The Missionary Mindset series looks into the lives of notable missionaries to provide valuable insights and inspiration.
Despite living in the final days of the Crusades, Ramon Lull became the first western missionary to reach Muslims not with the sword, but with the gospel. His pursuit of intellect and apologetics led to an unprecedented platform to proclaim the love of Christ in the heart of the Western Islamic world. It was out of the wellspring of satisfaction he found in Jesus that he passionately devoted his life to the grave for Muslims to know Christ in North Africa.
Ramon’s life began in 1232, born under the roof of wealthy parents in Majorca, Spain. Following his affluent lifestyle, he married Blanca Picany, who was related to the future King of Majorca. Due to her connections, and his charm, Ramon was the Seneschal—administrative head of the royal household—to the future King. Despite his esteemed position, Lull lived as a troubadour, wooing women, writing love songs, and chasing satisfaction down countless, dead-end roads.
In his early thirties, Ramon had a startling encounter with Christ. During an evening of composing verses for his current romance, he received a vision of Christ hanging on the cross six times. Christ on the cross confronted Ramon’s life in the fullness of his depravity, and beckoned him to live a life sacrificed to the pursuit of proclaiming the gospel.
After his conversion, Ramon joined the Third Order of St. Francis, forsaking his family and position for a season of solitude and study. His former passions were transformed to a desire to leave all that he had known to reach Muslims in North Africa. In preparation to go, Ramon immersed himself in Islamic culture and learning Arabic with the help of his Muslim slave for nine years. During this period, he became a scholar, writing his first works, developing methods to evangelize Muslims through logic and the union of religious and philosophical truths, which led to his travels throughout Europe to meet with popes, kings, and other influential people to establish important linguistic colleges for future missions.
Ramon set out on his first missionary journey to reach Muslims at sixty years old. He settled in North Africa, the western center of the Muslim world, to engage scholars with the truth of God’s love and proclaimed the deity of Christ. All of the years Ramon spent being a troubadour, living before an audience were redeemed and used to equip him to boldly proclaim the mystery of the Kingdom of God. Due to his public message in the midst of religious strife due to the Crusades, Ramon was quickly imprisoned and banished from Tunis. However, that was not enough to hinder him from escaping and encouraging those who had come to faith before he finally journeyed back to Europe.
Fifteen years after he initially sailed for Tunis, Ramon went to Algeria, zealous for his Muslim cohorts to come to Christ. After years of appealing to universities to provide linguistic education, Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic were finally offered at Oxford, Paris, and other major Christian universities. He had begun to pave the way for language learning and acquisition for modern missionaries today.
Not too long after he was imprisoned, and refused to deny Christ in the face of torture and persecution. Much like the Apostle Paul, Ramon utilized his imprisonment to further the kingdom in prison.
Due to his favor among European kings the authorities knew they could not execute Ramon, and his case for Christ left them in fear of being unable to rebuttal him, so He was expelled from Algeria to only have him return to Bugia at the ripe age of eighty-two, in 1314. Despite his old age, Ramon was desperate for Muslims to know the love of Christ. After working in secret for a year to build up his fellow believers, he was publically stoned while beckoning his fellow men to submit to the Lordship of Christ.
He died as his faith and words were fulfilled, “It is my belief, O Christ, that the conquest of the Holy Land should be attempted in no other way than as Thou and Thy apostles undertook to accomplish it – by love, by prayer, by tears, and the offering up of our own lives”
More Inspiration from Ramon Llull
Ramon Lull was a man with a passionate love for Muslims who paved the way for generations to pursue studying language to better proclaim Christ to the nations. Below are a few powerful words Ramon wrote that inspire believers to live on mission despite the cost, transformed by the love of Christ.
- “Death has no terrors for a sincere servant of Christ who is laboring to being souls to a knowledge of the truth”
- “He who loves not lives not; he who lives by The Life cannot die.”
- “Men who die of old age, die owing to the want of natural warmth and an excess of cold; and therefore, may thy servant, if it please Thee, not die such a death, but die owing the glow of love, since Thou wert willing to die such a death.