5 Books to Read Before Your International Mission Trip

best books for mission trips

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).


This instruction from Jesus has provided the inspiration for thousands of missionaries over the centuries. Attending Catholic school from kindergarten through grad school provided me numerous opportunities to participate in mission trips to various locations around the world. With the accessibility of flights, now more than ever, it’s easy to travel the world in the name of Christ.

Preparing Your Heart and Mind for an International Mission Trip

Before you go on a mission trip, there’s lots of preparation required, both logistically and through prayer. One of the ways I love to prepare my heart and mind for the journey ahead is through books. Here are some of my favorites that I hope will help you as you prepare to travel!

Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors

Katie Davis Majors is the founder of Amazima Ministries. She lives full time and raises her family in Uganda. But before all of that, she was a high school student on a short term mission to Uganda from the United States. Daring to Hope is the second of her two novels (the first, Kisses from Katie is also amazing!) and shares stories from her day-to-day life in Uganda.

Katie shares about what it’s like to raise a family while striving every day to improve the quality of life in Uganda for the most vulnerable. Her stories are honest and heartbreaking, showing what it truly means to walk alongside one’s neighbor. Beyond her inspiring story, Katie has a deep and abiding love for God that motivates her in her work. She shares her faith freely with her readers. True to her title, this leaves all who read her story with an enduring sense of hope.

Before You Go: A Daily Devotional Guide by Jack Hempfling

This book was given to me by my best friend prior to my first mission trip to Jamaica, and I refuse to go on a trip without re-reading it. Using different Bible verses, Before You Go provides short daily devotions for the 40 days leading up to your trip. Each day hits on a different aspect of life during your short-term mission and wraps up with a prayer. There are also different prayer guides to help you through various aspects including praying for your team, fundraising, and more.

I highly recommend reading this book with friends or other members of your travel group. It is a great way to come together in prayer as well as share your hopes and fears for the trip ahead.

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch

I Will Always Write Back tells the story of two unlikely friends: Caitlin, a middle schooler in Pennsylvania, and Martin, a young student from Zimbabwe. Originally paired together as part of a pen-pal project, Caitlin and Martin develop a deep and lasting friendship through writing letters back and forth. Throughout the course of the novel, we get to read these letters and hear from both perspectives as they learn how similar they are in spite of growing up in dramatically different circumstances.

Caitlin goes on to become an advocate for Martin, and, with the help of her family, Martin, an incredibly gifted student, is able to come to college in the United States on a full-ride scholarship. Their story shows not only the power of connecting with others around the world, but the abiding love and true transformation that can come from those relationships.

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Helping without Hurting in Short Term Missions (Leader’s Guide) by Stephen Corbett and Brian Fikkert

If you are traveling on an international mission trip, I hope you have been surrounded by support from your church community, family, and friends. But sometimes people critique mission trips and your choice to go on one. Helping without Hurting in Short Term Missions is an essential read before you go, whether you are serving as a leader or even a participant on any team. It addresses many of the critiques of short-term missions.

Helping without Hurting explores not only the history of short-term missions, but the real modern-day ramifications of them. It takes a look at the religious motivation behind missionary travel and provides applicable tips to ensure you and your travel group are serving the community you are traveling to, and not causing long-term harm.

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain by Megan Boudreaux

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain, like Daring to Hope, shares the story of a young American missionary. Megan Boudreaux moved to Haiti alone at the age of 24, without any real plan for what she would do there. Building on a calling from God, she began learning the language and working with children, eventually exposing the crimes of those trying to sell children in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Megan continuously faces spiritual warfare, living and working in the shadow of Voodoo Mountain, so close she can hear the drums of Haitian voodoo ceremonies. Her faith is tireless as she works to expose all around her to God’s love and care by providing for their needs, primarily through education. Her book is an incredible lesson in compassion and a long term commitment to the place she serves.

What books would you recommend before serving on an international mission trip? Let us know in the comments below!

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Shelby Hennen is Catholic young professional who hails from the Midwestern metropolis of Kansas City, Missouri. She loves a good book, a good chat with a friend, and a good taco joint.

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1 Comment

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    December 3, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Please also do some reading over at No White Saviors’ instagram @nowhitesaviors. It’s good to hear perspectives from people who live in these places, not just from Americans.

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