5 Recommended Books for Missionaries

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Baptist Mid-Missions (BMM) is our mission board. When we went to Candidate Seminar, we learned so much. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes for every missionary on deputation. At Candidate Seminar, we were also given homework. One assignment was to read a selection of books about missions. We were asked to read these books for missionaries before we complete deputation.

There are different required reading lists for BMM missionaries depending on your field. For instance, since we are called to serve at Missionary Acres, The Art of Aging by Howard Eyrich was on our list. Also, as missionaries in the United States, another book on the list was Missions USA by Earl Parvin. Missionaries going to foreign fields have different books they are required to read.

Over the past two years, we’ve enjoyed reading these books. They have taught us a lot and challenged us to think about missions in a new way.

If you’re looking for some great books for missionaries to read, give these ones a try!

Note: This is not a complete list of the required reading for BMM. It is just a few of the titles on the list from 2018. 

1. Foreign to Familiar by Sarah A. Lanier

This book isn’t just for missionaries, but it offers practical information about different cultures around the world. It explores common cultural themes based on geographical area.

The author uses the terms “hot climate” and “cold climate” to describe cultures, though she acknowledges that even within these broader generalizations, there will be distinct differences based on the demographics and other elements.

You won’t find a rigid list of “do this, not that” in this book. Instead, it attempts to have you challenge your own cultural assumptions. What you consider to be rude in an area may actually be a cultural norm.

So, instead of getting mad, it’s worthwhile to step back and study the culture. And this book gives you some framework to begin doing just that.

These cultural differences even occur within the same country. Up in Washington State, where we currently live, life moves at a little faster pace than it does in southern Missouri. There are just differences, and it’s important to realize that.

If you’re looking for a quick read to help you prepare for a mission trip, or any trip to a different area, you should read this book.

2. Third Culture Kids by David C. Pollock, Ruth E. Van Reken, and Michael V. Pollock

As missionaries who are also parents, it’s important to keep in mind that these changes in our life will have an impact on our kids. Though this book is not written specifically for missionaries, it is a good read for anyone who is raising kids in a different area.

While we are staying in the United States, we are moving a long ways away from the family farm here in Washington. Our kids are going to leave behind everything familiar, and we need to be mindful of this and seek God’s wisdom in helping them make that transition. There needs to be a lot of grace.

This book is a bit dry, but stick with it. It really has well researched information that is practical. There are also some interesting stories sprinkled throughout that really offer illustrations of what is being taught.

There are positives and negatives to being a missionary kid (or a different type of third culture kid). This book covers both in a realistic way. It doesn’t polish the negatives or minimize their impact.

Being aware of these downsides and potential problems is important. If you aren’t, you won’t be looking for them or take steps to help.

If you’re looking for a book to help your kids prepare to transition to a new area, or are already parenting a third culture kid, you should definitely read this one.

3. Burning Wicks by Polly Strong

Are you interested in the history of Baptist Mid-Missions? This book covers the journey of Michigan Pastor William Haas, and his wife Genevieve, to Africa in 1911. Seeing a great need there and desiring more help, they returned to the United States, praying for more workers for the field.

Back in the states, the Haas family helped organize the General Council of Cooperating Baptist Missions of North America, Inc. at First Baptist Church in Elyria, Ohio. This was nearly 100 years ago, back on October 15th, 1920. Eventually, the name was changed to Baptist Mid-Missions. But no matter the name, this organization is still doing God’s work, spreading the gospel around the world.

The history of Baptist Mid-Missions is full of emotional stories. There are sorrows, tears, and death, along with joy and gladness. But through it all, God has been there.

If you want to learn more about BMM and heroic early missionaries who made this organization possible, you should give this book a read.

4. Have We No Rights by Mabel Williamson

As missionaries, you don’t get to waltz into your field and demand that things be done your way. Your comfort and social norms are not the priority. Being a blessing to those you are serving is.

In many ways, you give up your personal rights as a missionary. Instead of worrying about your rights, you submit yourself to God and seek His will. It isn’t an easy process, but with God all things are possible.

And this book explores this concept of giving up personal rights in an easy to read way. Many stories are intertwined. Many of them feature missionaries to China. These stories give God the glory, sharing what was accomplished when missionaries submitted.

This is an older book, first written in the late 1950s. While it doesn’t have current examples, the concepts are timeless. They are still relevant today (perhaps more so in our “me centered” world.)

If you’re looking for a short read to help you prepare for missionary service, try this book.

5. Missions USA by Earl Parvin

Note: Look for a used copy of this hard to find book on Alibris or eBay. It’s definitely expensive on Amazon…

This book is dry, reading more like a textbook than a guide or story driven narrative. That’s just a quick warning so you know what to expect.

But, despite being harder reading, this book is full of valuable information. The United States is full of lost people who don’t know Jesus as their Savior. And unfortunately, many people don’t consider the US to be a real mission field. They only consider foreign missionaries to be “legit”.

In this book, Dr. Parvin shares many tables, lists, maps and more to share information about the potential mission field right here in the US. If you want to reach people for Christ, you don’t have to leave the country.

One downside of this book is its age. This went to print in 1985. All of the information and numbers are old. But, given the current state of our country, you know the numbers haven’t really improved that much.

This book makes a great resource for churches and missionaries to use to help reach the lost Americans. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential for service here in the states, you’ll find a lot of information in these pages.

What Books for Missionaries Have You Read?

Now that we’ve finished the required titles from Baptist Mid-Missions, we’re working on reading some of their recommended ones. But, we’re always looking for new titles to check out. If you have a favorite missionary book, please share the title in the comments section below.

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