Eliza Bridgman's lifelong ambition was to be a missionary. She began her work in China in 1844. Over the course of her career, she founded school for girls in Shanghai and Peking, giving opportunities for young women who otherwise would have ended up as prostitutes, in forced labor, or starving. Her school in Peking eventually became part of Yenching University, one of the first Chinese universities.
You can read more about a fascinating study about the positive long term affect proselytizing missionaries had on the cultures they served, in temporal terms as well as eternal. The pattern that emerges over time and across the globe is pretty astounding.