In total, there are over 400,000 missionaries all over the world. For anyone who's grown up in a church, whatever the religion, there was probably some opportunity to either support a missionary or to go on a missions trip. On a missions trip, one is generally expected to evangelize along with doing some sort of service for the host area such as building homes, cooking meals, helping with education, health care, literacy, or whatever the area might be lacking. Of course there are some missionaries who may give other missionaries a bad name or do illegal things in the name of their religion, but in general, missionaries strive to do some good for their fellow man in some other part of the world.
The following list is primarily focusing on Christian missionaries, as the idea behind the work of a missionary is generally a Christian one; to emulate Jesus Christ and how he helped the poor, the wounded, and the sick. Here we've compiled a list of the top ten countries that missionaries visit the most according to the 'Atlas for Global Christianity' 2009. Whether these countries are of any surprise to you will depend on your personal experience with not only religion, but with other countries outside of North America, and other metropolitan cities. Keep in mind that there are still about 26 countries that won’t allow missionaries in.
10 India – 8,000
Missionaries going to India have been taking a little heat from the media and the general public. There is no doubt that the country could use some help in terms of their poor, but there are some missionaries in the country right now that are willing to offer free medical care in exchange for a conversion to Christianity. Of course, we can't lump all of the missionaries to India together in the same sketchy category. In fact, many Hindu’s are very grateful for the work of the Christian missionaries and the two religions have, in most cases, been able to live in harmony for quite some time.
9 Chile – 8,500
The first missionaries arrived in Chile in 1897 and haven't stopped since. Chile has certainly grown since the early 1900’s and has become a country with a mix of metropolitan buzz and still-remote villages with people living off of the land. Missionaries first started working with the Mapuche tribe and have since ventured out into not only the remote areas of Chile, but also the busier cities through services such as marriage counseling, counseling young people, helping the poor, and working with politicians (though some may see the latter as a negative aspect of the missionaries' work).
8 Argentina – 10,000
Argentina has a mixed population of a rich upper class group as well as a class of poorer citizens who have little to no resources. Because of this, there are numerous missionaries who have specialized areas that they cover. There are some missionaries who primarily focus on the upper class of Argentina (probably a coveted area to be in) as well as missionaries who go and serve the poor with necessities such as food, water and a roof over their head.
7 United Kingdom – 10,000
When it comes to religious history, the United Kingdom is rich and sometimes tumultuous. From going back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism to people escaping the country to avoid religious persecution, it’s hard to believe that the United Kingdom is in need of missionaries. But in the last century, Christian missionaries feel that the UK has been moving away from Christianity, which is reflected in the numerous churches that have closed their doors and the fact that half of the British population admit that they don’t have any preference of religion.
6 France – 10,000
At first glance, 10,000 missionaries going to France may seem like an odd thing. France isn’t a desolate third world country like some other parts in the world, and France certainly has a Christian presence that goes back over hundreds of years. So where exactly is the need for missionaries? In recent times, only 1 percent of the French population professes to be Christian and France was the final destination for many Southeast Asian refugees in the 1960’s. Clearly times have changed to the point where churches feel that there is a need for missionaries in the proudly secular country.
5 South Africa – 12,000
South Africa has a growing Christian community, but the drawback is that they have very little resources to grow their church, not only spiritually but also in terms of physical resources. For the last few decades, European-based missionaries have been planting and visiting churches in the country of South Africa and helping them gain a solid foundation to serve their communities. Recently, South African churches have started to send their own missionaries to other countries, in a way “giving back” to the missionaries helped them.
4 Congo – 15,000
The Congo is probably one of the more dangerous countries on this list given the guerilla warfare that continues to go on. But there are about 15,000 brave missionaries who go in every year to help the people of the Congo with access to school and an education, giving the young and old citizens a chance to understand the world outside of their country. The missionaries who go to the Congo also help people with their day-to-day life by providing seeds and farming tools so that they are able to feed themselves and they also give the citizens access to clean water.
3 Russia – 20,000
Russia is one of the largest nations in the world - three United States could fit inside Russia. Given the political turmoil going on in the country and the fact that Russia is still recovering from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the USSR, Christian missionaries see a dire need for service and religious guidance. In 2010 alone, about 20,000 missionaries went to Russia to not only spread the Gospel, but also to help citizens with basic needs such as food, water, education, and medical care.
2 Brazil – 20,000
Given Brazil’s location, its numerous villages, and the languages that are spoken, the country receives a wide amount of missionaries not just from the United States, but from all over the world including Africa and Spain. Obviously, the churches see a need not only for God in Brazil, but also for humanitarian services such as providing clean water to the more remote locations as well as medical care and educational opportunities. All of these factors combined make Brazil the second most-visited country by missionaries.
1 United States – 32,400
The fact that the United States is at the number one spot is ironic. Given that the country is a generally self-proclaimed Christian nation overall and is one of the top countries that sends missionaries, why in the world is the United States in the number one spot for receiving missionaries? It may be because the United States has opened up many opportunities for foreign missionaries to reach different groups of people such as foreigners and refugees - groups a native English speaking missionary would have a difficult time reaching.