A Lifetime of Learning: Biographies That Influenced Nancy's Earlier Years

If you could spend an afternoon with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and talk to her about her walk with Jesus, what would you want to know? Would you: 

May 14 marks Nancy’s sixtieth spiritual birthday—sixty years filled with God’s perfect faithfulness to her and her humble obedience in following His leading. Throughout her ministry, when Nancy has shared which practical resources have nurtured her faith and continue to inspire her today, she’s mentioned the biographies of Christian heroes. 

“Since I was a child,” Nancy wrote in the book (Un)remarkable, “I have treasured the stories of faithful saints like George Müller, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Aylward, and many more.” In her foreword, she explained why she is passionate about encouraging the church to pass these stories on from one generation to the next: 

Though many of my favorite biographies contain stories of men and women God used to do extraordinary things, most of the subjects were ordinary people—you might even call them unremarkable. Some of them had great limitations and significant obstacles to overcome. But when these people trusted in an extraordinary God, He used them in extraordinary ways. On the pages of my Christian biographies, I’ve discovered time and time again that in God’s kingdom the true greats are humble people who used their lives to declare, “It’s not about me; it’s about Jesus.” 

You can be encouraged by the same biographies that have strengthened Nancy’s faith and pointed her to Jesus throughout the last sixty years of her walk with the Lord. You’ll find a list of a few of her most influential spiritual biographies below! 

Biographies That Influenced Nancy's Earlier Years

Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God by Noël Piper (Crossway, 2005)

The stories of these five ordinary women—Sarah Edwards, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Alyward, Esther Ahn Kim, and Helen Roseveare—will challenge readers to make a difference for Christ in their families, in the church, and throughout the world by trusting in their extraordinary God.

In Trouble and in Joy: Four Women Who Lived for God by Sharon James (Evangelical Press, 2003)

Take a look into the lives of four women who lived between the 17th and the 19th centuries in England and America (Margaret Baxter, Sarah Edwards, Anne Steele, and Frances Ridley Havergal). Through the different experiences these four women experienced see how their contentment and happiness did not depend on good health or a happy family. It came from God.


Elliot, JimShadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot (Harper Collins, 2009)

Shadow of the Almighty is one of the great missionary stories of modern times. This book is the life and testament of Jim Elliot, as told by Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth Elliot Gren. Read the true account of Elliot’s martyrdom, along with four fellow missionaries, at the hands of Ecuador’s Huaorani Indians.

Judson, AdoniramTo the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson (Judson Press, 1987)

Adoniram Judson sailed to the golden shores of Burma in 1812 with his wife Ann as the first American missionaries. Even though the golden shore brought bitter hardships, imprisonment, and family tragedy, Adoniram Judson never wavered in his commitment to win people to faith in Christ and to translate the Bible into the Burmese language.

Moody, D.L.A Passion for Souls: The Life of D.L. Moody by Lyle W. Dorsett (Moody Publishers, 2003)

Dwight Lyman Moody was the greatest evangelist of the 19th century traveling more than one million miles to preach the gospel to more than 100 million people. In this book, readers will find a model of biblical passion, vision, and commitment, as Lyle W. Dorsett reveals the heart of this great evangelist—a man after God’s own heart.

Müller, George—George Müller: Delighted in God by Roger Steer (Christian Focus Publications, 2006)

Disturbed by the faithlessness of the Church in general, George Müller longed to have something to point to as "visible proof that God and Father is the same faithful creator he ever was." In the early 1830s, Müller supervised the building of five large orphanages, housing thousands of children, a testament to his generation.

Spurgeon, CharlesSpurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore (Banner of Truth, 1985)

It is no easy task to depict so tremendous a personality as that of Spurgeon in a brief volume, but this short book will meet the needs of those completely ignorant of Spurgeon and his vast achievements, but will also stir the interest of all who value a unique ministry which includes: 62 volumes of "deathless" sermons and many other highly valuable publications.

Spurgeon, CharlesThe Shadow of the Broad Brim: The Life Story of Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Richard Ellsworth Day (Striving Together Publications, 2013)

Charles Spurgeon, still known today as the “Prince of Preachers” preached to tens of thousands of people and his printed sermons continue to be read and loved today. In this biography, learn more about Spurgeon’s life outside the pulpit.


Carmichael, AmyAmy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank L. Houghton (CLC Publications, 1980)

Amy Carmichael was born in 1867 in the village of Millisle, Ireland, and gave herself unconditionally to Christ. Learn about her journey first to Japan, then a short term in Ceylon, presently Sri Lanka, and then finally to India in 1895 where she remained until her death in 1951. Her selfless life and service is an inspiration to anyone interested in Christian missions.

Judson, AnnAnn Judson: A Missionary Life for Burma by Sharon James (rv. ed., Evangelical Press, 2015)

Previously published as My Heart in His Hands, this book is fully revised and updated and is the best modern biography of Ann Judson available. Sharon James uses the sources carefully to bring Ann (and Adoniram) Judson's piety and hard work for the Lord to challenge us to deeper commitment and service to the Lord.

Prentiss, ElizabethElizabeth Prentiss: ‘More Love to Thee’  by Sharon James (rev. ed., Banner of Truth, 2006)

Elizabeth Prentiss is best known as the author of the popular novel Stepping Heavenward (first published 1869) and the well-loved hymn, “More Love to Thee.” The difficult things she experienced equipped her to minister to others through her letters, books, and poetry. To grow in love for God was the one great passion of her life. Read this true story to find out how one woman discovered that the most difficult circumstances are to teach us more about his grace; the very busy times are precisely those times when we need God’s strength; the worst of tragedies can draw us closer to God.

Rose, Darlene DeiblerEvidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Deibler Rose (Harper Collins, 1990)

Newlywed American missionary Darlene Deibler Rose survived four years in a notorious Japanese prison camp set deep in the jungles of New Guinea. Thinking she was never to see her husband again, Darlene Rose was forced to sign a false confession and face the executioner’s sword, only to be miraculously spared.

Roseveare, HelenLiving Sacrifice: Willing to Be Whittled as an Arrow by Dr. Helen Roseveare (rev. ed., Christian Focus, 2007)

Helen Roseveare served as a medical missionary to the Congo from 1953–1973. She was taken prisoner by rebel forces in 1964 for five months, enduring beatings and rapes. After her release she eventually returned to the Congo to help rebuild the nation, establishing a new medical school and hospital. In this book, Helen skillfully weaves stories of sacrifice together with Christian teaching on the subject to show you how sacrifice is the key to joy.

Ten Boom, Corrie—The Five Silent Years of Corrie Ten Boom by Pamela Roswell (Zondervan, 1986)

An intimate, loving look at Corrie during her last years. After suffering a stroke, Corrie lost her speech, but the ministry that had touched millions continued as Corrie communicated through her eyes, through elaborate guessing games with those around her, through silent intercession for people God brought to mind. For those five silent years of imprisonment, Corrie's spiritual depth offered mute testimony to her ongoing trust in her heavenly Father. The details of these years will move all who loved Corrie ten Boom. They will encourage those involved with the elderly or handicapped—and those who are themselves bedridden—that God is at work in and through even the most incapacitated.

Trotter, Lilias—A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotterby Miriam Huffman Rockness (Discovery House Publishers, 2003)

Art critic John Ruskin enthusiastically proclaimed her potential as one of the best artists of the nineteenth century, but Lilias Trotter’s devotion to Christ compelled her to surrender her life of art, privilege, and leisure. Leaving the home of her wealthy parents for a humble dwelling in Algeria, Lilias defied stereotypes and taboos that should have deterred any European woman from ministering in a Muslim country. Yet she stayed for nearly forty years, befriending Algerian Muslims with her appreciation for literature and art and winning them to Christ through her life of love.


Stam, John and BettyThe Triumph of John and Betty Stam by Geraldine Taylor (OMF Books, 2013)

John and Betty Stam were young missionaries in China who were martyred for their faith. They were roughly handled, stripped of their outward clothing, painfully bound, and publicly beheaded. They died—but not without the comfort and support of the Lord, and not without the light of life shining through the darkest circumstances life could bring.

Mathews, Arthur and Wilda— Green Leaf in Drought: The Story of the Escape of the Last CIM Missionaries from Communist China by Isobel Kuhn (OMF Books, 2001)

This is the story of the reluctant exodus, when the last China Inland Mission members were forced from Communist China. The experiences of Arthur and Wilda Mathews answer the question: Can a Christian grow in the driest circumstances?

You may not serve as a missionary. You may never be called to suffer intense persecution for the cause of Christ. Your name may never be known outside the walls of your church or your home. But you can do something remarkable for the cause of Christ. 
Through everyday acts of obedience and humbly living out God’s plan for your life, you can join the ranks of heroes of the faith like Amy Carmichael, Florence Nightingale, Elisabeth Elliot, and so many more. You can do something unremarkable too. 
If this ministry has been a blessing to you, perhaps God is calling you to take one ordinary step by financially supporting Revive Our Hearts as we develop teaching and resources to help women thrive in Christ. 
When you give today, we’ll send you the first volume of (Un)Remarkable: Ten Ordinary Women Who Impacted Their World for Christ as well as an advance digital copy of the all new second volume, (Un)Remarkable: Ten More Ordinary Women Who Impacted Their World for Christ.

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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