Many missionary-to-be (though certainly not all) tend to be adventurous, excited by the prospect of living abroad, enthusiastic about immersing in a different culture. However, if truth be told, living a missionary life isn’t all that. Missions can be bleak and depressing. Witnessing the poverty and hunger of nations can surprise first-time missionaries. There are books written by people who spent years in ministry overseas, gladly sharing the hard pressing truth of living a life as a missionary. Check out this insightful book before you go on your international mission trip. 

Foreign to Familiar by Sarah A. Lanier

Former missionary Sarah A. Lanier brings a splendidly written work on the culture of different nations. Foreign to Familiar is a valuable resource for first-time missionaries. This must-read imparts an excellent comparison to what Western missionaries are used to in their home countries and what they might face in another nation. Lanier’s storytelling develops a greater appreciation for families created worldwide through mission trips, increasing the desire for a better world. Eventually, the book explores differences in identity, communication, privacy, planning, and more. This 128 pages book may be a quick read, but it provides invaluable information about mission work. 

On Being a Missionary by Thomas Hale

Thomas Hale’s On Being a Missionary is the landmark book on missions. This exciting and fascinating chronicle of his time in Nepal on everything from calling to raising a missionary family to cross-cultural communication will motivate readers to go on a mission of their own. Now revised, On Being a Missionary offers perspectives on the realities of changing missionary force and the challenges of bonding with new culture. Every missionary can benefit from reading this before leaving for the field, and every Christian should read and re-read this regularly. Hale’s wisdom offers missionary-to-be and first-time missionaries the much-needed advice on the act of servitude. 

The Face of Hunger by Dr. Byron Conner

Dr. Byron Conner presents a compelling narrative of the devastating international humanitarian crisis in the 80s. The Face of Hunger is a gripping and very personal account of Dr. Conner’s mission for Ethiopia. It exemplifies how a calling can instigate a lifelong mission to help others. On top of this, Dr. Conner chronicles what a missionary may face when answering their calling. The Face of Hunger also explores not only the unexpected challenges but also internal conflicts upon the gruesome truth of missionary trips. This refreshing view of how a mission can change a group of people’s lives will arouse outpouring devotion.   

Subversive Jesus by Craig Greenfield

Subversive Jesus has been stirring hearts and minds and making missionaries feel good. This one is a story of a family’s experiment in incorporating counter-culture teachings of Christ in living. It seems that this work is a must-read for missionaries who’ll get to immerse themselves in the upside-down nature of the kingdom of God. Craig Greenfield’s book contains hard-learned lessons of life on the margins. These principles are interwoven with a compelling story of his years living among the poor in the Cambodian slums and Canadian inner city. Subversive Jesus provokes reflection of one’s true goal in mission trips. Through this book, Christian missionaries will convert from wasted evangelism to the true ways of missions. 

The Great Chasm by Derek Engdahl

Derek Engdahl invites first-time missionaries to walk with him through this insightful work. The Great Chasm is a personal account of a man who has invested himself in missionary work. He marvels in his great awakening of the real world as he immersed himself with poor communities, understanding their day-to-day struggles. Engdahl doesn’t voice opinions nor unfounded solutions; instead, he imposed a vision, language, and intellectual energy so uniquely spectacular. Each passage brings about reflection, weighty content that marinates in the minds and hearts of readers. The Great Chasm portrays the reality of living a life of service, faith, and sacrifice.