Sitting in a plain folding chair in a plain 1,100-square-foot warehouse, Chris Haro shrugs. “How spectacular is a cold cup of water?” he asks.

The warehouse is home to Haro’s Missionary Book Society. “Warehouse” may be too strong a word to use to describe this space, actually the renovated 110-year-old attic of Haro’s insurance office in Auburn, in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. Faded indoor-outdoor carpeting covers the floors, and a metal box bolted onto a wheelbarrow sits by the wall. Pallets of boxes crowd the main room.

As humble as a cup of water might be, though, “even a cup of cold water given in my name will be rewarded,” paraphrases Haro with a smile. Thus, Matthew 10:42 has become the statement of philosophy of the Missionary Book Society.

Booking the missionaries

I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve had time to read. Books have been a real encouragement to me—to relax and read something in English!

—Senegal

For 11 years, any overseas missionary who asks has received a four-pound box of mainstream evangelical Christian books, free of charge. Missionaries write from Bolivia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uruguay, Indonesia, Yemen, and many other far away places.

“It’s not spectacular or romantic,” he says of his ministry. Indeed, at first glance, nothing about the enterprise cries out “Extraordinary!” No stranger would pick out the graying, bespectacled Haro, his belly straining against his shirt buttons, as a man with a mission. Just as unassuming are the streaked warehouse windows that look out over a narrow, gravel parking lot. Even the boxes of books Haro sends out yearly to 6,000 missionaries are just plain brown.

To most people in this gold-rush town, Haro is only a happily married businessman who carves stone for a hobby, ...

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