Years ago God gave me the opportunity to purchase second-hand missionary biographies very inexpensively. We had a wonderful used book store in our city run by two retired sisters who had formerly served as missionaries in Africa. Their burden was to get good resources into the hands of local pastors. News spread, books were donated, and many, including my husband and I, were blessed and helped in ministry because of these dear ladies.
As a child I ransacked our church library and read as many missionary books as possible. I loved reading about people from all walks of life, with all kinds of personalities, and many different skills and hindrances whom the Lord used to spread the gospel across the world.
When I learned that the used bookstore carried not only commentaries, but also biographies, I was thrilled. Initially when I visited the bookstore I would stand and stare at the hundreds of missionary titles and wonder how to separate what was good from what was fluff. A dear missionary mentor, Bettie Dreisbach, helped guide me in my selections. She told me that reading missionary books was like mining for precious gems; sometimes you would come away with a gem or two, but sometimes you would glean a whole vault of gems from these books.
My husband and I had family devotions with our five children and would often read missionary stories in conjunction with Bible reading. My husband would stop mid sentence at an exciting part or give a dramatic pause and finish with a cliff hanger so the kids would squirm in their seats and beg him to read more. We discovered some good biographies written for youth, but not many written for preschoolers and very young readers, and so we compromised and edited as we read to keep our children’s attention.
Missionary stories for toddlers
A couple of years ago I was challenged by some friends, young couples with small children, to use my missionary books as references to write missionary stories for young children. Tomorrow will be the first in what I hope will be a long series of stories written with my grandchildren and other toddlers in mind. If you use these in family devotions or to teach your children, please pass on any feedback so that I can improve and refine the process as I write.