Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Cheese, John Ethelstan

Anglican Communion

John Ethelstan Cheese was an independent missionary in Somalia. Evidencing a mixture of eccentricity and piety, Cheese was described as “the holiest man in Somalia” by one who knew the affection in which he was held by the Somali peoples. He graduated from Cambridge University, was ordained by the Church of England, and began his missionary career among Druze villagers in pre-World War I Lebanon. In 1925, following a period of itinerant preaching among Palestinian Bedouins, he moved to British Somaliland. Here, for 33 years, he lived the simple life of a simple holy man, emulating what he believed to be “the Presence of Christ” among the Somali peoples. Never employed by a mission agency, Cheese paved the way for the work of the Sudan Interior Mission among Somali Muslims.

David A. Kerr


Philip Cousins, “Twentieth Century St. Francis,” Theology 81 (1978): 90-96; Constance Padwick, “Unpredictable: Impressions of the Life and Work of John Ethelstan Cheese,” The Muslim World 57 (1967): 265-276.

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.