In 1826, David Nasmith, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, had a vision for pioneering a method of Christian care that could meet people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. He started the world’s first rescue mission, Glasgow City Mission, as an interdenominational lay movement. Founded at a time of great poverty and distress in the city, they practiced and proclaimed the gospel among the city’s poorest and devised creative partnerships with churches and civic agencies to provide spiritual and practical care for young people, juvenile and adult offenders, as well as the sick and needy.
Glasgow City Mission realized that to share the Christian message one had to help the whole person. The ministry responded to high illiteracy rates by being one of the first charities in the world to provide evening literacy classes for adults in the 1830s. They had an equal concern for young people and provided groundbreaking evening “Chimney Sweep Schools” for children who worked to pay for their education. As living standards in Glasgow improved, Glasgow City Mission adjusted to meet the changing needs of the city, focusing those on the fringes of society.