Last night I finished reading Dispatches from the Front by Tim Keesee, and it was incredible.
On the Lifeway blog, writer Gloria Furman recommends Dispatches from the Front as one of the top 5 books moms should read. When I saw that, it struck me that, of all the books out there, she suggests that mothers make it a priority to read a travelogue, so---especially since I so enjoy the DVD series---I put this book on the top of my reading list and had no problem blazing through it. Tim Keesee writes poetically, accessibly, and most importantly worshipfully, so every page was a joy.
Dispatches from the Front follows Tim Keesee’s journeys over what I’m assuming is a span of several years as he checks in with various Christians around the globe. I have heard about and totally idealized believers and workers in far-off lands, but this book really helped me see what things are actually like over there. He gives insightful glimpses into cultures and histories about which I previously had no clue. It was incredible to read about what Christians are like in Russia, India, China, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. The Church is so different in all those places, but in the most important ways the Church is also the same and shepherded by the same glorious Jesus who shepherds us here. Believers in almost every chapter are being persecuted on some level and all have endured much hardship, but through reading these stories I learned that that’s just the Christian life! Jesus told us that in this world we will have troubles, but we can take heart because He has overcome the world.
I saw Christ’s overcoming of the world in this book. I saw powerful men working tremendous evil, but story after story it became so plain that Christ and His church are more powerful. I was reminded often of John 18:36, when Jesus answered to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Church buildings are being destroyed, lives are being ruthlessly taken, but the Christians are doing something far more revolutionary than fighting back: they are trusting their sovereign Lord and bringing the gospel to their oppressors…and the Holy Spirit’s power is prevailing against the strongest guns and most brutal threats.
As I say all this I realize that I tend to romanticize God’s work overseas, and I’m certain my husband has been thinking “Oh great, this book is the last thing Hope needs to read,” since he has to listen to my whining about living in rotten ol’ America when we could surely have a more fulfilling life serving God elsewhere. But actually, reading about God’s grace and power in hard places all over the world has given me contentment and mobilized me for where I am. For one thing, I saw that many Christians overseas are seeing the Lord’s mighty power to save, but most of their lives are even more mundane than mine, and they’re just doing hard work, being faithful, and loving Jesus. Secondly, I noticed over and over again that these Christians pray a lot. Maybe I’m not seeing God radically save my friends and family because I’m not really asking Him.
My favorite DVD in the series and possibly my favorite chapter in this book is the one that follows the life and daily work of David Hosaflook, who has been faithfully serving in Albania for many years. He has made disciples who have made disciples who are making disciples, which is extremely awe-inducing to see, but his formula for planting churches is totally simple: pray, meet people, tell them about Jesus. And on the DVD and in the book you see prayer happening all the time. God loves to answer prayer and show His might through our dependency on Him. I am blown away by His power, greatness, and love, and I am stirred more than ever to pray, meet people, tell them about Jesus, and see the Holy Spirit do works that no human striving could ever accomplish!
I can't recommend this book (or the DVD series) enough! I definitely plan on reading it again next year and there's a hefty chance I'll make it an annual priority.
God is mighty to save!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
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Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today