The most recommended books about missionaries

Who picked these books? Meet our 40 experts.

40 authors created a book list connected to missionary, and here are their favorite missionary books.
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Book cover of Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret

Harry Schaumburg Author Of Undefiled: Redemption from Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships

From my list on to survive and recover from marital unfaithfulness.

Who am I?

When writing about sexuality it is important to me to write about true intimacy. Especially for those who have broken their wedding vows and for those who have been betrayed, who still long for real intimacy with spiritual and sexual maturity. My book, False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction (1992), was the first Christian book published on the subject of sexual addiction. I have for over thirty years counseled 1000s of sexually broken people from all across the U.S. who came to see me for a week of intensive counseling. I have taught on the subject of sexuality in all fifty states as well as over twenty foreign countries. No subject is more important to our spiritual maturity and sexual maturity.

Harry's book list on to survive and recover from marital unfaithfulness

Harry Schaumburg Why did Harry love this book?

After the death of our daughter, shortly after birth, I felt abandoned by God and lost all desire to serve in any form of ministry. This book, above all others that I have read, helped me personally and spiritually to not only move on with my life, face new and challenging adversities, but to return to ministry; a ministry that has drawn in thousands from across the U.S. and from twenty-five foreign countries for a week of intensive counseling.

By Howard Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the classic biography of Hudson Taylor, the missionary to China and the founder of the China Inland Mission. This is a must read for anyone considering missions or already engaged in it and encouragement to any Christian.

Book cover of The Small Woman

Jamie Janosz Author Of When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up

From my list on gutsy, godly women.

Who am I?

I grew up attending a little Baptist church where we would host traveling missionaries. I remember one young woman in particular, Jane Vandenberg, who would open her bag to show us mementos from her life in Africa. As I listened to her stories, I admired how brave she was. I wanted to be like that! I served for 16 years as an English professor at Moody Bible Institute where I would share well-written and inspirational books with my students. And, as a Christian woman and mom, I think we need more role models for ourselves and for our daughters. Sharing the powerful biographies of Christian women is one way to make that happen!

Jamie's book list on gutsy, godly women

Jamie Janosz Why did Jamie love this book?

As a young girl, I loved missionary stories about women like Gladys Aylward who left their comfortable homes and traveled to remote countries to tell people about Jesus.

In 1930, Gladys traveled across Siberia by train to a remote town in northwest China. There, as an independent missionary, she shared God’s love and stood up against time-honored traditions that were harming young girls. This book is full of adventure, and doesn’t shrink from stomach-wrenching details.

I’ll never forget the vivid descriptions of foot-binding, and how Gladys fearlessly confronted and corrected this painful procedure, no doubt impacting lives forever.

By Alan Burgess,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Small Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rejected by mission agencies, Englishwoman earns the money to send herself to China. There she opens an inn for mule drivers, serves as "foot inspector," and advises the local Mandarin. But when the Japanese invade, she discovers her true destiny---leading 100 orphans across the mountains to safety.

Book cover of Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire

Stephen Tuffnell Author Of Made in Britain: Nation and Emigration in Nineteenth-Century America

From my list on the USA and the world in the nineteenth century.

Who am I?

I am a historian of the United States' global pasts. What excites me most in both research and teaching is approaching familiar topics from unconventional angles whether through unfamiliar objects or comparative perspectives. To do so I have approached the US past from the perspective of its emigrants and the global history of gold rushes, and am doing so now in two projects: one on the ice trade and another on the United States’ imperial relationship with Africa between the Diamond Rush of 1867 and the First World War. I currently teach at the University of Oxford where I am a Fellow in History at St Peter’s College.

Stephen's book list on the USA and the world in the nineteenth century

Stephen Tuffnell Why did Stephen love this book?

Reforming the World sees Ian Tyrrell, the master practitioner of transnational approaches to US history, at the peak of his powers. After tackling the world temperance movement, and US-Australian environmental connections, Tyrrell here turns to the “soft power” of Christian missionaries and evangelicals as they proselytized around the world and hoped to remake it in their image. You cannot fail to be gripped by the idiosyncratic personal histories of Tyrrell’s protagonists which he captures with characteristic attention to detail, humanity, and clear-eyed analysis. This is an important story in its own right, but what’s important is the way in which it sets the scene for US power in the twentieth century.

By Ian Tyrrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reforming the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reforming the World offers a sophisticated account of how and why, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American missionaries and moral reformers undertook work abroad at an unprecedented rate and scale. Looking at various organizations such as the Young Men's Christian Association and the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, Ian Tyrrell describes the influence that the export of American values had back home, and explores the methods and networks used by reformers to fashion a global and nonterritorial empire. He follows the transnational American response to internal pressures, the European colonies, and dynamic changes in global society.…

Book cover of The Last Aloha

Linda Ulleseit Author Of The Aloha Spirit

From my list on historical fiction about Hawaii.

Who am I?

I live in California and write novels based on my grandmother’s stories of our female ancestors. I love tales of everyday women who lived normal lives (according to them) but were quite remarkable to my 21st-century eyes. I wrote The Aloha Spirit about my husband’s grandmother, who was an amazing woman. His family is from Hawaii, and we visit there frequently. Anyone who spends time in the islands experiences the warm welcome of the people, which we know as the aloha spirit. I know Grandma had a difficult life, and I wrote the novel to explore how she might have overcome those difficulties to find her aloha spirit.

Linda's book list on historical fiction about Hawaii

Linda Ulleseit Why did Linda love this book?

Laura’s fiancé and father die, and she travels from San Francisco to Hawaii to live with missionary relatives. It’s 1886, and Honolulu is the sophisticated bustling capital of a prosperous modern kingdom. Laura’s missionary relatives actively work to bring down the monarchy while Laura goes to work for the royal family. She builds quite a bond with the last queen, Lili`uokalani, who is trying to save her kingdom. This book tells the compelling story of the Hawaiian kingdom’s last days from a point of view inside the royal family. 

By Gaellen Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Aloha as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BAIPA Award Winner: Best Historical Fiction.
How did Hawaii become part of America? This story, inspired by true events suppressed for nearly 100 years, is the one James Michener never wrote. In 1886, Laura Jennings travels to Hawaii to live with missionary relatives. She imagines she'll live in a grass hut, ministering to savages. When she arrives in Honolulu, she's surprised to find her relatives are among the wealthy elite plotting to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. And, far from being savages, the Hawaiians have developed a charming and prosperous Victorian kingdom. To avoid her conniving uncle's control, Laura leaves to…

Book cover of Fieldwork: A Novel

Dian Seidel Author Of Kindergarten at 60: A Memoir of Teaching in Thailand

From my list on helping “farangs” understand what makes Thailand tick.

Who am I?

After retiring from a career in climate science, I reinvented myself as an English teacher, a yoga instructor, and a writer. I write personal essays about my life experiences, in particular my time teaching in Thailand. Before I traveled to Thailand, while I was there, and when I returned home to the US, I devoured every book I could find that could help me make sense of Thai culture and manage as a farang (foreigner, Westerner) in the Land of Smiles. Here are my five picks for helping other farangs understand Thailand.

Dian's book list on helping “farangs” understand what makes Thailand tick

Dian Seidel Why did Dian love this book?

If the subtitle of Fieldwork wasn’t A Novel, I might have tagged it differently, because Mischa Berlinski is the name of both the author and the first-person narrator of this intricately woven tale.

The story, a murder mystery with cross-cultural dimensions, spans generations and continents and includes a fictional Thai hill tribe, early 20th-century American missionaries, mid-century Western anthropologists, and Mischa, a contemporary American journalist.

I loved that Mischa and his girlfriend move to Thailand on a whim after she learns online that all one needs to teach abroad is “a native command of English and a healthy pulse.” That observation and other aspects of her experience teaching in Thailand mirrored my own.

By Mischa Berlinski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fieldwork as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When his girlfriend takes a job in Thailand, Mischa Berlinski goes along for the ride, planning to enjoy himself and work as little as possible. But one evening a fellow expatriate tips him off to a story: a charismatic American anthropologist, Martiya van der Leun, has been found dead - a suicide - in the Thai prison where she was serving a life sentence for murder.Curious at first, Mischa is soon immersed in the details of her story, and this brilliant, haunting novel expands into a mystery set among the Thai hill tribes, whose way of life became a battleground…

Book cover of The Book of Strange New Things

J.D. Robinson Author Of The Last Shadow

From my list on embracing the “strangeness” of science fiction.

Who am I?

As much as I love the science of sci-fi, I’ve always been drawn to human stories—the ones that remain focused on the ways we respond to the most strange and exotic of circumstances. In the end, the exotic locales are set dressings, and the players should be people (at least in spirit) that we can relate to. But I especially like the stories that play at the edge of this line: is it possible for us to lose our humanity? Are we not who we thought we were when our circumstances change? Those themes of self-perception and loss are ones I’ve found myself exploring in my own fiction.

J.D.'s book list on embracing the “strangeness” of science fiction

J.D. Robinson Why did J.D. love this book?

This book tells the story of a religious man selected to meet the most alien of aliens far across the galaxy, leaving the woman he loves in the process. But their physical distance is the least of their concerns as he finds himself starting to question his most core beliefs as a missionary, and becoming ever more alienated from his own people even as he struggles to communicate his new, alien-inspired insights. Faber wrote this book as his own wife was dying, and I have to think that feeling of urgency and loss was interwoven into this amazing story. As a result, this book is one that touched me so deeply that I’m not sure I could read it a second time though.

By Michel Faber,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Book of Strange New Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I am with you always, even unto the end of the world . . .'

Peter Leigh is a missionary called to go on the journey of a lifetime. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Bea, he boards a flight for a remote and unfamiliar land, a place where the locals are hungry for the teachings of the Bible - his 'book of strange new things'. It is a quest that will challenge Peter's beliefs, his understanding of the limits of the human body and, most of all, his love for Bea.

The Book of Strange New Things is a wildly…

Book cover of Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II

Carole McDonnell Author Of Wind Follower

From Carole's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Armchair anthropologist Asian drama addict Christian Perseverer

Carole's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Carole's 10, and 12-year-old's favorite books.

Carole McDonnell Why did Carole love this book?

I’ve been going through a spiritual crisis for a while because of my son’s health and my own health. I decided to read religious books published before the 1950s, books whose theologies were free from American priorities. I wanted to understand suffering and endurance and read many books by Asian Christians, imprisoned martyrs, and missionaries.

Evidence Not Seen has tons of suffering and perseverance. The human soul needs books about heroes or people who triumph – especially for a spiritual, personal, or religious cause.

I knew little about the war’s effects on people in New Guinea and next to nothing about how the Japanese mistreated the white, native, and foreign communities on the island. Darlene Deibler Rose was a young missionary there, and her account is just plain harrowing. 

I kept thinking, “I could not endure any of this. Wow, some folks definitely have it worse than I do.”

By Darlene Deibler Rose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Evidence Not Seen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The True Story of One Woman's Triumph of Faith

Newlywed American missionary Darlene Deibler Rose survived four years in a notorious Japanese prison camp set deep in the jungles of New Guinea. Thinking she was never to see her husband again, Darlene Rose was forced to sign a false confession and face the executioner's sword, only to be miraculously spared.

Book cover of This Other Eden: A Novel

Randy Kraft Author Of Off Season

From Randy's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Introspective Observant Bookish Friendly

Randy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Randy Kraft Why did Randy love this book?

The story at the heart of this novel is based on an island off the coast of Maine that was settled in the mid-1800s by former slaves, some with native American DNA. There, they built a self-contained community without conflict until eugenicists and developers took over.

They were evicted, their homes burned, the dead exhumed and trashed, and several were committed to an asylum for supposedly feeble-minded. The story is, of course, disturbing; however, it is a fascinating anthropological journey, questioning the meaning of family and community and what it means to survive against the odds.

Another master class in superlative writing – the opening scene alone, describing a storm that batters the island, is reason enough to read Harding’s pitch-perfect prose.

No wonder the novel has been short-listed for both the Booker Prize and the National Book Award. Diaz, too, inspires me. 

By Paul Harding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Other Eden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1792, formerly enslaved Benjamin Honey and his Irish wife, Patience, discover an island where they can make a life together. Over a century later, the Honeys' descendants and a diverse group of neighbors are desperately poor, isolated, and often hungry, but nevertheless protected from the hostility awaiting them on the mainland.

During the tumultuous summer of 1912, Matthew Diamond, a retired, idealistic but prejudiced schoolteacher-turned-missionary, disrupts the community's fragile balance through his efforts to educate its children. His presence attracts the attention of authorities on the mainland who, under the influence of the eugenics-thinking popular among progressives of the…

Book cover of The Bible Handbook

Jass Richards Author Of The Blasphemy Tour

From my list on that dare to make fun of religion and/or gods.

Who am I?

I was raised to be a Roman Catholic. I was not raised to think very deeply, but I did anyway. Eventually.  When I was around fifteen, I started asking questions that irritated my parents. They referred me to our priest. Who basically patted me on the head and showed me the door. When the Pope said 'no contraception,' the shit really hit the fan. I haven't looked back. And I'm quite vocal about it because, damn it, religious beliefs and religions do damage, not the least of which involves hurting and killing people. (As for being funny, that's just icing on the cake.)

Jass' book list on that dare to make fun of religion and/or gods

Jass Richards Why did Jass love this book?

Published by the American Atheist Press, this isn't really a funny book, but since contradictions and absurdities figure prominently throughout the book, I'm listing it here. Next time anyone starts to defend their faith, give them a copy of this book. I'm sure some of what's in my own book was inspired by this book.

By W. P. Ball, G. W. Foote,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bible Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No bible-thumping missionary will ever be safe on your doorstep again! This book includes devastating evidence needed to prove the "Holy Bible" is actually wholly babble.

Book cover of My Several Worlds

Anna Wang Author Of Inconvenient Memories: A Personal Account of the Tiananmen Square Incident and the China Before and After

From my list on Westerners’ experience in China.

Who am I?

Anna Wang was born and raised in Beijing, China, and immigrated to Canada in her 40s. She received her BA from Beijing University and is a full-time bilingual writer. She has published ten books in Chinese. These include two short story collections, two essay collections, four novels, and two translations. Her first book in English, a 2019 memoir, Inconvenient Memories, recounts her experience and observation of the Tiananmen Square Protest in 1989 from the perspective of a member of the emerging middle-class. The book won an Independent Press Award in the "Cultural and Social Issues" category in 2020. She writes extensively about China. Her articles appeared in Newsweek, Vancouver Sun, Ms. Magazine, LA Review of Books China Channel, Ricepaper Magazine,, etc.

Anna's book list on Westerners’ experience in China

Anna Wang Why did Anna love this book?

Pearl S. Bucks was the first American woman who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She was brought to China by her missionary parents when she was an infant. She continued to spend much of the first half of her life in China from 1892 to 1934. This autobiography covers her growing up in China and returning to the U.S. Good-hearted and open-minded, she was the very few foreigners who had intimate access to ordinary Chinese people's lives and souls, which remain mysterious to most outsiders to this day. As a sharp-eyed observer and skillful writer, she gave an extraordinary account of the major events such as the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the Boxer Rebellion, and the civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists. The missionary work brought her to China in the first place, but in the end, she admitted failure in bringing God to China. Pearl…

By Pearl S. Bucks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Several Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drama Historical