Denis Burkitt was motivated by Christian Evangelism from his early years. It was a critical factor not only in his personal development and decision to work in Uganda, but also in his medical achievements. The events in his life which led to his description of Burkitt lymphoma in 1958 are described together with his discovery of the endemic nature of the condition and its treatment. His research on the aetiology of the condition is also described. The endemic form of the lymphoma is still a major cause of childhood mortality in Africa due to a lack of basic resources to treat the condition. Burkitt Lymphoma has been used as a model to advance research and treatment on a wide range of conditions in haematology and oncology. Burkitt's work in later life on dietary fibre and its implications are summarised.