Women Missionaries

How Have Christian Missionaries in South Asia Historically Impacted the Region?

The first of many Christian missionaries in South Asia may have been the Apostle Thomas. After the Day of Pentecost, the message of Jesus spread to other parts of the world. According to many traditions, one country in South Asia was reached by Thomas in AD 52.[1] He was later martyred there.

It wasn’t until much later that Christianity had a substantial influence in that same country. Europeans began to settle there in 1608, bringing Christianity with them.[2] As history progressed, Christian missionaries began establishing schools and printing presses. Through these means, literature and the message of the gospel went out among the people.

Through the decades, Christian missionaries have been credited with these significant contributions:

  • Language – Christian missionary Constanzio Beschi made the one local alphabet suitable for the printing press and also produced a dictionary. Other missionaries after him are also credited with noteworthy works in language, grammar studies and literature.[3]
  • Educational Opportunities – Christian missionaries were the first to promote education for women there in 1819. This launched a push for similar promotion of women in learning, including higher education.[4]
  • Social Changes – William Carey is credited by many mission historians for working to outlaw practices of infanticide, sati, and other humanitarian concerns. When he died in 1834, he had spent 41 years in one country of South Asia. He is credited with establishing a foundation for “Bible translation, education and social reform.”[5]
  • Medicine – Christians have significantly impacted the medical field in South Asia, bringing hospitals and medical care. Missionaries have also established programs for the mentally challenged and disabled. They brought much care and love to those who are abandoned, abused, or exploited. Today, three major Christian health networks in South Asia express commitment to work toward health for all, especially for “resource-poor people … living in remote and difficult-to-reach areas of the country, who have little to no access to healthcare in the places where they live.”[6]
  • Disaster Relief – Missionaries and Christians have been on the front lines to provide immediate and long-term help following natural disasters.

Over the years, Christians indigenous to their own countries have carried on many of these endeavors and increased their impact. Today, GFA World supports national workers serving as the hands and feet of Christ in four main ways. Sponsoring national missionaries to minister to people’s needs, sponsoring children, investing in community development and helping families in need of care or during disasters.[7]

Learn more about women missionaries

[1] “Did the Apostle Thomas take the gospel all the way to India?” Got Questions Ministries. https://www.gotquestions.org/Thomas-India.html. Accessed September 5, 2022.
[2] “When and why did the British first choose to invade India?” India Today. https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/gk-current-affairs/story/when-and-why-british-first-came-to-india-1591166-2019-08-24. Accessed September 5, 2022.
[3] “History of Christian Impact On India” Encyclopedia.com. https://web.archive.org/web/20210126213953/https://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/christian-impact-india-history. Accessed September 5, 2022.
[4] Kennedy, Rev. Dr. S.M. John. “Christian Contribution to Indian Education.” https://www.sxcejournal.com/jan-mar-2018/paper6.pdf. Accessed October 5 2022.
[5] “William Carey.” Christianity Today. https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/missionaries/william-carey.html. Accessed October 5, 2022.
[6] “Faith-based Healthcare in India.” CCIH. https://www.ccih.org/faith-based-healthcare-in-india/. Accessed October 5, 2022.
[7] “How is GFA transforming communities?” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/about/. Accessed October 5, 2022.