Since I was little I've loved reading science fiction and fantasy stories. I even dabbled in writing some. Since then, I've discovered a whole realm of sci-fi and fantasy written by Christian authors and I love it. I've even begun writing my own stories again. But there's a new kid on the block in my library.
I just finished Beyond the Shadow by Ellie Hein in which she details the adventures, hardships, atrocities, and victories she and her family experienced as missionaries to Mozambique starting in the mid 1980s. I was riveted to the pages when I was awake and not driving. I just could not put it down! I read about mosquitoes and militants, droughts and floods, war and famine, faith and victory, and real, honest-to-God people who gave of themselves to help and share the Gospel with others. It reminded me that a life with God is never boring, seldom certain, and often fraught with danger, but always 100% worth it, no matter the cost. I would love to meet the Hein family some day, but to be honest, having read Beyond the Shadow, I feel like I already know them.
Another book in this genre that I've read several times is Brother Andrew's God's Smuggler. It's a near autobiography or memoir of his life: from a poor Dutch boy who pulled pranks on occupying Nazis to the young, inexperienced missionary who only knew how to trust God. The second half of the book chronicles Andrew's efforts to put the Bible into the hands of Christians who lived behind the Iron Curtain. He started hiding them in his car, but God eventually had him taking so many Bibles across borders that he ran out of hiding places. He just had to trust God to either bring a friendly guard or blind the eyes of an unfriendly one. He succeeded at this many times, in many countries, with Bibles in many languages. When the Iron Curtain fell, he moved his ministry to Red China. He devoted his life to a truly worthy cause. And I got to read about it.
Besides the Bible, I've never enjoyed writing personal notes in books. It seemed almost like graffiti on a piece of art. However, I have copious notes in both the books I've mentioned. My walk with God is elevated each time I read one of these missionary logs and I can't help but jot down a note for next time. The common element in these books is the descriptions of faith used to get through situations and God's marvelous provision or miraculous power showing up at just the right moment in just the right way to make things work out for the best. This way, no one but God gets the credit and the glory. Reading one of these true stories is almost like reading one of many sequels to the Book of Acts: real people, real mission, real faith, and a real God bringing real success. Real. Good. Reads.