My 10 Favorite Missionary Quotes


I know we live in a sound-bite age where words are constantly ripped from their original context. I also know there’s danger in trying to reduce a person or a book or an idea down to one simple statement. Nevertheless, some quotes stick with us and shape the way we think because they provide a memorable summary of something important.

Last Wednesday I taught on missiology at Immanuel. As I prepared, I came across some great quotes from famous missionaries. By themselves, they are not a comprehensive theology of missions. But they do capture important ideas with memorable words.

  1. “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light.” (John Falconer)
  2. “If I had 1,000 lives, I’d give them all for China.” (Hudson Taylor)
  3. “I have but one passion – it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.” (Count Zinzindorf)
  4. “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.” (William Carey)
  5. “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)
  6. “Sympathy is no substitute for action.” (David Livingstone)
  7. “Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell. I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” (CT Studd)
  8. “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.” (William Borden)
  9. “Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms.” (John Paton)
  10. “I love to live on the brink of eternity.” (David Brainerd)

Originally published May 15, 2017 on