I really cannot encourage you enough to take some time to read some books that will encourage your faith. And I’m not just talking about the self-help type books, the instructional ones, although those can be wonderful. But when was the last time you read a missionary biography? In them, you get a couple things…you get an amazing example of what is possible for a man or woman who gives their life to Jesus. You see the faithfulness of God and how much He can be trusted. You also get some good teaching (usually) about spiritual matters.
So, that being said, have you read about Gladys Aylward? There are numerous book about her life, and I can’t speak to which is best, as I’ve only read one, so far, but her life was AMAZING. Truly.
There was also an Ingrid Bergman movie that follows the book I read fairly closely, although all you readers out there will understand that having seen the movie I still wanted to read the book…and am glad I did. And may read another or two. The movie is on Netflix, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.
The particular book I read is part of a series: Christian heroes: Then and Now by Janet and Geoff Benge (formerly with YWAM). The books are written for youth, and while not in the category of Unbroken in terms of quality of biography, still worth the read (with the added benefit of appealing to a variety of ages and being a book you can read in a matter of hours).
The next one I will probably try to read about her life is one that credits her as co-author…so it should be authentic! Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman.
Another, more modern, missionary you may not have heard of, Kim Abernethy. I have no idea how I stumbled on her books…like a recommendation from Amazon, one of those “people who read this also read…” suggestions.
Her first book, In This Place, details her family’s journey to Liberia as missionaries. It’s a little bit like a mommy blog—very real, every day stuff, except they’ve done a very surreal, unordinary thing of moving to another country and culture to be missionaries. And then, war breaks out in Liberia and they have to evacuate in an instant.
Her second story was actually my favorite of the two, but I think it was more impactful having read the first one and having the background. In it, she talks about her very real struggles with dealing from the trauma of having to leave Liberia behind like they did, with being fearful about returning the mission field, with rebellious teenagers, with entering into another very dangerous and trying mission field, with God moving them to a variety of places when they had dreamed of being forever with one people group, with being a very human woman, wife and mother…and yet having an extraordinary God who can use anyone at any time. This one had me crying…several times.
Whereas Gladys seemed amazing to me, Kim seemed very normal, and I think that was her aim—to show the reality and the humanity of missionaries. It was actually helpful to read both back to back, as in both I saw God’s ability to do extraordinary things…and to see that the extraordinary came wrapped in a variety of forms and packages – some amazing, some mundane. Gladys was extraordinary strong and driven and passionate. She had a singular calling to the Chinese, and she accomplished huge, extraordinary things. Kim was perhaps not as singular. She loved the Liberians, but also her husband and children…she wasn’t wholly devoted to the African peoples, because she was first devoted to her family. She shares her struggles with this, watching her husband go off to do the mission work she longed to do, too…while she took care of their home. She shares her struggles with this, but she also shares how God uses it, to refine her, to minister to her family, and to even further the work of the Kingdom in Liberia. She finds her own niche, uniquely hers because of her role at home.
Such different women, but both sold out to Jesus…different in their earthly focus, but equally singular and devoted to their heavenly Father. And how good it was to read what Jesus could do through two such different women when they were only available to Him. There is great hope for what God might do through any of us, in your place, in my place, in any and every place.