Booking Through Thursday: Life-Changing Books

btt  button Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme centering on the subject of books which poses a question or a thought for participants to discuss. The question for this week is:

I’ve seen this question floating around the blogosphere a few times the last couple of days, so thought I’d pass it forward.

Which Book Changed Your Life?

The first answer would be, of course, the Bible, and not just as a platitude. There is no more life-changing book than the Bible, and it continues to change my life with each reading. But I am going to address books just after the Bible in their impact on me.

I can’t name just one, but there were a few I read around the same time, and they all happened to be missionary biographies. The first was Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot, the true account of five men who wanted to try to reach a fierce and feared tribe of Indians and who, in turn, were speared to death by them. Later Elisabeth, the widow of one of the men, her young daughter, and Rachel Saint, the sister of another, were invited to go and live with this tribe — and they went and evetually the Lord used them to reach this tribe with the gospel of Christ, which, among other things, resulted in a cessation of the centuries-old revenge killings that had decimated the tribe. The book was not just a thrilling story: what changed me was the level of devotion of these men and their wives.

A lot of people in my college at the time were reading this book and then Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot and The Journals of Jim Elliot.  Not long after that I also read Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret and Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur. All of these had a life-changing impact on me.

Missionaries would not want people to believe they are some class of super-saint. I’ve worked with enough missionaries through church ministries to know that they’re very dear people but also very ordinary people, who experience the same joys and frustrations of anyone else. And yet, in a sense, they are on another level than many of us — of obedience, of stepping out in faith, of perseverance through trials, of dedication and devotion. It’s not not they are in a different class, but that we are all supposed to walk on that level, no matter what we’re called to. And thus, more than what the Lord accomplished through them, more than their stories, their walk with God inspired and impacted my own.

Reading these books during my college days inspired a life-long love of missionary biographies, and many of the 98 books that enriched my life were missionary biographies.

I missed last week’s question because it was posted late, and by the time it came up I already had two posts scheduled for Friday, but it asked, “If you could be a character from any book, who would you be? And why?” I almost would say Laura Ingalls Wilder, but as much as I love the Little House series, I don’t think I really want to live in that time. I think I’d choose Anne Shirley of Green Gables, to see the world through her eyes, to see wonder in everything.

5 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Life-Changing Books

  1. When you read the Acts of The Apostles in the Bible, you can read of the accounts of the missionaries in the first century. And of course the greatest missionary of all was Christ Jesus, himself. Not only was he a great missionary, but he trained his disciples to be missionaries as well. In the conclusion of the book of Matthew, Jesus encouraged all to go out and teach and preach. At Matthew 28:19,20, he left this command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” Therefore, no matter who we are, whether missionaries, or otherwise, we are all suppose to be teachers of the Bible and the Good News it holds out for each and everyone of us.

  2. Which book changed your life?

    I would have to say the Harry Potter and Twilight series because they sparked so many conversations with people I know well and people I just met. It’s also fun talking with people about the different aspects between the books and the movies.

  3. No doubt, Through Gates of Splendor will go down in history as one of the most powerful books in Christian missionary history.

    My life was changed after reading a biography of George Mueller when I was in high school.

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