After years of training and sending missionaries, I am keenly aware that youth who desire to serve on mission fields need more training. Many times prospective missionaries ask me, “What books should I read to prepare for future mission work?” I want to take a few minutes and share with you some counsel along these lines.

  • Self-denial: We live in soft America. Because of this, missionaries in training must begin their training in self-denial. You will be doing this twenty times a day on the field. There are many ways you can practice this foundational quality. You must learn to eat foods that taste different. You must learn to get up in the morning and feed yourself spiritually. You must learn to keep on going when you get sick. You must learn to deny yourself in many areas of life.
  • Bible knowledge: You must be in the Bible continually. You should be working your way through the entire Bible on a regular basis. Several times a year should be the norm. Secondly, go through a Bible survey book to get a grasp of each book in the Bible. In Bible schools, a Bible survey course is the first thing each student does. I recommend J Sidlow Baxter’s Explore the Book. All of our children go through this survey book at age 16.
  • Missionary biographies: I believe that to read biographies of missionaries is to study missions by practical examples. This is very important. Reading books like this will cause you to place yourself in the shoes of many different missionaries. This is training for real life situations in your future. You should be reading them all the time. Following are a list of many biographies, but I want to highlight two. The two volume set of Hudson Taylor’s life and mission is a must read. You will gain much insight into what real mission life will be like and about methods of missions. All of our missionaries have read this set. The other one, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker, is a biographical history of Christian missions. It covers 2,000 years with over one hundred short biographies of missionaries.
  • Missiology: I encourage all students to get a grasp of the theology and methodology of missions. What does the Bible say about missions and methods? These are questions that need to be answered in the students mind long before they reach a mission field. I recommend George W. Peters book, A Biblical Theology of Missions. This book is solid Bible theology. Every student must work their way through this book, even if they have to use a dictionary to help them. Another important work is The Indigenous Church by Melvin Hodges.
  • Mission awareness: Jesus commanded us to lift up our eyes and look at the fields waiting to be harvested. We must have information in order to do this. Every student should have Operation World by Patrick Johnstone. This book is a valuable tool for prayer and also for information. Where do you go after you have prepared? This book will give you lots of options to pray about.
  • Missionary inspiration: I have made a separate category for books that challenge, convict, and inspire. We all need this from time to time. First and foremost in this group is L E Maxwell’s book, World Missions Total War. This book is worth its weight in gold. I mean this sincerely. I have never read a book on missions that so convicted me yet stirred me on in my vision as this one has. The other one I would encourage you to read is by Oswald J Smith, The Challenge of Missions. All of Isobel Kuhn’s books are also excellent.
  • Missions to Muslims: This is my last category. Muslims are one of the largest groups of unreached peoples on earth. One billion people are represented here. We must prepare to reach them or they will soon reach us, or our children. Answering Islam by Norman Gieser is a good book to help you to become aware of who these dear people are. The other book I recommend is Reaching Muslims for Christ by William J. Saal. This is also an entry-level book on Islam.

These words are meant to be helpful counsel from years of experience. You will find below, a longer list of recommended books for further study.

— Bro. Denny

Book List

Bruchko by Bruce Olson
C.T. Studd by Norman Grubb
From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker
Himalayan Heartbeat by Ken Anderson
Hudson Taylor Biographies by Howard Taylor (biography and missiology)
I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh (This is an autobiography dealing with Islam)
In the Arena by Isobel Kuhn
J. Hudson Taylor: Man in Christ by Roger Steer
Let Me Die in Ireland by David Bercot
Mountain Rain by Eileen Crossman
Though Lions Roar by Mary Beth Lagerborg
Torn Veil by Thelma Sangster

Challenge of Missions by Oswald J. Smith
Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Khun
Key to Missionary Problem by Andrew Murray
Let the Nations Be Glad! by John Piper
Nests Above the Abyss by Isobel Kuhn
Second-Mile People by Isobel Kuhn
Whom God Has Joined by Isobel Kuhn
World Missions: Total War by L. E. Maxwell

Biblical Theology of Missions by George W. Peters
Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson (story form)
Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson (story form)
Peace Child by Don Richardson (story form)
Ministering Cross-Culturally by Sherwood Lingenfelter

Dictionary of World Missions (definitions, biographies, etc)
Operation World by Patrick Johnstone

African Friends and Money Matters by David Maranz (cultural guide on money matters)
When Charity Destroys Dignity by Glenn Schwartz (book on the right use of money)

Answering Islam by Norman Gieser (entry level book on Islam)
Have We No Rights? by Mabel Williamson (deals with self denial on the mission field)
Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Hudson Taylor (deals with deeper spiritual issues)
Indigenous Church by Melvin Hodges (study in missionary methods)
Reaching Muslims for Christ by William J. Saal
Serving As Senders by Niel Pirolo (about supporting missionaries)
So Send I You by Oswald Chambers (deep challenging thoughts on missions)