What Is Missionary in World History?

Missionary in World History

Missionary work refers to the act of propagating or spreading religious beliefs and practices to people who do not share the same beliefs. The term “missionary” is derived from the Latin word “missio,” which means “to send.” This term was commonly used by Christians to describe their efforts to spread their faith during the colonial period.

History of Missionary Work

The history of missionary work dates back thousands of years, with examples found in various religious traditions. For example, ancient Egyptians and Greeks sent priests and priestesses to other lands to spread their religious beliefs.

In India, the Buddha sent his followers to different parts of Asia to spread his teachings. Similarly, Islamic tradition has a long history of sending missionaries (called dawah) to different regions around the world.

However, it was during the colonial period that Christian missionary work gained prominence. European powers such as Spain, Portugal, France, and Britain established colonies in various parts of the world and began spreading Christianity through missionary work. The first Christian missionaries arrived in India in the 16th century, followed by Africa and other parts of Asia.

Missionary Work Today

Today, missionary work is conducted by many different religious groups around the world. In addition to Christianity, other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism also engage in missionary work.

The methods used for missionary work have evolved over time. In earlier times, missionaries would often establish schools and hospitals as a way of gaining converts. Today, missionaries use a range of methods such as social media campaigns or organizing events for people interested in learning more about their religion.

Controversies Surrounding Missionary Work

While some view missionary work as a positive force for promoting peace and understanding between different cultures and religions, others criticize it for being exploitative or culturally insensitive.

There have been instances where missionaries have been accused of using their position to gain power and influence over indigenous peoples. This has led some critics to argue that missionary work is a tool of colonialism and imperialism.

In addition, some have argued that missionary work can be culturally insensitive, as it often involves imposing Western values and beliefs on people from different cultural backgrounds.


In conclusion, missionary work has a long history in various religious traditions around the world. While it has been a force for good in some instances, it has also been criticized for being exploitative or culturally insensitive. As with any form of outreach or engagement with different cultures and religions, it is important to approach missionary work with sensitivity and respect for local customs and beliefs.