rescue mission

noun
mission ( def 16 ).

Origin:
1900–05

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

rescue mission

Christian religious organization established to provide spiritual, physical, and social assistance to the poor and needy. It originated in the city mission movement among evangelical laymen and ministers early in the 19th century. The work of city missions resembles that of settlement houses, institutional churches, and charitable societies, but city missions usually also emphasize religious conversion through evangelistic preaching services.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
One mistook him for a helicopter on a search-and-rescue mission.
They began mounting a rescue mission before they received the first distress
  call.
It had been called on for a search-and-rescue mission.
The primary drama here, though, involves a rescue mission--scaling down the icy
  crag rather than continuing up it.
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