Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn–Book Review

Before reading this book, I knew very little about Elisabeth Elliot.  Of course, everyone knows the basics of her story — her husband and a number of other missionaries were speared to death by members of a tribe in Ecuador that they hoped to evangelize.  Elisabeth and her young daughter went on to meet and eventually live with this tribe for a time.

This authorized biography covers only Elisabeth’s younger years — from her childhood until she leaves her missionary work in Ecuador to return to the United States.  A second volume which will focus on her later life is forthcoming, and I will be interested in reading that one as well.

Elisabeth, or Betty, as she was called by friends and family was a devoted Christian from her youth, but she does not come across as a cookie-cutter saint.  She has her trials and struggles — including her own personality (she was a introvert and often came across as very stoic and aloof).  Her marriage was also no fairy tale romance.  She and Jim loved one another deeply, but endured an extended courtship as Jim struggled with the sense that he should remain single in order to follow God’s call as a missionary without family encumbrances.  Of course, she grieved greatly over her young husband’s death, and her time with the Waodani tribe was marred by conflict with a fellow missionary, who refused to allow her to participate in translating the tribe’s language.

This is a story of perseverance under great pressure.  Elisabeth never gave up listening to God and following Him wherever she felt led.  She remained hopeful and faithful amid difficult circumstances.  She was both self-reflective and practical — an amazing role model for all Christians.  I found myself well able to identify with her feelings and her struggles.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  I highly recommend it.

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken–Book Review

I received a copy of a devotional by this author,The Insanity of Sacrifice by Nik Ripken , — Book Review and I enjoyed it so much that I checked his earlier book, The Insanity of God, out of the local library.

In this spiritual autobiography (one of my favorite genres), you’ll learn Nik’s full story, and it’s fascinating.  In response to God’s call, Nik travels from his home in Kentucky, to seminary, then with his wife, Ruth to Africa and eventually to Russia, the Ukraine, China and more.  He takes the direction of the Great Commission in Matthew seriously, and maintains it is for all Christians.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

In Somaliland he deals with discouragement.  After years of relief work, providing food and medical care to starving people, he still feels he has failed in taking the gospel to this largely Muslim country, because very few converts were made.  He even questions whether he should be trying to convert people who will then suffer, be persecuted and possibly die for their faith.

This leads him to a study of persecuted Christians around the world, and what keeps them going.  He finds that in many places, Christians expect persecution.  Being imprisoned for the faith is normal.  Becoming mature in the faith requires suffering, and a willingness to sacrifice for God and others.

You’ll find this to be a challenging read.  It made me ask myself hard questions, and look at my Christian life in a different way.  According to Ripken, the miracles and signs of the church described in the book of Acts are still going on around the world.  I certainly recommend it.  Five stars!

Outrageous Grace by Grace L. Fabian–Book Review

This book was given to me by a friend who heard the author speak at a Christian Women’s breakfast.  She said her story was so riveting, you could hear a pin drop as she told it.

Grace Fabian and her husband, Edmund, served as Wycliffe Bible translators in Papua, New Guinea.  They lived for years among the Nabak people, working on a translation of the New Testament into their language, so that the gospel could be more completely shared with this tribe of 25,000.  As Edmund neared the end of this missionary project he was inexplicably murdered by one of his Nabak translation helpers.

Outrageous Grace: A Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness by [Fabian, Grace L.]

Outrageous Grace is the story of the Fabian family, before and after the murder.  It describes how the couple came to faith, met, married and entered the mission field.  After Edmund’s murder, Grace and her children continue his work, forgiving his murderer (who turned out to be mentally ill) and ultimately dedicating the Nabak New Testament amidst the joyous people.  Grace, in a special reconciliation ceremony becomes a sister to the murderer’s wife.

This is an inspiring true life account of faith, forgiveness and perseverance in God’s calling.  It is an honest portrayal of one family’s struggle to forgive in difficult circumstances.  The book includes study questions which could be used with a book club or in a small group setting.  I would recommend it, particularly if you have an interest in missionaries or Wycliffe Translators.  Readers, you can purchase it as Kindle book for only $3.99!  Mrs. Fabian now lives in Pennsylvania and you can visit her online at http://www.GraceFabian.com.

 

The Heart of Evangelism by Jerram Barrs–Book Review

This book review was written for our Fanning the Flame team by one of our members, Barbara G.  I have edited it a bit to make it shorter for the blog.

The author of this book truly loves the Lord and is trying to convey to the reader what we, as people who love Jesus, should do with our lives.

This book is divided into sections.  The first stresses the mission of the world.  That mission is Christ’s Great Commission that he gave to his disciples before his ascension.  The Great Commission is for the whole church of Christ and not just the apostles.  Jesus said there were four horizons for the apostles to spread God’s word.  The first was Jerusalem.  The Jerusalem for the church should be the town in which we live, work and raise our families.  What are you and your church doing to draw people to Jesus in your Jerusalem?  The second horizon is Judea.  This is our country.  We send our ministers to all parts of the U.S.A. to spread the word of God as Jesus commanded.  Is your church  doing their part in your Jerusalem?  The third horizon is Samaria.  These are people in our community who are different from us.  There is a lot of hostility in our country today and that is why we must preach the word of God to everyone in our community.  Is your church building bridges in your community to those who are red, yellow, black and white?  The fourth horizon is the Ends of the Earth.  Is your church sending missionaries to countries all around the world to reach those who know nothing about Jesus Christ?  Barr says the last horizon is the original, literal Jerusalem and Judea.  God is not forgetting the people of Israel.  They are God’s olive tree into which we are grafted, if we are Gentiles.

In the next section the kindness and perseverance of God are explained.  God doesn’t give up on us. Our personal history is part of God’s plan. Someday we will meet someone we can introduce to God, and then we will see clearer God’s plan for our own life.  In this section, he gave his testimony and explained the barriers we face when we decide that we want to evangelize to the world.

In the final section, he reveals how we must respect all those with whom we share God’s word, and explains how Jesus did it.  We must learn about the beliefs of other people so that we can see how and why they live the way they do.  We must use much kindness, love and understanding as we clarify God’s good news to those we try to reach.  Lastly he explains how Paul denounced the Greek’s confidence in rhetorical skills, rather than in truths.  Paul said, give God’s truth in your quest to win souls for Christ and God’s truth will be the words that convince their hearts.  Clever words are not necessary.

Evangelistic Acts

“..the word of God continued to increase and spread.”  Acts 12:24

If you’re looking for a primer on evangelism, turn to the book of Acts.  If there is one overarching theme of Acts, it is the verse above –the spread of Christianity.  Acts is also a book about people, individuals, who through their words and deeds made an impact for Christ.  I’m going to list a few of them here.

  • Philip:  one of the first to preach the gospel outside of Jerusalem (Acts 8:4-40)
  • Peter:  led by God to Cornelius, one of the first Gentiles to become a Christian(Acts 9:32-10:48)
  • Barnabas:  went to Antioch as an encourager; traveled on to Troas (Acts 11:25-30)
  • Apollos:  left Alexandria for Ephesus, preached in Athens and Corinth(Acts 18:24-28)
  • Priscilla & Aquila:  taught the complete gospel story to Apollos (same reference as above)
  • Paul:  went on missionary journeys along with Barnabas and John Mark (Acts 13: 1-14); Silas, Timothy and Luke (Acts 15:36-18:22); Erastus (Acts 18:23 and 19:1-21:4)

In all, Acts mentions over one hundred people who contributed to the growth of the church.  It’s inspiring and exciting reading!