How One Missionary Started a Century-Long Movement

Missionary and author Jim Ruff explains why ABWE Founder Raphael Thomas was controversial in his day—and can teach us.

How One Missionary Started a Century-Long Movement: Jim Ruff on ABWE Founder Raphael Thomas

In 1927, the evangelical church was split in two—between gospel-proclaiming fundamentalists and followers of the social gospel. Caught in the struggle was Baptist missionary Dr. Raphael Thomas. When his life and ministry took some unexpected turns, he was faced with a choice—and his actions sparked a missions movement nearly 100 years long. Who was Raphael Thomas? Jim Ruff, missionary and author of an upcoming biography on the ABWE founder, walks us through Thomas’ life and why it matters for Christians today. Hear more from Jim on his website.

Learn more about the legacy of Dr. Thomas and its connection to the mission today.

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Alex Kocman & Scott Dunford

Alex Kocman is the Director of Communications and Engagement for ABWE. He serves as general editor for Message Magazine and co-hosts The Missions Podcast. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University and a youth pastor in Pennsylvania, where he now resides with his wife and three children. Read his blog or follow him on X/Twitter.

Scott Dunford is the pastor of Western Hills Church in San Mateo, Calif. Previously, Scott served as Vice President of Mobilization and Communications for ABWE and as a missionary in East Asia. Scott graduated from Northland International University (B.A. in Pastoral Studies), earned his M.A. in biblical studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, his M.B.A. from Cornerstone University, and is currently enrolled in Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s D.Min. program with an emphasis on missions.