Here in the United States, where Christmas is commercialized to the nth degree, Black Friday shopping has been a major Christmas season marketing feature for years. Starting in the early morning hours on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day (always the fourth Thursday in November in the USA) stores offer incredible doorbuster deals on select items to lure customers to begin their holiday shopping at those retail establishments.
This year many American retailers rolled out their Black Friday advertising and deals at the beginning of November. Some Christian retailers have joined in the early Black Friday marketing push. I cannot fault them for desiring to catch and direct people’s attention to their products, which they consider to be of real spiritual value for their potential patrons. After all, if those Christian retailers start their Christmas promoting too late, the hard reality is that not a few of their could-have-been customers will have already decided to spend their available gift-buying funds on other items.
I am an author of historical Christian biographies. I am not a retailer who makes my living by selling my books. While I definitely believe my books fill a vital niche in the Christian market, the fact is they are not best-sellers or big money-makers. But honestly, I wish my published works were best-sellers, not for the financial gain that would bring to me, but for the tremendous spiritual benefits such reading would bring to many Christians. Among the numerous benefits to be gained by reading the life stories of outstanding men and women of the Christian faith are encouragement, inspiration and instruction to strengthen and vitalize our own spiritual lives and service.
Out of that motivation, I’d like to draw your attention to the biographies I’ve had the privilege of writing, and to invite you to consider them as potential worthwhile gifts for one or more of the people on your Christmas gift-giving list this year. And perhaps you’ll want to include a couple of these books on your own Christmas gift-wish list.
David Livingstone: Missionary, Explorer, Abolitionist – This is my most recent biography, published in July of this year! It provides a comprehensive account of the Scottish missionary doctor who became one of the most prominent and honored people to live in the 1800s. He pioneered vast regions of southcentral and southeastern Africa, rewrote the Western world’s understanding of that portion of the African continent, opened the door for Christianity and legitimate commerce to be brought into those regions, and played a primary role in the slave trade being ended there. The book is available in a beautiful hardback edition and in an unabridged audiobook edition (with Audible.com). This volume will appeal to those who love substantive biography and history reading, and to those who are up to taking a first crack at such substantial reading (or listening).
Women of Faith and Courage – Women and older girls (and even some men) will appreciate this collection of abbreviated biographies on five prominent Christian ladies: Susanna Wesley, Fanny Crosby, Catherine Booth, Mary Slessor and Corrie ten Boom. Both in their own homes and in the public sphere these women served the Lord, their families and others with tremendous faithfulness and fruitfulness. Women’s reading groups would find this to be a profitable book to read and discuss together.
Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians – This book features engaging true stories grouped into eight chapters on key themes of the Christian life: Family, Service, Prayer, Faith, Witness, Forgiveness, Stewardship and Adversity. The stories are drawn from actual incidents in the lives of ten eminent Christians, including Corrie ten Boom, Amy Carmichael, Billy Graham, Dwight Moody, George Muller, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, George Whitefield and others. Many people enjoy picking up this book and reading a few or several beneficial stories at a time, rather than following a lengthy, sustained narrative of one person’s life. This book is also a treasure trove of illustrations for pastors and Christian teachers, as it includes a total of some 200 anecdotes on the key Christian-living themes already mentioned.
Hudson Taylor, Gospel Pioneer to China – Taylor’s missionary career was one big adventure from start to finish, and is fascinating to both younger and older readers. His undying concern for those who needed to hear of the Savior and his remarkable faith in God motivated and enabled him to establish the China Inland Mission, through which tens of thousands of Chinese came to faith in Christ. His example quickens our own Christian compassion and faith.
John and Betty Stam, Missionary Martyrs – The Stams were a young American couple who served the Lord with single-minded consecration and warmth of personal devotion. They ultimately laid down their very lives in doing so when they were martyred by Communist rebels in China. For them honoring Christ by life or by death (Philippians 1:20) was not a mere slogan, but a reality by which they lived and died. Beginning in their own day and continuing to the present time nearly ninety years after their deaths, their examples have inspired untold thousands to serve Jesus with greater commitment. Older teens and young adults processing such issues as marriage and God’s call to vocational ministry will find this biography especially helpful.
David Brainerd: A Flame for God – Brainerd was a pioneer missionary to Colonial American Indians. He persevered through marked difficulties and discouragements in his ministry, which was crowned with a remarkable bona fide revival among the Indians to whom he ministered. This book is full of citations from Brainerd’s private spiritual diaries, which reveal the passionate devotional spirit with which he served the Lord.
Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa – Murray was South Africa’s premier preacher, devotional writer and church leader in the latter 1800s and early 1900s. While being a man of seemingly constant action and accomplishment, Murray was also a contemplative individual whose preaching and writing were deeply devotional. Through his prolific writing endeavors, he had a worldwide ministry to hundreds of thousands of Christians in his own day, and his books continue to minister to thousands today. Pastors and laymen alike will be inspired by his example of active, progressive service flowing from his intense personal fellowship with the Lord.
Adoniram Judson: Devoted for Life – Judson was America’s very first foreign missionary and a pioneer missionary to Burma. He and his three successive wives endured staggering hardships in bringing the Gospel to Burma. Judson established healthy Christian congregations there and translated the entire Bible into the Burmese language. He and his wives’ sacrifices and accomplishments continue to bear spiritual fruit in that difficult country to this day.
You can find much more information about these biographies under the “Books” tab at my writing website www.vancechristie.com. Just type the title of any of my books plus my name (e.g., ‘david livingstone vance christie’) into your internet search engine to bring up numerous retailers who sell the work, oftentimes at a nice discount off the retail price.
Of course, quality biographies have been written about hundreds of other outstanding Christians of the past and can be readily located on the internet. Here’s a link to a list of top-tier biographies I recommend: “Some Highly Recommended Historical Christian Biographies.”
Lots of worthwhile Christian biographies have also been published for younger children and older youth. See, for instance, Christian Focus Publication’s Trailblazer series (under its CF4Kids imprint) and YWAM’s Christian Heroes Then & Now series.
Copyright 2023 by Vance E. Christie