My Top 5 Missionary Biographies

Jim Elliot and co

One of my friends recently asked me what were my top 5 missionary biographies, so I thought I may as well post it on here!

Missionary Biographies have been so important in my life. They have inspired me when I was feeling spiritually dull. They mentored me along unknown paths. They taught me to surrender my whole life to God rather than just the ‘Sunday’ part.

They have been my example – what Paul talks about when he says:

‘Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises’ Hebrews 6:12 (NKJV)

So here are my top 5 – the ones that I underlined and highlighted and treasured more than any others! I will tell you the specific book that I have read, but also recommend some others related to them.

I do think that the author of the biography can make a big difference – don’t just get any old one. Some of them have lots of facts and be as dry as anything. My favourites are the ones that are realistic and inspiring – that give you real stories and quotes with spiritual meaning and depth.

Also if you’re not a great reader, a good set of biographies to start with are the ones by Janet and Geoff Benge – the series is called Christian Heroes: Then & Now. They are aimed at ages 10+ but are fine for adults to read too, and they are easy to read yet full of inspiration as well.

I have included the links and pictures of the books so you can buy them easily on if you want. I am an affiliate, but only will link to what I recommend, and am doing it more for your benefit than anything – I have not earned anything from links yet!

1. Isobel Kuhn – ‘By Searching’ an Autobiography

Isobel Kuhn was a missionary with China Inland Mission. The chapter that really spoke to me and changed my life when I was 18 years old was the one called ‘Extinguished Tapers’, where God led her to extinguished various ‘tapers’ or wordly amusements in her life. It made me start praying about my life and figuring out what I was into that might not be helping me with my relationship with God. There is also a great sequel to this book called ‘In The Arena’

2. Amy Carmichael – ‘Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur’ by Frank Houghton

This is an amazing book about an amazing person. Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India and clearly had a spiritually deep relationship with God and was willing to put everything else on the line in order to serve Him.

3. Hudson Taylor – ‘Hudson Taylor In Early Years – The Growth of a Soul’ by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Hudson Taylor went out to China and founded China Inland Mission. One thing that really stuck in my head from reading about him was that he learned ‘ to move men, through God, by prayer alone.’ So often I’ve thought of that when I’ve worried about someone or something, and turned it to prayer instead, waiting for God to move the people concerned. It is a big book but full of great stuff!

Also the sequel to this – ‘Hudson Taylor and The China Inland Mission – The Growth of a Work of God’ is really good. ‘Hudson Taylor – Lessons in Discipleship’ by Roger Steer is another good book, full of practical spiritual lessons we can learn from his life, though not a biography as such.

4. Jim Elliot – ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ by Elisabeth Elliot

Jim Elliot and 4 other men were martyred when they went to go preach the gospel to the tribe of Auca Indians in Ecuador. His biography is so inspiring. I remember reading about how he would put people on prayer cards and then stand in line for food at college and pray for them, and how he was willing to give up the one woman he loved if it turned out to interfere with God’s call on his life.

If you want to read the overview of how the 5 of them ended up in Ecuador and what led up to their being martyred, you can read ‘Through Gates of Splendour’ by Elisabeth Elliot’. Also if you don’t mind some hard reading with good payoff, Jim Elliot’s journals have some wonderful content!

You can also read an interesting blog post here summarising the story of why those missionaries were killed and how eventually the tribe turned to Christ.

5. George Muller – ‘Delighted in God’ by Roger Steer

George Muller founded a big orphanage in Bristol after an epidemic which left many children without parents and having to go to the workhouse. What is inspiring about his story is how he had so many children to take care of, but no solid or steady income. He would often pray, and what they needed would turn up on the spot.

If you need more faith in God this is a great one to read! He has also written an autobiography.

Hopefully this helps you if you are looking for some missionary biographies! If you need more recommendations feel free to contact me.

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9 Responses

  1. Cathy says:

    These all sound really good! I haven’t read any of them, though I have read some books by Amy Carmichael, as well as Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, which was really great. I’ll have to check some of these out. Thanks for sharing. : )
    Cathy recently posted…Torn Asunder – A Giveaway!!My Profile

    • Rhoda says:

      Thanks for visiting! Yes I heard that Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret was good – I think it might be the shorter version ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Awesome, I was just thinking of my reading from 2014 and looking forward to 2015. I was hoping to add a few good biographies on there. The Hudson Taylor one looks like a great one to grab!
    Loren Pinilis recently posted…Thursday Time Tip: Protecting Your Time from Your Spouse (and Respecting Their Time)My Profile

  3. lynne says:

    Amy Carmichael has always been an inspiration to me. I am now reading her bio written by Elizabeth Elliott. It is also excellent.
    I came to this website looking for a quote that has been ringing in my head but do not recall all the words or who wrote it. Maybe you can help me. It goes something like this: “MARK YOUR CROSS ON ALL FOND DESIRES AND ALL THINGS THAT SELF INSPIRES. AND WHEN THE TOUCH OF DEATH APPEARS HERE AND THERE, MAY I RECOGNIZE IT AS AN ANSWER TO THIS PRAYER.” BLESS YOU.

    • Rhoda says:

      Hi Lyn, yes that poem is on the left sidebar of my website – here it is: ‘Lord crucified, O mark Thy holy Cross On motive, preference, All fond desires; On that which self In any form inspires Set Thou that Sign of loss. And when the touch of death Is here and there Laid on a thing Most precious in our eyes, Let us not wonder; Let us recognize The answer to this prayer’. Amy Carmichael wrote it.

  4. DHoffman says:

    Have you read Grace Fabian’s book: Outrageous Grace?

  5. Ivan Jordon says:

    The words of GOD totally enlightens our soul.
    Ivan Jordon recently posted… โ€“ 100+ Parenting MistakesMy Profile