Our History

ABWE's first missionary, Dr. Rafael Thomas
Our first president, Mrs. Lucy Peabody


ABWE was born out of an indomitable passion for sharing the gospel.

In 1927, when lifelong missionary Dr. Raphael Thomas’ mission board told him to stop preaching the gospel and focus only on medicine in the Philippines, he boldly refused and resigned after 23 years of loyal service. He didn’t know what he would do next, but God was planning something amazing.


Upon returning to the US, Dr. Thomas gathered with a group of colleagues to pray for guidance, and that gathering birthed a new Baptist mission focused on reaching the Far East called the Association of Baptists in the Orient (ABEO).

Under the guidance of ABWE’s first president, Lucy Peabody, the mission steadily grew as church planting efforts took root in the Philippines and began spreading into other areas of Asia. Then in 1939, ABWE’s vision also grew, and we sent our first missionaries to Peru and was the start of The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE).

The ABWE Home Office, located just outside of Harrisburg, PA, was built in 1993 thanks to the help of 1,120 volunteers from 27 states and and eight foreign countries


Over the years, God has grown ABWE from a few missionaries in Asia to more than 900 missionaries serving in more than 70 countries around the world. Our missionaries and partners have shared God’s hope with millions of people, built hospitals to bring the gospel to hard-to-reach areas, and helped start and grow thousands of churches.

Thanks to God’s grace and the faithfulness of those who came before us, ABWE is continuing to multiply leaders, churches, and missions movements by sharing the story of hope, building communities of faith, and serving the world with love.