The Man Behind the Missions
Have you ever supported a missionary working with Wycliffe Bible Translators or Africa Inland Mission? Attended InterVarsity's Urbana Student Mission Convention? Do you believe that evangelicals should strive to reach unreached peoples with the gospel?
If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you are a theological descendent of a man of whom you have probably never heard: Arthur Tappan Pierson.
As strange as it seems today, there once was a time when many American evangelicals did not care much about foreign missions. There was a time when non-denominational mission groups like Wycliffe and Africa Inland Mission did not exist. There was a time—not all that long ago—when "the evangelization of the world in this generation" was not a goal shared by most Christians. A.T. Pierson changed how evangelicals thought about foreign missions. As Dana Robert writes in Occupy Until I Come: A.T. Pierson and the Evangelization of the World (selected as one of 15 outstanding books in mission studies in 2003 by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research), it was through Pierson's prodding that "the meaning of evangelicalism became attached to support for foreign missions." If you are an evangelical and don't know A.T. Pierson, you should. Robert's biography is a good place to begin your introduction.
Pierson lived from 1837 until 1911. He began his ministry as a Presbyterian pastor interested in both piety and climbing the ladder of denominational success. His plan, however, changed. Pierson grew increasingly convinced of the importance of foreign missions and dedicated much of his life to raising support for world evangelization. He became the editor of the ...