This essay examines the reasons why some young Fang men supported Presbyterian missionary Robert Milligan's crusade to establish a Protestant community of converts at the turn of the twentieth century. Milligan presented his work as an example of heroic and muscular Christianity that transformed young Gabonese men. However, his methods of attracting followers appear very similar to those used by local big men: creating kinship networks, providing military support, sharing imported goods and providing access to women for marriage. Fang men and Milligan shared a flexible vocabulary of fatherhood that placed obligations on converts and missionaries alike. Eventually, Milligan's efforts came undone because of problems with other missionaries, but young Fang men continued to turn to missionary patronage, in part to cope with gender tensions and struggles over status.