Remembering our history

The Swedish Missionary Lady

Ellen Modin was born in Sweden, came to America and shared the gospel with Mormons.

Ellen Modin was the first missionary sent out by the EFCA, to reach the Scandinavian Mormons in Utah in 1885. The Swedish Free Churches in the U.S. came together in part to send missionaries, a difficult task for individual churches.

Born in Sweden, Modin immigrated to America in 1881 at age 28.  After hearing God’s call through Fredrik Franson’s challenge to reach the Mormons, she responded and worked there nearly 6 years, ministering primarily to the Swedish Mormon women. A reporter for the Salt Lake City Herald referred to her as, “Miss Modin, The Swedish Lady Missionary.”

In 1891, she returned to Minnesota and founded The Women’s Alliance Mission Home offering Bible training courses for women who became traveling evangelists for revival meetings in churches. 

In 1897, she founded the Scandinavian Home of Shelter in Minneapolis, a ministry for young pregnant women, providing a place for them to stay and help with adoption of their newborns. In 1910, she became an activist to close the red-light district in Minneapolis and later started an orphanage. She never received a salary, preferring to live by faith and watch God provide.

The author of three books, some using the pseudonym “E.M.,” she also founded a monthly paper on ministries of compassion which was published for 30 years. Her autobiography Det Gjorde Gud (God Did It) is a remarkable story of God’s working through a woman fully committed to Him. The book is now translated in English and you can download it for free here.

All her life, Ellen Modin was a missionary who balanced evangelism, training and ministries of compassion. She gave glory to God in all she did.

Tom Cairns

Tom Cairns is the archivist for the EFCA. A physician who worked for 19 years in Congo, Tom later served as director of international ministries for the EFCA mission, now known as ReachGlobal. Since retirement, Tom enjoys sharing stories about the history of the EFCA, answering questions from our churches and helping the churches with their own stories. He also uploads our historical books, photos and documents to our archive website. Tom’s great desire is to bring glory to God as we celebrate the history we have in the EFCA.

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