4 Non-Fiction Books to Read Before a Missions Trip

Have you ever considered going on a missions trip? The opportunity to travel for missions usually presents itself to Christin youth sooner or later. Sometimes it involves a flight that crosses continents. Sometimes it’s a road trip to a location in your own country. Often there are a lot of questions you ask yourself before making a commitment to a missions trip. What can I really do? I’m not an evangelist, how am I supposed to tell strangers about God? I’ve lived a sheltered life and don’t even understand the issues a missions trip might address. Will my participation really help?

4 Missions Trips Books

Over the past few months, we’ve been looking a lot at the power of fiction and the lessons tucked inside of stories. Non-fiction has it’s place too, though! When we have specific questions about a specific situations, it’s easier to find the information you want in a non-fiction book.

I just got back from my second missions trip. My brother and I spent a week serving as camp counselors in Canada. It wasn’t something I expected to do, but God nudged everything into place and off we went. In light of that experience, here are a few books that have informed and encouraged me about missions trips and serving God.


What Can I Really Do?

The problems of the world can feel really overwhelming. That’s okay. Going on a missions trip isn’t a commitment to solve problems and save the world. It is a commitment to step outside your comfort zone and follow God beyond the bounds of your normal life.

As a young teenager, Do Hard Things encouraged me to take risks by stepping outside of my comfort zones. For me, that meant taking responsibility for playing the piano at church. Learning to step out at God’s prompting, even when it’s not comfortable, is a powerful lesson.

Do Hard Things is a book that will help you prepare for a missions trip by changing your question of, “What can I really do?” to a realization that you can do anything God expects of you. Rebel against low expectations and fearlessly trust God to help you fulfil His expectations.

I’m not an evangelist, how am I supposed to tell strangers about God?

When people discuss spiritual gifts, very few claim to have the gift of evangelism, yet–in theory–the root reason for missions trips is to share the gospel. The good news is, you don’t have to be an evangelist to speak the Good News.

Will Our Generation Speak? offers encouragement and practical advice to the quaking heart. It’s a great book to read before a missions trip because it makes evangelism accessible to every Christian–especially young ones.

I’ve lived a sheltered life and don’t even understand the issues a missions trip might address.

This question is the one I struggle with the most. Because my life has been sheltered from a lot of the awful things in the world, I worry that the people I try to help will think I’m not able to connect with them because we don’t share difficult life experiences. Lately God’s been teaching me to trust Him and his plan for my life. After all, if my life was identical to the people I hope to help, I wouldn’t be in a position to help them!

Being informed is an important aspect of missions preparation. It equips you to help and might ease the shock of confronting things you’ve never had to before.

Orphan Justice isn’t just a book about orphans. It deftly covers many of the major social justice issues that leave children and their caregivers vulnerable. The associated website also offers some great ideas on how to help with each of the topics discussed in the book.

Will my participation really help?

Christian culture often sets missions trips on a pedestal. They’re exciting opportunities to travel, gain life experience, serve God, help people, and get warm fuzzies all at the same time. While each of those can be true, they’re not always.

When Helping Hurts is a challenging book, especially if you have missions trips on a pedestal and want to change the world by cuddling babies for a week. The first time I tried to read this book, I couldn’t finish it because of how much it challenged my existing perception of short-term missions. However, the information it contains is crucial if you really want to know, “will my participation help.

When Helping Hurts will prepare you for a missions trip by equipping you to make wise choices about when to go and when to stay by helping you to understand what helps the people you want to serve and what hurts them.

Have you been on missions trips? What was the hardest thing about making the decision to go? What were the joys and trials of the trip? What advice would you offer to other’s considering going on a missions trip? What books do you recommed?

6 Replies to “4 Non-Fiction Books to Read Before a Missions Trip”

  1. Hi Leah!  Enjoyed my “missions trip” today to Wallingford.  Glad to see you & Jon and happy you both are just about over the flu and that God is watching closely over your grandfather. The books you read prior to Canada sounded very helpful and encouraging.  My trip to your home raised many questions–some were answered and some are left for another time. Know your God=respecting family will work everything out in a good way, with His peace among you.  Thanks for the e-mail. Love. Aunt Sharon

  2. Cool! I’ll look into these books if I ever go on a missions trip. One thing, though: The title of your post says that there are five books to read… but you only did four. Just thought that you might want to know!

  3. Hey Leah! I just got back from my first trip. The team went to an orphanage in India and the team leader had us read Before You Go, which is a 40 day devotional for short team missionaries. I found it very helpful in preparing to serve.

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