There are almost endless books on Christian missions to read. Rather than try to identify the best, we decided to ask missionaries for their favorites. This list is a perfect mix of memoir, faith-building insights and cultural education. And they’ve all proven themselves invaluable to missionaries around the world.
Check out the list, and then be sure to share your favorite books on missions in the comments!
Recommended by Amie Bockstahler, missionary to Guatemala
Demanding your rights is a treasured American pastime. But is it compatible with the mission field? That’s the question Williamson, an American missionary to China, sets out to answer. She explains why Christians must be willing to give up their rights to comfort, health, safety, friends, romance, family and home.
“We must ask ourselves whether we need to give up some … rights in order to better share the Gospel of Christ,” says TEAM missionary Amie Bockstahler. “Not that we go to the other extreme and become prideful sufferers, but that we release all areas of our life to the Lord and seek His wisdom and … example for how we live.”
Recommended by Dan Hubert, missionary to the Philippines
Foreign to Familiar is a must-read if you’re going from a cold-climate culture to a hot-climate culture. “Lanier’s book provides a good comparison to what Western missionaries are used to in our home country … and what they might be facing in another country,” says TEAM missionary Dan Hubert.
You’ll explore differences in identity, communication, privacy, planning and more. The practical tips will be invaluable as you start your new life abroad. And at 128 pages, this book is a quick read.
Recommended by Nancy Leet, missionary to Taiwan
“Bruchko showed me how the truth can be presented in a way that can be understood by the local culture,” says missionary Nancy Leet. This memoir tells the story of Bruce Olson. At 19, he was committed to reaching the Motilone Indians of Colombia. After teaching himself three languages, Olson set off for the jungles of South America to fulfill that mission.
Olson spent five years living with the Motilone before he could effectively share the Gospel with them. When he did, he made sure to do it in a way that was culturally understandable. He brought them the word of Christ, but not an American gospel. Bruchko is a fantastic adventure that will inspire believers to greater love and service to Christ.
Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes by Jackson W. and E. Randolph Richards
Reading While Black by Esau McCaulley
Recommended by Anonymous in Asia
How do your cultural biases affect your reading of the Bible? And how will Scripture be perceived in the culture you’re going to serve? Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes and Reading While Black explore these questions from two different cultural perspectives. Each one gives you tools to know God more deeply and serve more effectively.
“The missionary needs to know that Jesus’ words, ‘You must be born again,’ sound more like a curse than good news to most Hindus or Buddhists,” an anonymous missionary says. “Why? Because they are trapped in the exhausting cycle of being born again and again. The missionary must look for other biblical themes that more effectively communicate the hope of Jesus Christ, such as Paul’s description of being rescued from the dominion of darkness.”
These books will challenge the way you read Scripture, and they’ll equip you to share it with greater effectiveness.
Recommended by Vicki Reyes, missionary to Mexico
“If you go to China, it will be over my dead body,” Isobel Kuhn’s mother told her. It would be the first of many challenges Kuhn faced leading up to and during her time as a missionary. But Kuhn believed the obstacles and discouragements Christians face aren’t a punishment. Referring to 1 Corinthians, Kuhn says they’re an avenue for God to reveal Himself to the people around us.
TEAM worker Vicki Reyes discovered this book long before she became a missionary to Mexico. “Even then, I was encouraged by Kuhn’s frank admission of her own shortcomings,” Reyes says, “her frustration with people and situations, and her delight in seeing the Lord’s hand resolve those issues — while making her wiser and more like Christ.”
Recommended by Doug Everswick, missionary to Zimbabwe
TEAM ministry leader Doug Everswick calls this book “a must-read for any Westerner planning to live and minister in sub-Saharan Africa.” Maranz explores the frustrations Africans and Westerners experience due to their different approaches to money, time and relationships. Through practical insights and personal anecdotes, Maranz explains money-related African behaviors and how African economic goals differ from that of Western cultures.
“Each person comes with a worldview and cultural logic that is assumed to be shared by most others, when in fact they may be very different,” says Everswick. “This book does a great job of exposing our cultural preconceptions, which often lead us, unwittingly, into misunderstandings and conflict.”
Recommended by Sharon Owen, missionary to Spain
“Prayer has been hedged about with too many man-made rules. I am convinced that God has intended prayer to be as simple and natural and as constant a part of our spiritual life as the intercourse between a child and his parent,” Goforth writes. A missionary at the turn of the 20th century, Goforth shares how she saw God’s definitive answers to prayer in times of great need.
TEAM missionary Sharon Owen received How I Know as a Bible college student and has read it many times in the 38 years since. “It’s very short and such an encouragement to remember the power of prayer no matter what the need.”