When this year started I had planned an article for the summer with some uplifting books you could read on your summer vacations (preferably on a beach somewhere-a girl can dream) but as 2020 unfolded I now bring you a list of books you should read as we face whatever will come next.
Because as I look to the future, I can’t help but be drawn to the past. Now, more than ever, it is important for us to not forget the Christian men and women who have gone before us. Who took the gospel to those who hadn’t heard it yet, who stood up against injustice, who loved in the midst of war, who pointed to Christ when all else seemed lost.
I also think considering the current dissatisfaction with history, particularly here in the United States, it’s all the more important to look for those in history who we can set as examples of good. We need them in this current season. We need this “cloud of witnesses” as we face our own futures. That way we’ll be emboldened to stand for the light when all else seems dark. We need to be reading biographies and autobiographies now more than ever!
A Cloud of Witnesses Worth Reading
So, maybe if you’re not much of a reader- or if you have young readers in your home- you can start with a little book series that I devoured in the early 90s called the Heroes of Faith. If you check out one of my personal favorites, Samuel Morris, on Amazon, you’ll quickly go down a whole rabbit hole of other books from the series including: C.S. Lewis, Hudson Taylor, Eric Liddell...but also don’t miss out on the ladies. These little fast reads are a great way to get introduced to the likes of Fanny Crosby and Mary Slessor, or this boxed set(which I just added to my own Amazon Wish List) has two of my favorites on Corrie Ten Boom and Amy Carmichael. This brings me to my point: These are great “gateway” books into the wonderful world of missionary biographies. A world I’ve been happily living in for most of my life.
The Stories Along My Way
These missionaries and their faith have paved an important path in my own walk with Jesus. Corrie Ten Boom’s In my Father’s House (the prequel to her best seller book The Hiding Place about her time in a concentration camp during World War II) was in important book for my rebellious teenage heart to see how standing up for Jesus in the smallest of ways could impact ones future.
Books lit a fire of passion for the Gospel during my years in University, books like Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur, the story of Amy’s work with children in India, destined for a life of temple prostitution during the early 1900s. Or Bruchko the story of 19-year-old Bruce Olsen who went into the jungles of South America to reach a murderous unreached tribe for Jesus. These books took me out of my sheltered view of the world and showed me a God who could do the miraculous in people's hearts. I remember how I stayed up too late finishing up God's Smuggler, the story of a young man who miraculously brought thousands of Bibles over the borders of the Soviet Union, before an exam and almost failing the test I had the next morning! While I may have not learned *all* the lessons at hand during this season, I am grateful for the people of faith I read about. It honestly shaped my life more than whatever exam I was taking (I don't remember what it was!).
Again, I remember vividly re-reading Green Leaf in Drought about the Matthews family who found themselves under house arrest in China during the communist uprising of the 1950s. The book tells how they endured trial after trial without much fruit to be seen. I read it while I was on bedrest trying to keep my unborn daughter alive, after just losing our other daughter just weeks before. Talk about a book for perspective in times of suffering!
Similarly, I read And the Word Came with Power an incredible story of two Bible translators living amongst the Ifugao people of the Philippines, when I was going through a particularly discouraging season in our house church ministry a few years ago. This book reminded me that the very Word of God holds power to break every chain the enemy has built. It truly helped shape my faith as we moved forward in that hard ministry season.
The Stories for Tomorrow
As we find our place in our own piece of Church history, I hope the lives of those who have gone before can inspire and remind us that the power of the Holy Spirit can be alive and working today in similarly powerful ways in each of us if we, too, are willing. So, if you're in need of a little inspiration this summer we hope you'll check out some of these biographies as a jumping off point! Let us know you're favorite.
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