5 Books to Read Before Becoming a Missionary


Suffering Is Never for Nothing

Elisabeth Elliot

Prospective missionaries need to prepare themselves for disappointments. As one well acquainted with sorrow and loss, Elliot writes a personal, practical, and elegant reminder that not an ounce of suffering in a believer’s life is wasted. Her sage words encourage us to remember that no matter what happens, we are not adrift in chaos but are held by the everlasting arms of a father in complete control of all things.

Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary

J. D. Greear

Missionaries are often tempted to base their identity in what they do for the kingdom. This can turn loving God and others into something like a chore. Greear assures readers that the gospel turns drudgery into delight, and it alone produces love for God in our hearts. I read this book yearly while on the field for its reminder that without love, even the most radical devotion to God lacks value.

Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China

Janet & Geoff Benge

I find myself continually recommending missionary biographies to future missionaries. For parents, I always urge teaching kids about saints who sacrificed much to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. One good source for books in this vein is the YWAM publishing series Christian Heroes: Then & Now. I especially love this volume on Lottie Moon, whose persistent gospel witness in China is a testament to God’s faithfulness.

No Shortcut to Success: A Manifesto for Modern Missions

Matt Rhodes

In an endeavor as urgent as missions, it is tempting to seek speedier ways to accomplish the task at hand. But Rhodes emphasizes the reality that there are no easy pathways through the long, hard work of learning languages, planting churches, and making disciples. His book provides a needed reminder that the missionary’s call is worth every moment we invest.

A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story

Michael W. Goheen

When confronted with rejection or slow progress, missionaries might wonder whether their work is truly effective. During these times, it’s important to recall that God’s mission to make himself known began with Creation and stretches into eternity. A Light to the Nations provides a helpful biblical theology of missions that nests our own efforts in the grand story that God has been telling throughout time.

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