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On missionaries at their best

Summary

Robert Woodberry explains that some of his favourite missionaries truly adapted to the cultures they worked in.

Summary

Robert Woodberry explains that some of his favourite missionaries truly adapted to the cultures they worked in.

Transcript

I have so many favourite missionaries! It’s hard to pick.

There are people like Matteo Ricci, who was a Jesuit who was the first Catholic … the first Jesuit missionary in China, there had been earlier Franciscan missionaries. And he became such an expert on the Confucian classics that his job was to train Chinese people to pass the Confucian exams. And he was so good at it that many of his students became very prominent officials in the Chinese government, and he was able to get influence through that. An incredible, incredible man. Or another Jesuit, Giuseppe Castiglione, who became the highest-ranking artist in the courts of both Kangxi and Qianlong. So, amazing people who brought amazing skills with them and adapted, to quite an extent, to Chinese custom.

Among missionaries … Protestant missionaries, there’s missionaries that I really like. William Knibb, who was crucial in terms of fighting slavery; other people who were crucial in terms of bringing Western education and science to China and Japan. So a man in Japan, a man named Guido Verbeck, who worked in the Chinese – I mean the Japanese educational ministry, and helped modernise Japanese education. Or a similar person in China, W. A. P. Martin, who helped reform the Chinese educational system. Amazing people.