I have kept you waiting to know what reading I would recommend. I hope the wait has not been too aggravating! In the meantime, maybe some of you decided to go searching for some good reading on your own. That would just the thing that I would hope for. But, if you are not yet motivated to read some good books on missions, then perhaps this list will tweak your interest. I will start with books I have read and highly recommend.
1. Wanted: World Christians, by J. Herbert Kane. Published by Baker. This book will challenge your priorities and place you on a different footing. This author brings to his pen many years of teaching missions and a long history of writing on and teaching on the subject of missions. You will not be left indifferent toward the work of world missions if you read this book.
2. Cities: Missions’ New Frontier, by Roger Greenway and Timothy Monsma. Published by Baker. If you live near or drive through a major city with any frequency, you cannot help but notice that the cities are almost entirely abandoned by the church. These authors write with urgency and poignancy that the evangelical church, the bible preaching church, the missionary minded church has overlooked the most fertile mission field around it: the inner cities of our United States. Read and be amazed at the mission field at your doorstep!
3. Serving as Senders, by Neal Pirolo. Published by Emmaus Road International. A veritable treasure of practical and personal recommendations for the person who would help a missionary reach his or her destination, this book dispels the myths of the “rugged, self-sufficient missionary” who can do it all himself. The author explains in clear terms that a missionary must have support, not only financial support, to reach the field. He or she must have a team of people supporting to get them there.
4. Everything You Want to know about the Mission Field, but are Afraid you Won’t Learn until you Get There, by Charles Troutman. Published by IVP. The subtitle of this book is “Letters to a Prospective Missionary.” That pretty well sums it up! Almost any question that you, or a new missionary might have, is answered with direct and practical wisdom in this readable and interesting book. A bit old (printed in 1977) it might only be available as a used book on Ebay or Amazon.
This should be enough to whet your appetite! I would be glad to make specific recommendations if you looking for a book on a particular aspect of missions. I have purposely avoided recommending any technical or deep theological titles and have focused more on the day to day issues of missions.
From what the simple poll shows, as much as 82% of the readers who responded have NOT read a book on missions or related to the topic in the past 1 to 6 months. It is not surprising then, that many believers in the churches we visited recently have little or no knowledge of the topic. That being the case, can we expect our churches to be more interested and more involved with missions? It is not very likely that the churches of the United States will see beyond their immediate need if 8 out of 10 Christians have practically no working knowledge of how God is carrying out His Great Commission!
The local church is faced with a need: How do we mobilize more missionaries when the developing world is breaking all previous records in sending and training new missionaries? The answer comes in part, by educating the local church Christian about the trends, the needs, the obstacles and the amazing advances that the Church is experiencing around the world. We cannot leave it up to chance or just “hope” that somehow our youth and young adults will find the matter of carrying out the Great Commission in our generation. As the saying goes, “quality starts at home.”
There remains the challenge to get youth to read, to investigate (not passively but with personal interest) the mission field trends that are shaping our world today. I propose that the reading circles of our Christian schools include missionary biographies (I will not take the time to list those that have impacted me, but there are many). I want to stir the minds and hearts of our youth leaders and youth pastors to include in their yearly Bible study plan the matter of missions trends and missionary life. I encourage our pastors and preachers to refer often to those titles and resources for missions (there are many outstanding web sites where you can find news, data and comments) that can help dispel the fear, the ignorance and the indifference toward the Cause of Christ.
Let us not leave the subject behind as though it were some dusty old tome buried in the stacks of books in the library. The missionary cause is being documented, it is being reported and it is being transmitted in a powerful way every day. Read and digest these truths. Meditate on and evaluate the work of God around His great big world. Let the facts and the reality of the need for thousands more missionaries be made known…before the great, black hole of secularism and postmodernism drowns out the light in the darkness.
Read about missions, and you will soon care (more) about missions. Ignore the matter, and it soon fades into our daily routine of busyness, of family life, of church calendars.
Last February it was my privilege to hear in person Gracia Burnham (co-author along with Dean Merrill) of the gripping book called “In the Presence of My Enemies” (Published by Tyndale). The true story of her being kidnapped, along with her husband, in the Philippine Islands, Gracia tells how she and her husband struggled with health and sanitary issues. How they were forced to flee gun fire. How they saw their fellow hostages suffer and even break under the extreme conditions. But the message that stands out even more powerfully in the book is the one she trumpeted so clearly when she spoke at the Global Ministries Conference of Baptist Bible College (Clarks Summit, PA). And that message was that the hardest lesson to learn was that the enemy was not the ones toting the guns and the belts of ammunition. The enemy was the doubt, the fear and the questioning of God that she, and others, carried in their hearts. God wanted to teach them how to overcome their biggest enemy, and that enemy was inside.
Missions stories like that of the Burnhams will uncover the fundamental struggles of the Christian’s life. For that reason, and a host of others, it is worthwhile reading to dig into missions texts and biographies.
Let me encourage you to make it a point to read more and to read broadly in the area of missions! You will be glad you did. Your church will be glad you did. And for sure, when a missionary comes back to visit your church, she or he will be truly encouraged when they hear of what you are learning about missions in today’s world.
David L. Rogers, M.A. Min.