This new book, To the Ends of the Earth by Torbjørn Greipsland, shows clearly how seriously the missionaries took their service. They knew that it could cost them their own life and health, persecution, kidnapping and murder. But they went. They saw some of the results, we see great results.
The book has the names of more than a thousand missionaries, and articles about, or interviews with, 30 of them. It is exciting reading.
One reason for writing the book is that the extensive missionary commitment that existed in many churches, and still continues, has not been given any important place in the central and general history books about the Norwegian America.
These missionaries deserve a book!
In a book review in the newspaper Dagen, Audun Mosevoll uses the word “gullgruve” (gold mine) to characterize the book.
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MISSION IN CHINA
Two Siblings from Bø in Telemark Said Yes to God’s Call
Became pioneer missionaries in China in a difficult time,
but the mission work bore fruit
The Cry from Women in China Awakened Women in the USA. Interview with Gracia Grindal
The Nestegaard Brothers from Hallingdal became fearless pioneer missionaries in China and Mongolia
A Cotter’s daughter Became a Missionary to China. Else Fredriksen from Land, Oppland
A boy who once tried to stone her to death became her best co-worker
Daniel Nelson – a Pioneer Missionary at the Age of 37. From Sveio, Rogaland.
Killed when he was 72 after reaching many Chinese for Christ
Knut Stokke from Isfjorden, Romsdal
A warm-hearted preacher, missionary and mentor for upcoming church leader in China
Karoline Oudal from Kvinesdal, Vest-Agder – A Missionary Who Never Gave Up
Dr. Casper Skinsnes from Mandal, Vest-Agder. Helped Countless Chinese in a Dangerous Time
When the spirits could not help, the Chinese came to the Mission Hospital
MISSION IN MADAGASCAR
Norwegian Missionary Society and the Norwegian Churches in America – the 19th Century Bond
Johan Peter and Olina Hogstad, from Inderøy, Nord-Trøndelag, and Sunndalen, Nordmøre. Were the First Norwegian-American Missionaries on Madagascar
Erik Hansen Tou from Rogaland and Elisabeth Knutsen from Vik in Gaular, Sogn og Fjordane, the Toughest of the Norwegian-American Pioneers
Initially, the Parents were Missionaries on Madagascar, then Three of their Children Became Missionaries to the Same Country. The Nilsen family from Karmøy.
Elise Tverberg from Skjold, Rogaland, Saw the Women’s Needs and Ministered to Them
Seven Members of one Family Became Missionaries on Madagascar, in China, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea. Kittil Braaten from Telemark and wife Anna Marie (Stenseth) from Etnedal, Valdres.
MISSION IN INDIA
Lars Olsen Skrefsrud from Oppland: Made a Profound Impression on the Lives of Norwegians in AmericaKaerabani Boys’ School for Education and Evangelization. By Bernhard Helland, (Kvinnherad, Hordaland).
Kaerabani Boys’ School for Education and Evangelization. By Bernhard Helland, (Kvinnherad, Hordaland).
Naomi Torkelson (Stavanger) – One of the Last Norwegian-American Missionaries to the Santals
MISJON IN ZULULAND
A “Bargain” with God. Joanne Hall Lien tells.
MISSON IN SWAZILAND
Malla Moe from Hafslo in Sogn —the Unlikely Missionary Who Accomplished so Much
MISSION IN ALASKA
Pioneer Missionaries Endured Hardship, Sickness and a Spell Cast by Witch Doctors.
Tollef Brevig from Sigdal, Buskerud
Oscar and Ella Rølvaag Brune (Brown) – from Stranda, Sunnmøre and Dønna, Nordland, Followed the Call to the
Weather-Beaten Island of Little Diomede in the Bering Strait
THE WORLDWIDE ADVENTIST CHURCH
Immigrants from Norway Became Adventist Pioneers and Leaders. Ole Andrew Olsen from Laudal/Finsland, Vest-Agder
MISSIONARIES THE LAST DECADES
Heard about Missions as a Child, Became Himself a Missionary in Mongolia.
David Samuel Olsson with relatives from Hemnes in Nordland, Kvikne, Trysil and Grue in Hedmark, Etnedal and Hadeland in Oppland, Luster in Sogn, Gol and Krødsherad in Buskerud, and Åmli in Aust-Agder.
Several Persons from a Small Congregation Went into Full-time Christian Ministry.
Interview with Lowell Quam with roots in Sogn.
In Papua, Indonesia: Extreme Living for the Sake of the Gospel. Heather Olsen Marx with great-grandparents from Mandal, Vest-Agder.
Information about Missionaries, Pastors, and their Norwegian Roots
Names of Missionaries and Mission Workers Sent by TEAM, The Evangelical Alliance Mission
Names of 862 Norwegian-American Missionaries Sent out by Churches and Organizations that Later Joined ELCA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Earlier Missionaries to China
A Thousand Norwegian-Americans Said Yes to God’s Calling
They had a Deep Commitment to the Mission
Many have been surprised that Norwegian immigrants in the United States formed 7000 congregations. And those were just the Lutheran congregations. Therefore, the total number of congregations must have been far greater.
Equally surprising is it to know that at least a thousand persons, Norwegians and people of Norwegian ancestry who were living in the United States, went out as missionaries. They went either to another country, or to people living in very different cultures, such as the Eskimos in Alaska.
The number that the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States, ELCA – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has in its records is 862. These are people who were sent out from the Norwegian-American Lutheran denominations and organizations up until around 1960. Most of the Norwegian-American churches and denominations joined what is today the ELCA.
In addition, there were many who were sent out from other denominations and organizations. It is not easy to estimate how many there may have been. But in the book God Made It Growpublished by the American mission organization TEAM, The Evangelical Alliance Mission, there are references to several hundred missionaries. An estimated 50 to 100, maybe many more, may well have been Norwegian or of Norwegian descent. During the first decades, the name of the organization was The Scandinavian Alliance Mission of North America, but changed in 1949 to its current name, shortened to TEAM. The founder of this mission was the world famous Swedish evangelist Fredrik Franson.
Requests for information to non-Lutheran denominations have not provided any answers as to how many Norwegian-Americans may have been sent out from them. But the clear majority of Norwegian-Americans belonged to Lutheran churches.
The total number of about a thousand Norwegian-American missionaries up until the 1960s, is most likely correct. But it would not surprise me if the number is significantly higher.
One reason that such a number will be surprising, is that the extensive missionary commitment that existed in many churches, and still continues, has not been given any important place in the central and general history books about the Norwegian America. Some have never mentioned it. Just as in Norway, visits by missionaries congregations in the United States have meant a lot. Without any doubt, these visits have greatly influenced the congregations in the United States, indeed not only the churches, but the whole Norwegian community, as it is noted in interviews and articles in this book. One ought to have focused heavily on this, but it falls outside the scope of this popularized edition of Norwegian-American missionaries.
The missionary Lars Olsen Skrefsrud visited the United States in 1894 to 1895 and held 364 sermons and lectures. His visits are completely overlooked in history books that have been published in Norway about the Norwegian America, even though his efforts created quite a significant increase in commitment to mission work in these congregations.
The work that the many Norwegian-American missionaries were engaged in, was quite extensive for many years, from the pioneers in the late 1800s and until today. In this book we will quote the names of about a thousand missionaries from the ELCA’s archives and from the TEAM history book. The numbers will tell a lot about the extent of the missionary work.
Furthermore, we have interviews with, and articles on, about 30 missionaries. This gives only a glimpse of the world-wide commitment. The insights that we get are quite clear and significant; they show that the call to missionary service was preached and countless people said yes, most of them among the youth of the day.
The contents of this book also clearly show how seriously they took their service. They knew that it could cost life and health, persecution, kidnapping and murder. But the Great Commission of Jesus Christ himself was too important for them to ignore. People all over the world had to hear the gospel and come to a saving belief in Jesus Christ.
There are other challenges that world missions face today. But the seriousness of the young men and women, with their unselfish service, has something to say to us also today. It’s both exciting and edifying reading.