Tag Archives: Ion Keith-Falconer

Free Missionary Biographies (150+)

For publishing purposes, I created a database of hundreds of missionary biographies. Here are links to the 183 of them that are available for free online. Several websites assisted in the creation of this list, especially the Internet Archivemissiology.org.uk, and Wholesome Words.

These links can be searched and sorted by country or author on AirTable.

NORTH AMERICA

The Parish of the Pines by Thomas D. Whittles (1873-?)

Canada
The Harvest of the Sea: A Tale of Both Sides of the Atlantic by Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1865-1940)
Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1865-1940)

Greenland
Amid Greenland Snows: The Early History of Arctic Missions by Jesse Page (1805-1883)

Jamaica
Memoir of William Knibb: Missionary in Jamaica by John Howard Hinton (1791-1873)

Missions among Native Americans
An Historical Account of the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts: Containing Their Foundation, Proceedings and the Success of Their Missionaries in the British Colonies to the Year 1728 by David Humphreys (1689-1740)
A journal of the life, gospel labours, and Christian experiences, of that faithful minister of Jesus Christ, John Woolman by John Woolman (1720-1772)
The Triumph of the Reformed Religion in America: The Life of the Renowned John Eliot by Cotton Mather (1663-1728)
An Account of the Life of the Late Rev. David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
By Canoe and Dog-Train: Among the Cree and Salteaux Indians by Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
On the Indian Trail: Stories of Missionary Work among the Cree and Salteaux Indians by Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
Stories from Indian Wigwams and Northern Camp-Fires by Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
Oowikapun: Or, How the Gospel Reached the Nelson River Indians by Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
Indian Life in the Great North-West by Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
The Battle of the Bears: Life in the North Land by Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
The Apostle of the North: Rev. James Evans by Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
Mirabilia Dei Inter Indicos, or, The Rise and Progress of a Remarkable Work of Grace amongst a Number of the Indians in the Provinces of New-Jersey and Pennsylvania, Justly Representied in a Journal Kept by Order of the Honourable Society (in Scotland) for Propagating Christian Knowledge by David Brainerd (1718-1747)
Memoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), David Brainerd (1718-1747), Sereno Edwards Dwight (1786-1850)
David Brainerd, the Apostle of the North American Indians by Jesse Page (1805-1883)
Brief Narrative of the Progress of the Gospel amongst the Indians in New England, in the Year 1670 by John Eliot (1604-1690)

CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA

A Voice from South America by Captain Allen Francis Gardiner (1794-1851)
South America: The Dark Continent by Emilio Olsson

Argentina
Captain Allen Gardiner of Patagonia: The Dauntless Sailor Missionary by Jesse Page (1805-1883)
The Story of Commander Allen Gardiner by John William Marsh (1822-1882), Waite H. Stirling

Brazil
A Thousand Miles in a Dug-Out: Being the Narrative of a Journey of Investigation among the Red-Skin Indians of Central Brazil by Frederick Charles Glass (1871-1960)
Adventures with the Bible in Brazil by Frederick Charles Glass (1871-1960)

Guyana
In the Tropics: Scenes and Incidents of West Indian Life by Jabez Marrat (1833-1909)

EASTERN EUROPE

Memoir of Mrs. Stallybrass, Wife of the Rev. Edward Stallybrass, Missionary to Siberia by Edward Stallybrass
Jonas King: Missionary to Syria and Greece by F. E. H. Haines

AFRICA

The Flaming Torch in Darkest Africa by William Taylor (1821-1902)
Africa Waiting or The Problem of Africa’s Evangelisation by Douglas Montagu Thornton (1873-1907)
Back to the Long Grass: My Link with Livingstone by Daniel Crawford (1870-1926)
Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa by David Livingstone (1813-1873)
Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and Its Tributaries and of the Discovery of the Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa by David Livingstone (1813-1873)
The Last Journals of David Livingstone in Central Africa by Horace Waller
Journal of an Expedition to Explore the Course and Termination of the Niger; with a Narrative of a Voyage Down That River to Its Termination by Richard Lander, John Lander
Central Africa Revisited: A 16,000 Mile Tour Thoughout the Fields of the Africa Inland Mission in Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, Congo, Sudan and Egypt by Daniel Morison Miller (1888-1965)
Garenganze; or, Seven Years Pioneer Mission Work in Central Africa by Frederick Stanley Arnot (1858-1914)
The Life and Explorations of Frederick Stanley Arnot, F.R.G.S. by Ernest Baker
The Personal Life of David Livingstone: Chiefly from his Unpublished Journals and Correspondence in the Possession of His Family by William Garden Blaikie (1820-1899)

Cameroon
Alfred Saker: The Pioneer of the Cameroons by Emily Martha Saker (b. 1849)

Congo River Region
Pioneering on the Congo by William Holman Bentley (1855-1905)
Life on the Congo by William Holman Bentley (1855-1905)
W. Holman Bentley: The Life and Labours of a Congo Pioneer, By His Widow by H. M. Bentley

Ethiopia
John Ludwig Krapf: Explorer-Missionary of Northeastern Africa by Paul Edward Kretzmann (1883-1965)
Eclipse in Ethiopia and Its Corona Glory by Esmé Ritchie Rice

Kenya
In the Heart of Savagedom: Reminiscences of Life and Adventure during a Quarter of a Century of Pioneering Missionary Labours in the Wilds of East Equatorial Africa by Eva Stuart Watt

Madagascar
Through Lands That Were Dark. Being a Record of a Year’s Missionary Journey in Africa and Madagascar by F. H. Hawkins (1863-1936)
Madagascar: Its Mission and Its Martyrs by Ebenezer Prout
The Martyrs’ Isle: or, Madagascar: The Country, the People, and the Missions by Annie Sharman

Malawi
The Life of Robert Laws of Livingstonia by William Pringle Livingstone (b. 1864)
Reminiscences of Livingstonia by Robert Laws (1851-1934)
Streams in the Desert: A Picture of Life in Livingstonia by James Horne Morrison (1872-1947)

Nigeria
The Romance of the Black River: The Story of the C.M.S. Nigeria Mission by F. Deaville Walker

Sierra Leone
Seven Years in Sierra Leone by Arthur Tappan Pierson (1837-1911)

South Africa & Botswana
Narrative of a Journey to the Zoolu Country, in South Africa by Captain Allen Francis Gardiner (1794-1851)
Christina Forsyth of Fingoland: The Story of the Loneliest Woman in Africa by William Pringle Livingstone (b. 1864)
Missionary Labors and Scenes in Southern Africa by Robert Moffat (1795-1883)
Robert Moffat: African Missionary by Jabez Marrat (1833-1909)
Stewart of Lovedale by James Wells
Dawn in the Dark Continent by James Stewart (1831-1905)

South Sudan
New Frontiers in the Central Sudan by C. Gordon Beacham
Seven Sevens of Years and a Jubilee: The Story of the Sudan Interior Mission by Rowland V. Bingham (1872-1942)

Uganda
Two Kings of Uganda by Robert Pickering Ashe (1857-1944)
The Last Journals of Bishop Hannington by Edwin Collas Dawson (1849-1925)
James Hannington, First Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa: A History of His Life and Work (1847-1885) by Edwin Collas Dawson (1849-1925)
Bishop Hannington and the Story of the Uganda Mission by William Grinton Berry (1873-1926)
Mackay of the Great Lake by Constance Evelyn Padwick (1886- )
Mackay of Uganda: The Missionary Engineer by Mary Yule
Uganda’s White Man of Work by Sophia Blanche Lyon Fahs (b. 1876)
Chronicles of Uganda by Robert Pickering Ashe (1857-1944)

Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)
Christians of the Copperbelt: The Growth of the Church in Northern Rhodesia by John Vernon Taylor
The Way of the White Fields in Rhodesia: A Survey of Christian Enterprise in Northern and Southern Rhodesia by Edwin W. Smith (1876-1957)

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Kamil Abdul Messiah by Kamil Abdulmasih (d. 1892)

North Africa
The Gospel in North Africa by John Rutherford (1816-1866)
I. Lilias Trotter, Founder of the Algiers Mission Band by Blanche Anne Frances Pigott (1849-1930)
Pioneering in Morocco: A Record of Seven Years’ Medical Mission Work in the Palace and the Hut by Robert Kerr (d. 1918)

Egypt & Sudan
A Master-Builder on the Nile: Being a Record of the Life and Aims of John Hogg, Christian Missionary by Rena L. Hogg
Douglas M. Thornton: A Study in Missionary Ideals and Methods by William Henry Temple Gairdner (1873-1928)
W.H.T.G. to His Friends by William Henry Temple Gairdner (1873-1928)
The Changing Sudan by W. Wilson Cash
The Sudan: A Short Compendium of Facts and Figures about the Land of Darkness by H. Karl Kumm (1874-1930)

Iraq & the Gulf
The History of the Arabian Mission by Alfred DeWitt Mason

Levant (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, etc.)
Christian Researches in the Mediterrannean, from 1815 to 1820, in Furtherance of the Objects of the Church Missionary Society by William Jowett, James Connor
The Life and Correspondence of Thomas Valpy French by Herbert Alfred Birks
Lethaby of Moab: A Record of Missionary Adventure, Peril and Toil by Thomas Durley
Ventures among the Arabs: 13 Years of Pioneer Missionary Life in Arabia by Archibald Forder (1863-1934)
Fifty-Three Years in Syria: The Autobiography of Henry H. Jessup by Henry Harris Jessup (1832-1910)
Bible Works in Bible Lands: or, Events in the History of the Syria Mission by Isaac Bird (1793-1876)
Memoir of the Rev. Pliny Fisk by Alvan Bond (1793-1882)
Raymund Lull: First Missionary to the Moslems by Samuel Marinus Zwemer (1867-1952)

Yemen
Memorials of the Hon. Ion Keith-Falconer by Robert Sinker (1838-1913)

CENTRAL ASIA

Journals and Letters of the Rev. Henry Martyn by S. Wilberforce
A Memoir of the Rev. Henry Martyn by John Sargent (1780-1833)
Henry Martyn of India and Persia by Jesse Page (1805-1883)

SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh
Bengal as a Field of Missions by Mrs. MacLeod Wylie

India
The Cobra’s Den by Jacob Chamberlain (1835-1908)
Men of Might in India Missions: Their Leaders and Their Epochs, 1706-1899 by Helen Harriet Holcomb
Life and Times of Carey, Marshman and Ward by John Clark Marshman (1794-1877)
History of the Tranquebar Mission by Johannes Ferdinand Fenger (1805-1861)
In the Tiger Jungle and Other Stories of Missionary Work among the Telugus of India by Jacob Chamberlain (1835-1908)
Biographical Sketches of Joshua Marshman by John Fenwick
Things As They Are: Mission Work in Southern India by Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)
A Memoir of Mrs. Margaret Wilson by John Wilson (1804-1875)
Memoir of William Carey by Eustace Carey
The Missionary’s Wife, or, A Brief Account of Mrs. Loveless of Madras; the First American Missionary to Foreign Lands by Richard Knill
Travels in North India by John Cameron Lowrie (1808-1900)
Two Years in Upper India by John Cameron Lowrie (1808-1900)
Two Standard Bearers in the East: Sketches of Dr. Duff and Dr. Wilson by Jabez Marrat (1833-1909)
Memoirs of Mrs. Louisa A. Lowrie : wife of the Rev. John C. Lowrie, missionary to Northern India, who died at Calcutta, Nov. 21st, 1833, aged 24 years by Ashbel Green Fairchild (1795-1864)

Pakistan
An Heroic Bishop: The Life-Story of French of Lahore by Eugene Stock (1836-1928)
Robert Clark of the Panjab: Pioneer and Missionary Statesman by Henry Martyn Clark (1857-1916)

Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon)
One Hundred Years in Ceylon: The Centenary Volume of the Church Missionary Society in Ceylon 1818-1918 by John William Balding
Extracts from the Journal and Correspondence of the Late Mrs. M. M. Clough, Wife of the Rev. Benjamin Clough, Missionary in Ceylon by Adam Clarke, Benjamin Clough, Margaret Morley Clough (1803-1827)
Memoirs of Mrs. Elizabeth Harvard Late of the Wesleyan Mission to Ceylon and India with Extracts from Her Diary and Correspondence by William Martin Harvard

NORTHEAST ASIA

Journal of Three Voyages along the Coast of China in 1831, 1832, and 1833, with Notices of Siam, Corea, and the Loo-Choo Islands by Charles Gutzlaff
A Sound of Abundance of Rain by Campbell Naismith Moody (1866-1940)
The War and Missions in the East by A. J. MacDonald (1887-1959)

China
Not Unto Us: A Record of Twenty-One Years’ Missionary Service by Harry Grattan Guinness (1835-1910)
Memoir of William C. Burns, Missionary to China by Islay Burns (1817-1872)
Memoir of the Life and Brief Ministry of the Rev. David Sandeman, Missionary to China by Andrew Alexander Bonar (1810-1892)
A Retrospect by James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)
Three Decades of the China Inland Mission, 1865-1895 by James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)
Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Soul by Howard Taylor
The Jubilee Story of the China Inland Mission with Portraits and Map by Marshall Broomhall (1866-1937)
Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Work of God by Howard Taylor

Japan
A Maker of New Japan: Joseph Hardy Neesima, President of Doshisha University, Kyoto by Jerome Dean Davis (1838-1910)
Life and Letters of Joseph Hardy Neesima by Arthur Sherburne Hardy

Mongolia
More about the Mongols by James Gilmour (1843-1891)
James Gilmour of Mongolia by James Gilmour (1843-1891), Richard Lovett (1851-1904)

Taiwan (formerly Formosa)
The Saints of Formosa by Campbell Naismith Moody (1866-1940)
The Heathen Heart: An Account of the Reception of the Gospel among the Chinese of Formosa by Campbell Naismith Moody (1866-1940)

Tibet
With the Tibetans in Tent and Temple by Susanna Carson “Susie” Rijnhart (1868-1908)

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Myanmar (formerly Burma)
The Gospel in Burma by Mrs. MacLeod Wylie
An Account of the American Baptist Mission to the Burman Empire by Ann Hasseltine Judson (1789-1826)
Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson by Francis Wayland
The Apostle of Burma: A Memoir of Adoniram Judson, D.D. by Jabez Marrat (1833-1909)

SOUTH PACIFIC

Heroes of the South Seas by Martha Burr Banks
Memoir of Mrs. Mary Mercy Ellis, Wife of Rev. William Ellis, Missionary in the South Seas and Foreign Secretary of the London Missionary Society by William Ellis (1794-1872)
John Williams, the Shipbuilder by Basil Joseph Mathews (1879-1951)
A Narrative of Missionary Enterprise in the South Sea Islands by John Williams (1796-1839)
Memoirs of the Rev. John Williams, Missionary to Polynesia by Ebenezer Prout

Fiji
James Calvert: or, From Dark to Dawn in Fiji by R. Vernon
James Calvert of Fiji by George Stringer Rowe (1830-1913)
The Story of Fiji by James Calvert (1813-1892)
Memoir of Mary Calvert by George Stringer Rowe (1830-1913)
The Life of John Hunt, Missionary to the Cannibals by George Stringer Rowe (1830-1913)
John Hunt: Pioneer Missionary and Saint by Joseph Nettleton
Fiji and the Fijians by James Calvert (1813-1892), Thomas Williams (1815-1891), George Stringer Rowe (1830-1913)

New Zealand
Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand, and of Lichfield: A Sketch of His Life and Work with Some Further Gleanings from His Letters, Sermons, and Speeches by George Herbert Curteis (1824-1894)
Among the Maoris; or, Daybreak in New Zealand: A Record of the Labours of Samuel Marsden, Bishop Selwyn, and Others by Jesse Page (1805-1883)
Memoirs of the life and labours of the Rev. Samuel Marsden, of Parramatta, Senior Chaplain of New South Wales: and of his early connexion with the missions to New Zealand and Tahiti by John Buxton Marsden (1803-1870)
A Short Account of the Character and Labours of the Rev. S. Marsden by William Woolls
Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand, performed in the years 1814 and 1815, in company with the Rev. S. Marsden by John Liddiard Nicholas

New Guinea
James Chalmers: Missionary and Explorer of Rarotonga and New Guinea by William Robson
Tamate: The Life and Adventures of a Christian Hero by Richard Lovett (1851-1904)
Greatheart of Papua: James Chalmers by W. P. Nairne
These Thirty Years: The Story of the RBMU by Harry Guinness (1835-1910)
Bishop Patteson: Martyr of Melanesia by Jesse Page (1805-1883)
Life of John Coleridge Patteson, Missionary Bishop of the Melanesian Islands by Charlotte Mary Yonge (1823-1901)

Tonga & French Polynesia
Tonga and the Friendly Islands by Sarah Stock Farmer

Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides)
The Story of John G. Paton: Thirty Years with South Sea Cannibals by John Gibson Paton (1824-1907)
Saints and Savages: The Story of Five Years in the New Hebrides by Robert Lamb

COMPILATIONS

Memoirs of British Female Missionaries by Thomas Timpson (1790-1860)
The Unoccupied Mission Fields of Africa and Asia by Samuel Marinus Zwemer (1867-1952)
A History of Moravian Missions by Joseph Edmund Hutton (1838-1937)
Moravian Missions: Twelve Lectures by Augustus C. Thompson (1812-1901)
A History of Wesleyan Missions in All Parts of the World from Their Commencement to the Present Time by William Moister (1808-1891)
An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens in Which the State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings, Are Considered by William Carey (1761-1834)
Conquests of the Cross: A Record of Missionary Work throughout the World by Edwin Hodder (1837-1904)
The History of the Church MIssionary Society: Its Environment, Its Men and Its Work by Eugene Stock (1836-1928)
The Romance of Missionary Heroism: True Stories of the Intrepid Bravery and Stirring Adventures of Missionaries with Uncivilized Man, Wild Beasts and the Forces of Nature in All Parts of the World by John Chisholm Lambert (1857-1917)
A History of Christian Missions during the Middle Ages by George Frederick Maclear (1833-1902)
The Advance Guard: 200 Years of Moravian Missions, 1732-1932 by Anonymous
Memories of the Mission Field by Christine Isabel Tinling (1869-1943)
Journal of Voyages and Travels by Daniel Tyerman, George Bonnet
Twelve Mighty Missionaries by Esthme Ethelind Enock (1874-1947)
Heroes of Missionary Enterprise by Claud Field
Giants of the Missionary Trail: The Life Stories of Eight Men Who Defied Death and Demons by Eugene Myers Harrison
The Missionary Heroes of Africa by James Horne Morrison (1872-1947)
Three Martyrs of the Nineteenth Century by Elizabeth Rundle Charles (1828-1896)
On the Trail of the Pioneers: A Sketch of the Missions of the United Free Church of Scotland by James Horne Morrison (1872-1947)

Region classifications are based on those used by the Joshua Project.

Free Ebook! (Ion Keith-Falconer of Arabia)

 

Today is the 132th anniversary of Ion Keith-Falconer’s death in Yemen. If you haven’t read his incredible story, you can get a free PDF copy at the link below!

This is the page-turning biography of Ion Keith-Falconer, a missionary who studied in Germany and Egypt before relocating his family to the colony of Aden, in present-day Yemen. Like C. T. Studd, Keith-Falconer was a famous athlete and a spokesman for what some have called “muscular Christianity.” He also had a promising career as a linguist and received a lecturing appointment at Cambridge. Keith-Falconer died tragically not long after arriving in his chosen mission field, but his consecrated life was an inspiration that led many more to the mission field.

This biography was written by James Robson, one of the missionaries that went to Yemen after Ion Keith-Falconer.

Click here to download a free copy of the biography of Ion Keith-Falconer!

Echoes of Eternity: How Death Affected Great Men

Thoughts after the death of Nabeel Qureshi

On September 16, Nabeel Qureshi tragically passed at the age 34, and went confidently into eternity. He had been diagnosed with aggressive Stage IV stomach cancer just a few short months ago, in the middle of a busy career of academic study, preaching, writing, and evangelism.

In many ways, his death is a challenge to Western believers. Lest we miss the lesson his death would teach us, I want to look at some historical precedent for how many believers have been challenged by the immediacy of death.

I could give a long list of faithful believers who re-examined their lives after the death of someone near them. J. J. Doke went to the mission field dreaming of carrying on the impact of his older brother who had died doing mission work in the Congo. On the other side of Africa, in 1846, Ludwig Krapf buried wife and child in the remote deserts along the Eritrea-Ethiopian border, and there he famously wrote that the church ever advances over the graves of its members.

For the church of the resurrected Christ, death has always been transmuted by the deathless optimism of the one who saw the travail of his soul and was satisfied. Let’s take a look at three ways that untimely death has caused many to hear the echo of eternity.

1. Eternity calls us to consider if we living for things that will last.

Adoniram Judson is one of the most famous missionaries in Protestant history. With a small cadre of friends, he spearheaded the founding of America’s first missionary society, and, in 1812, he was on the first ship to leave America to bring the gospel to the world’s unreached people.

But few know that in college, Judson was a hardened skeptic. The atmosphere at Providence College was in the grip of Enlightenment thinking. He had one friend in particularly—he is called E— in the story—who was an outspoken, revelling, scoffing skeptic, mocking the church and all that pertains to it.

In between college terms, Judson was travelling on horseback, touring the northern states. He stopped into an inn. We have one vacancy, the innkeeper told him, but the tenant in the room next door is horribly ill—he may not pass the night. No matter, Judson told him. Death was less than nothing to him, although he would feel sympathy for the dying.

As he lay in that inn, he heard the racking coughs and groans of a dying man. The walls seemed paper thin. Whoever he was, he must be dying comfortless, with no family member to attend him. Judson lay awake thinking of the nearness of death, struggling to use his young age as a shield against the spectre of eternity. After all, what would his skeptic friends back at college think? What would his friend E think?

The rest of the story is in F. W. Boreham’s words:

“He rises at dawn; seeks the innkeeper; and inquires about his neighbor.

“‘He’s dead!’ is the blunt reply.

“‘Dead!’ replies Judson. ‘And who was he?’

“‘Oh,’ explains the innkeeper languidly, ‘he was a student from Providence College; a very fine fellow; his name was E!’”

Judson was shaken to the core. Eternity stared him in the face, and it wasn’t long before he turned to Christ. He cut short his vacation, went home, and discussed the state of his soul with his parents. He was soon a member of their church.

2. Eternity calls us to remember that there are no little people and no little places.

Although his name is no longer well known, Ion Keith-Falconer was a serious intellectual with both evangelistic and medical experience, willing to use whatever means to reach his Muslim neighbors.

Keith-Falconer seemed to have everything going for him. He was from a noble family; he was a champion athlete; he was at the top of his class at Cambridge; he was newly married; and he was ordained under the Free Church of Scotland to an important and difficult mission field.

After studying Arabic at schools in Germany and Egypt, he went to Aden—in present-day Yemen, then a British colony—to see if it would be feasible to bring his family there. After receiving a very flexible appointment as an Arabic lecturer at Cambridge, he took his wife and a young child to live in the neighborhood of Sheikh Othman.

He only preached and practiced medicine for five months before he died of a fever, now believed to be malaria. News of his death reached Scotland the night before the opening of the Free Church’s annual General Assembly, the same meeting at which Keith-Falconer had been ordained just one year before. The moderator, Dr. Somerville, spoke about his death:

“What may be the beneficent result which God may educe from this calamity, we know not. This, however, we may venture to hope for—that the death of this noble young man may prove the means of awakening attention, greater than has ever been directed, to all Arabia’s provinces, and tend to give a lasting wound to that fatal system of Islam which so long blighted the souls of millions. What Christian Scotchman, with qualities in any way resembling those of him who has passed away, will stand forth to raise the banner of the Gospel in the place of the gallant warrior who has fallen?”

The custom in that day was not to withdraw when a missionary was lost; the usual response was to send two more to take his place! After his death, his mother and widow offered a stipend that would fund two more missionaries for Arabia. In the months that followed, a total of thirteen students of Edinburgh’s New College offered themselves for foreign mission work. Eleven of those were from the 1888 graduating class, which only included forty students. Needless to say, the appeal of Keith-Falconer’s death is attributed to be an important factor.

3. Eternity calls us to remember that even short lives can have an lasting echo if they are lived for Christ.

There is another story in Arabian missions of a young Lebanese preacher. Like Nabeel Qureshi, Kamil Abdulmasih ‘Itany turned to Christ out of a Muslim background, and it wasn’t long before he was doing everything he could to persuade other Muslims, Catholics, Jews, and Hindus, that Jesus was the only way.

Kamil learned the basics of the Bible from Henry H. Jessup for a few months in Beirut. Later, he joined Samuel M. Zwemer and James Cantine in the Arabian Mission of the Dutch Reformed Church. In the few years that he lived as a Christian, Kamil did preaching and Bible distribution tours in Syria, Yemen, Djibouti, and Iraq.

He showed in his letters that he knew both the Bible and the Quran well. He was persuasive and tactful in evangelism. While selling Bibles in the remote coasts of eastern Yemen, a group of men went around forbidding people to accept his books. Kamil found the troublemakers and quoted to them several scriptures in which the Quran praises both the Old and New Testaments which they were selling. He recorded the conversation in his journal, which Henry Jessup later translated:

“Then I said, ‘Does this Quran speak truth or falsehood?’

“They said, ‘Allah forbid that it should speak falsehood.’

“I said, ‘Are my words true?’

“They replied, ‘Yes; there is no doubt of it.’

‘Then,” said I, ‘Why did you forbid the boys buying the books?’

“They said, ‘We did not,’ and denied it absolutely.

“I then said, ‘You should buy the books if my words are true.’

“They said, ‘We certainly will after hearing the proofs you have given us.’”

Kamil’s life was cut short in a season of intense preaching and visiting in Basra, in present-day Iraq. His journals written in 1892 show that he had visitors of every variety, some hostile, and some very keen to find copies of the New Testament.

When he died, Zwemer found him surrounded by soldiers and religious authorities. They believed he was poisoned, but the authorities prohibited an autopsy. They protested that he was a Christian, but the authorities buried him as a Muslim. They had proof that he was a Christian, but the soldiers had seized his papers. There was no recourse.

Henry Jessup wrote that Kamil’s life was “a rebuke to our unbelief” in God’s power to change the Muslim heart. His tragic murder must have brought home to supporters of the Arabian Mission the reality of people who turn to faith in Islam’s heartland. Grace may be free, but that doesn’t mean faith doesn’t cost us.

After Kamil’s death, Zwemer eventually became the most widely known name connected with Christian missions to Muslims. He left behind a stream of literature long enough to fill a bookshelf. God only knows how the loss of this budding native preacher must have hardened Zwemer’s resolve in his early career.

Final thoughts

Death, then, doesn’t have to be a white flag; in Christian missions, it is a call for advance, not retreat. When a soldier on the front lines is lost, someone must rush forward to hold the line.

When I woke up to the news of Nabeel’s passing, I thought of how the disciples felt when Jesus ascended and left them. Leaderless, they thought—but they wouldn’t be left comfortless. There was a greater work that they would have to begin.

The task of missions is the task of the whole church. With Nabeel’s passing, we mourn the loss of a leader who had a monumental impact in his short time—but when we dry our eyes, we remember, we have a lot of work to do.


References:

F. W. Boreham, “Adoniram Judson’s Text.” A Temple of Topaz.

Henry H. Jessup, Kamil Abdulmasih: A Syrian Preacher of the Gospel.

Robert Sinker, Candle in the Dark: The Story of Ion Keith-Falconer.

Review:  Candle in the Dark: The Story of Ion Keith-Falconer

Rating: ★★★★

Who: Ion Keith-Falconer, Arabic scholar, prominent cyclist, and pioneer missionary to Yemen.

When: 1856-1887.

Where: The book covers his training and travels in Scotland, England, Germany, Egypt, and Yemen.

Overview: This is the authorized biography of Ion Keith-Falconer, published within a year of his unexpected death by a friend who knew him at Cambridge. It is still the most complete biography of him available.

Keith-Falconer came from a noble Scottish bloodline. He was definitely a son of privilege; but to his credit, he used this privilege to support Gospel work. He liberally supported urban evangelistic work, not only with money, but with his own sweat.

He was an exemplary academic and excelled in Arabic and other Semitic languages at Cambridge. Before he went to Yemen as a missionary with the Free Church of Scotland, he was offered a lectureship in Arabic by Cambridge, and accepted, if only because the requirements were so light, and the benefits so obvious—he would only have to lecture once annually at the minimum.

He also exemplifies “muscular Christianity.” He stumbled into fame as a cyclist when the sport was just budding into existence on college campuses.

He began to seriously consider missions in late 1884, and left for Yemen in November 1885 for a trial visit. He returned with his family a year later, in November 1886, but within just a few short months, he succumbed to several bouts of malaria, and died at the age of 31.

Meat: Keith-Falconer is in many ways the prototypical missionary of the Arabian Peninsula. He taught that hospitals and academic work were an appropriate avenue for missionaries there, and many followed in his wake.

The announcement of his death coincided closely with the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, and as a result, many were moved to consider the mission field after he died.

Bones: The author, Sinker, was an academic and sometimes gives too much detail on Keith-Falconer’s academic life at the expense of his personal life. An ideal biography would give a better sense of Keith-Falconer’s habits and daily life.

A member of the Yemen mission, James Robson, later produced a bite-sized biography, Ion Keith-Falconer of Arabia (1923), which essentially abridges the material found here.

Quotes: “Still, it seemed as if some scheme ought to present itself in which Christian zeal and linguistic power might work hand in hand, or rather, shall I say, in which his intellectual attainments and his learning might be to him something more than a mere parallel interest, existing side by side with, but having no connection with, work for Christ.” (loc. 2116)

“The efforts already made to Christianize Mohammedan countries have produced commensurate results.” (loc. 2724)

“The heathen are in darkness, and we are asleep. . . . While vast continents are shrouded in almost utter darkness, and hundreds of millions suffer the horrors of heathenism or of Islam, the burden of proof lies upon you to show that the circumstances in which God gas placed you were meant by Him to keep you out of the foreign mission-field.” (loc. 2797)

Arab World Pioneers

The Arab World Pioneers series seeks to draw together the best available histories and biographies of the early modern missionaries to the Arab world. Among these pioneers, the most well known are Ion Keith-Falconer (Yemen), Henry Jessup (Syria), and Samuel Zwemer (Bahrain, Iraq, and Egypt). However, even these men didn’t come the earliest, or stay the longest. They must be taken as only a sampling of the host of both men and women who sacrificed and plodded in a place that has remained, even to this day, one of the driest and most difficult mission fields on the globe.

Arab World Pioneers

Candle in the Dark: The Story of Ion Keith-Falconer by Robert Sinker
Douglas M. Thornton: A Study in Missionary Ideals and Methods by W. H. T. Gairdner (coming 2018)
Fifty-three Years in Syria: The Autobiography of Henry H. Jessup (coming 2018)
Heroic Bishop: The Life of Thomas V. French by Eugene Stock
History of the Arabian Mission by Mason & Barny
Apostle to Islam: A Biography of Samuel M. Zwemer by J. Christy Wilson