Years ago I heard someone recommend reading missionary biographies as a way to bolster one’s own faith. Why? Reading about someone else’s journey with God, particularly one who’s especially committed to God, brings inspiration and its own kind of objectivity about who God is and how he works. The reading creates reflection-space in one’s own heart. (I wrote about it once here.) Believing’s made easier when one sees the fruit of another’s believing. And for me - I’m a word girl. Words often rouse my heart and inflame my passions; they’re soul-cultivators.
I gave it a try: over the past five years I’ve read probably twenty missionary biographies. So now I can confirm the advice: it’s a practice very much worth doing. It works.
Sometimes it happens that when I read the biography, I feel like I’m walking with the missionary through the hills and valleys of her life. I can almost feel her struggles as if they were my own, and I take her encouragements and victories on too. I experience camaraderie and warmth coming to me, almost live, off the pages. It’s like the fellowship within the “great cloud of witnesses” (and this is why the Catholic understanding of saints at times feels so powerful to me.) When I’m in such books, I slow down my reading near the end. I don’t want to get to the last page, don’t want to have to stop “walking with” this person, who has become a friend and a mentor.Read More