KariAnne texted me this week to ask for recommendations of biographies of missionary women. (Kari Ann is an emerging missionary herself, waiting on the Lord for His leading over the next years.)
Good question, KariAnne. Biographies are important, as I have articulated before on this forum. When we read biographies of people who love Christ, we are following the example Scriptures like Hebrews 11 which recount the faithfulness of God to His (sometimes) faithful people. It’s adventure literature, travel stories, spiritual development, humor, and history all rolled into one package. I like efficiency. Reading about these people’s lives helps us to recognize the faithfulness and challenge of God in our own lives.
So here are a briefly annotated short list of a few of my favorite biographies of female missionaries. I have linked each title to Amazon for your shopping convenience.
Burnham and Merrill. In the Presence of My Enemies. New York: Thorndike Press, 2010. Gracia Burnham and her husband were captured by terrorists and lived with them for one year in the Philippine Jungles. Her husband was accidently shot by the Philippine army and she herself was wounded but rescued. She gives an unexaggerated account of the one year she spent in terror as her faith was tested to the extreme.
Crocker. Pig in a Taxi and Other African Adventures. Baker Books, 2006. Why is ham pink, after all? Short stories from the daily life of a missionary, all tied together with the joy and loneliness and struggle and delight of serving Christ in a hard place. Each chapter contains a practical suggestion for how the reader can mor thoughtfully pray for missionaries.
Dodds. Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. Audubon Press & Christian Book Service, 2005. In what is deemed as a ‘must-read’ by R.C. Sproul, Elisabeth Dodds shows us the forgotten side of one of America’s best theologians and philosopher Jonathan Edwards as she gives us an account of what his marriage with Sarah Edwards was like.
Eliot. A Chance to Die: The life and Legacy of Amy Charmichael. 2005. It is no secret that Amy Charmichael, the single missionary to India from Belfast, is one of my favorite missionary stories. The impact of her more that 50 years of ministry is still felt in Ireland, India, and wherever her story is told. Here is info about her influence in Ireland: The Welcome Evangelical Church and book Amy’s Tin Tabernacle. And here is the ministry in India: Dohnavur Fellowship.
James. Ann Judson: A Missionary Life for Burma. Evangelical Press, 2015. Sharon James pens the biography of nineteenth-century missionary to Burma, Ann Judson. This account contains plenty of selections from Ann Judson’s memoir and letters and demonstrates that eternity is worth the sacrifice.
Newell and Easley. A Martyr’s Grace: Stories of Those Who Gave All for Christ and His Cause. Moody, 2006. What causes ordinary people to sacrifice their lives in various mission fields? Only Jesus Christ’s compelling love. These are stories about ordinary people and their good God.
Ohanian. Now, Can You Trust Me?: Stories of Faith and Adventure in Armenia. 2007. Nairy Ohanian tells winsome stories of her life as a missionary in Armenia, recounting the struggles and joys experienced in learning a new culture. For more information see: www.nairysstories.com.
Rockness. A Passion for the Impossible. 2003. Lilias Trotter was a single Victorian heiress with an incredible, internationally recognized talent for drawing and painting. She rejected the art scene, and instead spent the rest of her life in Northern Africa pointing to people to Jesus. Rockness has gained access to Trotter’s (well-illustrated) journals and has produced several other texts illuminated by her paintings and sketches.
These women span centuries, socio-economic strata, continents and vocational skills. But they all something in common: they lived to know Christ and to make Him known, and that is worth EVERYTHING!