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3 Missionary Biographies for Your Summer Reading

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Whether you're taking a break from assigned reading after a hard semester, gathering up books to take on vacation, or simply wanting to grow in your faith, you may be wondering, What should I read this summer?

To answer that question, I asked three different individuals–authors in their own right–to recommend one missionary biography and tell me how it has influenced them. Biographies are a good way to look outside of yourself and to step into the life of someone else. Since these specific biographies are about missionaries, you will get a glimpse of how God has worked in the life of these individuals for the spread of the gospel.

David Mathis (Executive Editor, Desiring God)

I cherish the autobiography of Darlene Rose, Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II. It is a riveting story of a young missionary, gripped by the global cause, separated from her husband, taken as a prison of war, and treated horribly by her captors. Stoke the fire of your zeal, not only for the Great Commission, but also the Great Shepherd, with her contagious love for him, as she walks through the haunting valley of death’s shadow.

 

David Sills (Southern Seminary Missions Professor and former IMB missionary to Ecuador)

Asking me my favorite missionary biography to recommend is like asking me my favorite verse of the Bible! There are many, and it depends on the situation. If I had to pick one though, I would probably say that the one that has impacted my life more than anything is a story more than a biography. Specifically, that of Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully. Of the dozens of books written about that story, I would say either Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot, or Shadow of the Almighty (the latest edition is expanded and entitled The Journals of Jim Elliot, edited by Elisabeth Elliot). Reading The Journals of Jim Elliot motivated me to constantly examine my life by the Word of God to ensure that I remained committed to go wherever God called and share the gospel in the places where it is most needed, staying faithful to the work that God called me to do. Seeing the life of Jim Elliot lived out in that book, watching him as a young man struggling with and growing in his faith, yet always remaining faithful to God's call on his life challenged me greatly. It ultimately was used by God powerfully as He moved us to serve as missionaries in Ecuador among the Quichua people. That same commitment eventually brought me to Southern Seminary to teach missions and to form Reaching & Teaching International Ministries to train pastors and leaders around the world who have no access to formal theological education.

Kathleen Nielson (Director of Women's Initiatives at TGC)

I highly recommend Sharon James' biography of Ann Judson, titled My Heart in His Hands. The subtitle–Ann Judson of Burma: A Life with Selections from her Memoir and Letters–reveals one of the loveliest aspects of this book: significant extracts from Ann's own writings are woven throughout, so that we get to hear her Scripture-filled voice and glimpse her Savior-filled heart. I have been moved and challenged by the story of this 19th-century woman who left a comfortable New England life to join her husband, Adoniram Judson, in gospel ministry in what is now Myanmar. She taught, befriended, mothered, translated, served, suffered, and rescued. She died at 37. Ann Judson was a woman of Spirit-filled courage whose story we should hear.

David Burnette serves as the Chief Editor for Radical. He lives with his wife and three kids in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves as an elder at Philadelphia Baptist Church. He received his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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