I’m a lover of Christian biographies. The stories of men and women of God who boldly and unashamedly lived a life of sacrifice for the glory of God are truly inspirational. These stories make me self-analyze and ask myself “What have I done for the kingdom of God?” Biographies are powerful, they are convicting. The message is always the same one: God can use ANYONE, more often than not, the ones people would least expect. Yet, others recount their encounters with the Holy Spirit weaving their beautiful conversion testimonies.
There are a plethora of famous Christian autobiographies, however, this is a list of 10 biographies that I have personally read and would recommend to all Christians.
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1. The Cross and the Switchblade
This one has to be my favorite of them all and a Christian classic. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it!
Written by the late Pastor David Wilkerson. The Cross and the Switchblade tells his story of how God instilled in his heart the love and sorrow for the gangs of New York City. Set in the 50s and 60s, David Wilkerson, recounts how after reading a murder trial article in the Times magazine, left his small church in Pennsylvania, moved to NYC and opened a non-profit organization for drug-addicted teens known as Teen Challenge. Pastor Wilkerson’s ministry in NYC turned the city upside down through a spiritual revival of teens involved in drugs and gangs. In his powerful testimony, we read about the manifestation of God through a man who simply obeyed and because of his obedience many were saved.
2. God’s Smuggler
God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew is another of my favorites. This one is sure to uplift your faith, at least I know it definitely uplifted mine.
Brother Andrew, a Dutch by birth, recounts his life story from growing up to his military days, becoming saved and his work across the Iron Curtain. Set in communist Europe in the 50s-70s, Brother Andrew tells his story, smuggling Bibles across the Iron Curtain, planting churches, and working with Christians in communist countries. The bulk of the story is centered in his work smuggling Bibles to countries where Christianity was illegal or controlled. Not once was he caught, even after many close calls…there’s only one way to describe this testament of faith: God is faithful. His work in the underground led him to found Open Doors, an organization for persecuted Christians. This book had me crying in some parts and rejoicing in others.
3. Tortured for Christ
You have probably heard of this one if you haven’t read it. It is a classic which every Christian should read.
Written by Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, he tells of his horrible experience in prison for 14 years in communist Romania. As a Lutheran pastor living in the Iron Curtain, he ran huge risks shepherding an underground church. Rev. Wurmbrand was caught, imprisoned, tortured, and thrown in solitary confinement. This is a story of miraculous survival, faith, and sacrifice. Some scenes described are a little graphic, which detail the horrors Rev. Wurmbrand experienced, as a testament that there is no darkness too dark that God cannot light up. This is the testimony of a true hero of the faith. As a result of his years of torture, Wurmbrand was led to found Voice of the Martyrs, an organization working to bring relief to persecuted Christians around the world.
*Coming in 2018: a docudrama based on this book!
4. Evidence Not Seen
Though I haven’t read many missionary biographies, this one was heart piercing. I learned about Darlene’s testimony through a podcast online and then ran to the bookstore to purchase her book. I don’t cry much when reading or watching movies, but this one had me tearing up.
Darlene Deibler recounts her true story as a missionary in New Guinea during WWII. The Japanese troops landed on the islands when Darlene and her husband were serving there as missionaries. Taken as prisoners of war, Darlene tells her story of faith and courage; the unmistakable protection of the God whom they served. Darlene’s unfaltering faith mixed with her beautiful way of writing will twist your heart and inspire you to live boldly for Christ.
5. The Hiding Place
This is yet another Christian classic which I’m sure many if not, most Christians have read or at the least, heard about.
Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker from Amsterdam who, as a spinster lived with her aging father and older sister. Having grown up in the generations old family watch business, Corrie’s family was well known throughout Holland. Her biography recounts some of her childhood memories but center around her family’s involvement in hiding Jews during WWII. Unfortunately, her family was caught, sent to prison first and then into labor camps. Through the terrible conditions she lived through, Corrie came to understand the greatness and faithfulness of the God she served.
6. A Chance to Die
Perhaps one of the greatest missionaries of the 19th century is Amy Carmichael. In A Chance to Die, retold by Elisabeth Elliot, we learn about Amy’s early years in Ireland to her calling as a missionary and her work in India. Amy Carmichael, a servant of God who never married, helped many Indian girls escape from terrible conditions: forced prostitution and poverty. She opened an orphanage and a mission in Dohnavour, staying in India for 55 years without a furlough. Spreading the love of Christ to these girls and everyone who came across her. She wrote many books about mission work in India. Her life is an example of godly love and dedication to God’s work. I highly recommend this biography!
7. Through Gates of Splendor
Another story of sacrificial living! This book is also well-known amongst Christians and more so on account of the film based on it. But if you haven’t read it here’s why you should:
Elisabeth Elliot along with her husband, Jim Elliot and 4 other young American couples, ventured to the jungles of Equador to reach the natives for Christ. Known as Operation Acca, these missionaries set out to take the Good News to the Huaoroni tribe. Their story was to become international news when all 5 husbands, including Jim, were speared to death by the natives. This is a story of enduring love to God and people. The women decided to stay and continue the work they had set out to do. Demonstrating God’s love for the natives and eventually leading them to Christ. This is an absolute must-read for all Christians!
8. I Dared to Call Him Father
This is one of many testimonies of Muslims coming to Christ. A definite read for Christians, Muslims and everyone alike!
Bilquis, was a prominent Persian woman living in Pakistan, known by everyone in her city. A devout Muslim women, Bilquis came to know Christ through a series of visions and revelations. Running a great risk to her life, Bilquis became a Christian missionary, not only speaking to other Muslims about Christ but running Christian meetings in her house. This is the remarkable true story of a woman meeting her God, forsaking everything to follow Him.
9. Nine Days in Heaven
A recommended biography for those who wonder what happens to aborted babies, heaven, and doubts about God.
In 1848, Marietta Davis was a 25-year-old woman from New York who during a nine-day coma, had an amazing vision of heaven and hell. For nine days, Jesus took her on a journey to heaven and hell, where she saw what happens to aborted babies, angels, demons, the torment of the lost souls, and much more. Everything in Marietta’s testimony lines perfectly with Scripture. It’s interesting to note that Marietta was not saved at the time of her vision, rendering this important story as valid. I highly recommend this book for those who are hungry to know more about the spiritual world and skeptics.
*This an updated publication in the modern English language. The original book was published in the 19th century & was a widely read book.
10. Total Abandon
I found this book whilst roaming the Christian section in my local library. And I’m glad I did for it’s a powerful story! It’s a story of loss and triumph and a testament to God’s faithfulness.
Told from Gary Witherall’s point of view, he recounts a little about his upbringing in England, his work for Operation Mobilization and his marriage to his wife Bonnie. The English-American couple felt God’s calling to move to Sidon, Lebanon as missionaries in the early 2000s. Bonnie worked as a volunteer in a clinic for pregnant women, where she shined with God’s love for the people. They served on a mission and fellowshipped with local Christians. Gary tells about his sorrow and his healing after Bonnie was murdered by radical Muslims. Her martyrdom was published on the international news, a reminder of the dangers of the middle east conflict. In Gary’s powerful testimony we are reminded that those devoted to God have a place much better than this one waiting for them. This book will challenge you to live a life of total abandon, even if that life leads you to give up your life for your faith.
So there you have it, my top 10 biographies every Christian must read. I hope you enjoyed this list. What are some of your favorite biographies? Comment below! And stay updated by subscribing to the newsletter below to receive emails when a new post is up! Stay tuned for part 2 of this list.
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