Our History

The roots of China Service Ventures run deep in the center of China. 

In 1890, a farmer from Iowa with a clear call to missionary service in China, sold his farm and all his possessions and left for China with $500 in his pocket.  In 1901, Daniel Nelson moved his family from the large city of Wuhan, in Hubei Province, to begin a mission outpost in a much more remote town in southern Henan Province (about 500 miles west of Shanghai).

Over time, friends and churches began sending support.  Soon others were sent and joined Daniel in the work. By the time the Bamboo Curtain of communism closed China to the work of foreign missionaries in the early 1950's, 25 missionaries had served in this part of China, and built churches, schools, and hospitals.

Two of those missionaries were the grandparents of Dr Paul Martinson, himself a missionary and then a teacher at Luther Seminary. Paul and his wife Ida, along with Charlotte Gronseth, Paul Ofstedal and several others, had a vision of returning to this area of early mission work in China. Knowing that missionaries were still not welcome in China, and that Henan is one of China's poorest provinces, they envisioned a Christian organization serving the rural poor and giving witness to the gospel through Jesus words: "Not to be served, but to serve."

The fruit of their labor is China Service Ventures. The organization was formally incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2000.  

CSV continues God's work in the same place where it began in 1901.