Our Must-Read Missionary Biographies

Ten missionary biographies you don't want to miss if you're passionate about missions


Take time to look back on how God has always worked in and through people. Those He took out of their home culture and sent to a far off and unknown place have a special place in our hearts. Missionary biographies are an easy way to peer into the lives of those who came before us.

Here are 10 missionary biographies everyone should read.

1. Peace Child, by Don Richardson

This delves deeper into bringing the gospel into a culture that is not your own. How do you remain true to God’s Word while connecting with the people in that culture?

Bonus: Lords of the Earth, also by Don Richardson, is the story of Stan Dale and his companions who reached out to a Stone Age tribe in Irian Jaya.

Peace Child cover

2. Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, by Dr. Howard and Geraldine Taylor

This not only gives an overview of Taylor’s work in the interior of China but also digs deeper into his life and relationship with Christ.

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret

3. Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman, by Gladys Aylward

This autobiography gives us the amazing story of Gladys Aylward. People told her she was unqualified and ill-equipped. She boldly blazed her own path to serve God in China anyway.

Bonus: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is a 1958 Hollywood movie based on this story. It would be a good follow up after reading the autobiography.

4. Bruchko: The Astonishing True Story of a 19-Year-Old American, His Capture by the Motilone Indians and His Adventures in Christianizing the Stone Age Tribe, by Bruce Olson

This autobiography is full of nail-biting stories about a teenage boy who was willing to risk it all to reach a South American tribe. Many have been inspired by his story!

Bruchko - cover

5. Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testimony of Jim Elliot, by Elisabeth Elliot

Many know the story of Jim Elliot and his four colleagues who were martyred, but this account of his life by his wife Elisabeth gives us a glimpse into his journals and the motivation to give his own life for the sake of Christ.

Bonus: These Strange Ashes by Elisabeth Elliot. Many don’t know that Elisabeth went back and reached the same people who killed her husband. This book recounts her experiences returning.

BONUS Bonus: End of the Spear—a 2005 movie that shares the story of one of the missionary’s sons and his friendship with the men who killed his father.

6. Eric Lidell: Pure Gold, by David McCasland

Many know Eric Liddell as the Olympic runner from Chariots of Fire. Most don’t know that he actually gave all of that up to serve God in China!

Bonus: Chariots of Fire—With one of the most iconic opening scenes of all time!

Eric Liddell Pure Gold - cover

7. A Chance to Die: The Life and Death of Amy Carmichael, by Elisabeth Elliot

Another engrossing work by Elisabeth Elliot, this one showcasing the life of Amy Carmichael, a missionary to South India for 53 years straight!

A Chance to Die - cover

8. The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun, by Paul Hattaway

A harrowing story of the life of Brother Yun who endured much at the hands of Communist leaders in China. He remained faithful to his Almighty God. This bestseller has also been made into a graphic novel.

The Heavenly Man - cover

9. The Cross and the Switchblade, by David Wilkerson

An autobiography of a man and his family who fell in love with teenagers caught up in gang violence in New York City. God used them in powerful ways to help reshape their lives.

Bonus: a movie of the same title came out in 1970.

The Cross and the Switchblade

10. And the Word Came With Power, by Joanne Shetler

An autobiography of a woman who spent 20 years with a small tribe in the jungles of the Philippines. She learned the language, translated the Bible, and understood the spirits that held them in bondage.

And the Word Came with Power - cover

Can’t Get Enough?

Here are some other people to read about.

  • Brother Andrew, who smuggled Bibles behind Communist lines
  • David Brainerd, a missionary to Native American tribes
  • Lilias Trotter, who served in North Africa
  • William Borden, who gave up much to go
  • Samuel Zwemer, who is called the “apostle to Islam”
  • Cameron Townsend, pioneer of Bible translation
  • C.T. Studd, who left cricket fame to share the Good News
  • Helen Roseveare, a missionary doctor to the Congo
  • Adoniram Judson, one of the first American missionaries

Find books about these and many others in the series Christian Heroes, Then and Now.

You might also like one of these articles: