When we think of Christian heroes, we mostly think of people who lived a hundred years ago. And while there is no shame in those, it’s important to remember the “modern” Christian heroes, and the fact that God can use anyone, not just missionaries, to make a difference with His plans.
Here are everyday people – a “ghetto” kid turned neurosurgeon, a surfer, a soon-to-be juvenile delinquent, and just average people like you and me. I hope you find this list inspiring and helpful!
1. Things We Couldn’t Say by Diet Eman
Many know of Corrie ten Boom’s courageous feats during WWII, but few know about Diet Eman. Diet was a young Dutch Christian, madly in love. However, she wasn’t about to sit down and watch the Nazis take over the Netherlands, or her Jewish friends. I love Diet – I have a strong feeling she and I would get along very well. She’s bold, courageous, and accomplished some incredible things.
2. Gifted Hands by Ben Carson
I would have to say this is one of my favorite memoirs on this list. Dr. Benjamin S. Carson. Growing up with a single mom in a poor home in Detroit, Ben Carson defied the odds and become the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins. Beautifully written, this is a fantastic story of faith and hard work.
3. In the Presence of my Enemies by Gracia Burnham
A little bit after 9/11, a young missionary couple was taken hostage by terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden. Throughout a whole year of torture and the loss of her beloved husband, Gracia Burnham remained strong and unmoved in her faith. I haven’t read this book yet, but my sister did and she loved it.
4. Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
I haven’t read this memoir by a missionary, but I’ve heard many good things about it. Darlene survived four years in a Japanese prison camp deep in the jungles of New Guinea – miraculously surviving against the odds.
5. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
Katie Davis was a regular young woman. She dreamed of nice things and had them. But her life changed for the better when God called her to go to Uganda. In Uganda, life was much different than life back in the United States. Homes were poorly built, the water was rarely safe to drink, but nothing compared to the orphaned children who roamed the streets. She discovered her reason for being there as she watched the poverty that surrounded her. In the end, Katie ended up adopting 13 young Ugandan girls who she takes care of and raises as her own. This is her courageous faith journey!
6. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
How could I forget Corrie’s beloved memoir? Corrie and her family were Christian watchmakers who courageously hid Jews in their small house for months until they were discovered by the Gestapo. Corrie, her sister Betsie, along with the rest of her family were sent to concentration camps. Unfortunately, Betsie died just months before Corrie and the rest of the camp was liberated.
7. Captive in Iran by Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh
This wasn’t my favorite book, but it is a very powerful memoir about two Christian women’s faith. Maryam and Marziyeh, two Christian friends living in Iran, were arrested for spreading the Gospel. They ended up in Evin, a very notorious prison where few get out alive. Through their unflinching faith, they survived 259 days there.
8. God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew
Dutch factory worker Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles behind the Iron Curtain – to Communist countries. After wounding his ankle in battle, Brother Andrew relentlessly read his Bible during rehab. He dedicated his life to telling others about Jesus in 1955 and did so throughout Communist Europe. After that, Brother Andrew still didn’t stop spreading the Gospel and began missioning in Lebanon.
9. Devil At My Heels by Louie Zamperini
Many know Zamperini from the fabulous best-seller Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Louie started out a juvenile delinquent, with everyone believing he would end up in prison. Fortunately, his older brother Pete urged him to pursue other things in life, and Louie began running. He ran himself to the 1936 Berlin (Nazi) Olympics, and even caught the attention of Adolf Hitler.
Upon coming home, he began training for the 1940 Olympics, but instead enlisted. Upon a rescue mission, he crashed into the Pacific Ocean – with 10 of his crew mates dead. He and a friend survived 47 days at sea with no food, no water, sharks, and Japanese bullets. Then, he survived 2 years as a Japanese POW in a notorious prison camp. And then finally he came back home, became an alcoholic, then dedicated his life to Christ and to helping others.
10. Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton
Bethany Hamilton was a great surfer. When she was 13, a 14-foot tiger shark bit her left arm off – and changed her life forever. Through much perseverance, faith, hope, and hard work, Bethany Hamilton began surfing again one month after the attack, and surfed her way to a national title. Since then, she’s become a widely-known figure, publishing this book, having a movie made out of her story, as well as appearing on The Amazing Race.
i love The Hidding Place and God’s Smuggler! Some of my favorite books of all time! Although not a memoir, I think pilgrims progress is a book ALL Christians need to read! That is my favorite book besides the Bible!
Jennifer Carty says
I also recommend “Miracle for Jen” It is the story of Jennifer Barrick and her family. Upon returning home from a church choir performance, the family’s vehicle was hit, head=on, by a drunk driver. Jennifer was in a coma and not expected to survive. That is just the beginning of this amazing story of God’s glory and power. If you are not moved by Jen’s beautiful spirit, you must be made of stone. I loved the story and I love to draw encouragement from the resilience of this remarkable family.
Allie Gray says
Hello! My name is Allie Gray and I will be teaching a Creative Nonfiction class at a Christian school this fall. I wanted to check and see if there was any language or anything inappropriate that you can remember in “The Devil at my Heels”? It sounds like a great read and I’d love to use it in my classroom.
Thanks so much.