In a small kingdom between Spain and France, an aristocratic couple gave birth to Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta in 1506.
In 1525, young Francis went to Paris for his studies. In 1530, he received a Master’s Degree.
Then he taught philosophy.
He soon met Ignatius of Loyola and Pierre Favre. In 1534, they and a few others founded a new religious order they called the “Society of Jesus.” We know them as “Jesuits.”
Francis took a new name of Francis Xavier. He was the first Jesuit to become a foreign missionary.
Francis had two goals for his life:
- To lead non-Christians to initial faith in Jesus Christ. We call that the Ministry of Evangelism.
- To teach new Christians about the faith. We call that the Ministry of Discipleship.
In 1541, Francis left Portugal and traveled to INDIA. His initial target was the Portuguese people who had settled in the state of Goa.
But soon after learning more about the native peoples, he expanded his horizons.
He embarked on a missionary journey through most of southern India and SRI LANKA.
In 1545, Francis arrived in MALAYSIA and evangelized people there.
In 1546, he arrived in INDONESIA and evangelized people there.
Francis reached JAPAN in 1549. The local feudal ruler, a man named Shimazu Takahisa, warmly received him.
However, in the years that followed, Takahisa made it illegal for Japanese people to convert to faith in Christ. And he made it illegal for Japanese Christians to be taught the faith.
As Francis traveled in Japan, he found that other rulers gave him more permission for their region.
Like many outsiders, Francis found it very difficult to learn the Japanese language. And he found that Japanese people were not easily converted. Eventually, he founded three churches.
In 1552, he set sail for CHINA. En route, he died of a fever.
Francis was canonized a saint in 1622.
By any standard of comparison, the foreign missionary endeavors of Francis Xavier were breathtaking and heroic.
Here is a great quote from Francis:
Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do? Send me anywhere you like — even to India.
The Memorial of Francis Xavier is observed each year on December 3.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.