The Unfundamental Conversion

My Childhood Readings: Missionary Stories

March 20th, 2013 | Posted by Lana Hope in Homeschool

I am doing a mini-series on my childhood readings. I already wrote about Elsie Dinsmore. Today I will discuss missionary and evangelist stories.

House in the rice fields

Missionary stories occupied most of my childhood and was integrated into our fundamentalist curriculum and literature. George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, and Adoniram Judson are to fundamentalism what saints represent to the Catholic church.

As apart of our ATI wisdom booklets, we studied a different evangelist or missionary each month, and always read at least one biography. These books filled my mind with wonder. When I was eight, we studied Adoniram Judson. I cried over the death of his wives, and fell in love with Burma. The story of the people and the Burmese life made my heart melt, and I promised myself that someday I would travel there.  In some ways, I still can’t believe that I made it – that I visited the Karen villages and stood under Burmese signs and made friends from Burma. Sarah Judson is still my hero; I don’t care if I have left fundamentalism, and no longer agree with Sarah Judson on theology. By dang it, she stayed on the missions field even after her husband died in a day and age where her missions organization forbid her from staying. That woman had courage.

These stories implanted in me a desire to go far and see more. My world was so small as a kid, and it was inside the pages of biographies like Hudson Taylor that made me realize that some day I could travel the world. These people also gave me purpose and joy. Because some of these missionaries came from rough lives — and God still used them. And Lotty Moon was a woman and dingy, and she still went far.

Women missionaries taught me that women can travel too. They were my first feminist heroes.

These women were the people I could throw at the fundamentalists face and say, “I want to be Amy Carmichael,” ” If I had said Vanna White or Joyce Meyer, the answer would have undoubtedly been “no way.” But Amy Carmichael — the fundamentalist had no argument!


The advantage, of course, is that these stories in essence replaced regular literature, and enforced sheltering me from “worldly” programs. We were allowed to read other books, of course, but those were not apart of our normal school day or literature program. I had ADD, and so generally chose to spend the rest of my day outdoors and rarely read. In my teen years, I cultivated a desire to read and study, but I still chose to read non fiction – theory and theology – rather than classics or even regular fiction. So I had a reading gap in my education that most of my homeschool peers do not.

More on that later.

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  • Christine

    It’s somewhat ironic that the fundamentalist-approved missionary literature is what sparked your desire to go overseas – I get the impression from reading your blog that that was a factor in how your faith changed.

    • Lana

      IKR? It got me there, and then turned my entire life upside down. Good point.

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  • Well, you have a whole world of wonder to discover. I hope you enjoy classic literature as much as I do. Perhaps even poetry, which is unjustly neglected…

    • Lana

      oooooh, I love poetry. I wrote my honors thesis on William Blake. I majored in English, ironically, but the only parts I liked were poetry and critical theory of literature. Still not a big fiction fan. I enjoy watching plays.

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  • C.A.

    I read lots of missionary biographies. I read those of Seventh-day Adventists most of the time. I do remember George Mueller, yet there are so many I didn’t know of because I was in the SDA bubble. I do agree, it made me want to know about the world. I became a SDA missionary. I finally started questioning SDA after a few years in Korea. I know it opened my eyes to a lot.

    • Lana

      wow, cool. Travel does make you question things.

  • I did read a lot of those! My parents were with YWAM and constantly getting new missionary stories 🙂

    • Though I now disagree with her take on women, I did like Elizabeth Elliot and thought it was gutsy to go live in the jungle with the tribe that killed her husband!

      • Lana Hope

        Me too. Omg, me too. She went back in the jungle. Makes me do happy.


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