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A Reading List to Get Started in Health Care Missions A Reading List to Get Started in Health Care Missions
January 17, 2011

The writer of Ecclesiastes is often quoted by students, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” At times, I must agree that, in this information age, the number of books and greatly exceeds my ability to read them. As health professionals, we are “doers” and the little time we have for reading is often dedicated to keeping up with current best medical practices. I’m always grateful for book suggestions from colleagues who share my passions and stimulate me to reflect on my walk with God and the vocation He has given me. Here is a list of five books that have influenced my life and practice as a missionary nurse and educator for your consideration.

Walking with the Poor by Bryant Myers
My first reading of this book put words and explanations to so many of the thoughts, feelings, and observations that I have had during my tenure in community health development work. Development work is done well by many humanitarian organizations and we can learn many things from them. However, this book presents a uniquely Christian perspective on development that acknowledges God’s involvement with the development process that includes transformation of individuals and communities. This is foundational reading for anyone considering or involved in Christian health development.

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
This recent publication distinguishes between relief and development. More importantly, it looks at relief and development practices that both help and hinder people and communities. Citing many personal lessons learned in a winsome way, this book describes failed strategies commonly in practice and gives suggestions for improving the way we help others. It is a must read for people embarking on ministries designed to help others.

Ministering Cross Culturally by Sherwood Lingenfelter and Marvin Mayers
The authors identify areas of tension that are commonly experienced in cross cultural contexts and provide a Biblical perspective on these tensions. They include a questionnaire that provides a personal profile that will assist the reader to identify areas where they might experience tension when ministering in cross-cultural settings. This is a great primer for anyone who is planning to move into a different culture.

Health, the Bible, and the Church by Dan Fountain
This Billy Graham Center monograph is based on the life long work of Dr. Dan Fountain, missionary physician who spent over 30 years in the Congo. It is a classic that brings together a biblical understanding of health and the role of the Church in caring for the physical and spiritual needs of people. It continues to challenge health professionals and church leaders toward the integrated ministry presented in the Bible.

Cross Cultural Connections by Duane Elmer
Before I left for the mission field, my sending organization sent me to Missionary Internship for a pre-field orientation course. It was the best money that was ever spent as I often referred back to the lessons that I learned there. I was delighted to find that the author, one of our faculty members, had made this material available in this book. Whether someone is going on a one week trip or planning a life time of service, this is a great place to start.

Grace Tazelaar serves as the Nurses Christian Fellowship Missions Director, and she is Missions Editor for the Journal of Christian Nursing. Prior to the NCF, she worked as Community Health Programs Director at Luke Society in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and in this position, she developed a community-based health care ministry with Cary Christian Center.

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