Jesus Christ commanded his disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). In obedience to that command, Christian missionaries have carried the message of the gospel to every corner of the globe for nearly 2,000 years.
Missionaries have never limited themselves to preaching. In the fifth century, St. Patrick combated slavery in Ireland; in the eighth century, St. Walburga opened a clinic in Germany; and in the 16th century, Spanish missionaries in Mexico were instrumental in putting an end to human sacrifice. Over the centuries, missionaries have established schools, hospitals, orphanages, shelters for abused women and homes for the elderly. Today, missionaries are involved in battling health scourges such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, bringing an end to human trafficking and advancing economic development in some of the world's poorest communities.
Many Christian relief organizations work to eliminate human trafficking, from the sexual slavery of women and young girls, to the forced labor of children and adults, to forced conscription of adolescent boys into guerrilla bands. The organizations operate shelters for victims of human trafficking in Cambodia, Hong Kong and Liberia, among other places, and they work with local governments and international organizations to bring an end to human trafficking.
In Zimbabwe, where an HIV/AIDS epidemic has made orphans of more than one million children, Christian missionaries as well as outreach organizations based in the United States and Europe have recruited volunteers who provide these orphans with food, clothing, medical care, as well as paying their school fees and even purchasing their school supplies and school uniforms.
Focus on Africa
Catholic religious orders such as the White Fathers and the Maryknoll Sisters care for abandoned children in Ethiopia, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Tanzania. They operate vocational schools that help teenagers and adults learn a trade or acquire other job skills that will enable them to support themselves and their families. These priests, brothers and nuns also care for refugees from natural disasters and from ethnic and political violence in Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya.
Many Christian mission organizations focus on Latin America, where they provide a wide variety of services, including micro-credit programs so that individuals can open small businesses, or entire communities can purchase the agricultural equipment needed to operate productive farms.
In many part of the developing world, small local hospitals often lack medical supplies and up-to-date facilities. Several Protestant churches have dedicated themselves to helping small hospitals in India, the Philippines and several African nations update their facilities and improve the level of care they provide.
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