A missionary is someone who travels to a foreign country to perform charitable work and, most commonly, to try to convert people to their faith.

Missionary can be a noun — the person who goes on a mission — or an adjective — the type of work done on such a trip. If your great-grandmother was a missionary for the Methodist church in Japan in the 1920s, her purpose there was to convince people to abandon their religion for Methodism. Presumably she did this missionary work because she thought it would save their souls.

Definitions of missionary
  1. noun
    someone sent on a mission--especially a religious or charitable mission to a foreign country
    synonyms: missioner
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    Pearl Sydenstricker Buck
    United States author whose novels drew on her experiences as a missionary in China (1892-1973)
    Pere Jacques Marquette
    French missionary who accompanied Louis Joliet in exploring the upper Mississippi River valley (1637-1675)
    Apostle of the Gentiles
    (New Testament) a Christian missionary to the Gentiles; author of several Epistles in the New Testament; even though Paul was not present at the Last Supper he is considered an Apostle
    Albert Schweitzer
    French philosopher and physician and organist who spent most of his life as a medical missionary in Gabon (1875-1965)
    Miguel Jose Serra
    Spanish missionary who founded Franciscan missions in California (1713-1784)
    Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu
    Indian nun and missionary in the Roman Catholic Church (born of Albanian parents in what is now Macedonia); dedicated to helping the poor in India (1910-1997)
    type of:
    religious person
    a person who manifests devotion to a deity
  2. noun
    someone who attempts to convert others to a particular doctrine or program
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    Apostle of Germany
    (Roman Catholic Church) Anglo-Saxon missionary who was sent to Frisia and Germany to spread the Christian faith; was martyred in Frisia (680-754)
    David Livingstone
    Scottish missionary and explorer who discovered the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls (1813-1873)
    Marcus Whitman
    United States frontier missionary who established a post in Oregon where Christianity and schooling and medicine were available to Native Americans (1802-1847)
    Saint Francis Xavier
    Spanish missionary and Jesuit who establish missionaries in Japan and Ceylon and the East Indies (1506-1552)
    Cyril, Saint Cyril, St. Cyril
    Greek missionary; the invention of the Cyrillic alphabet is attributed to him (826-869)
    type of:
    instructor, teacher
    a person whose occupation is teaching
  3. adjective
    relating to or connected to a religious mission
    synonyms: missional
Word Family

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