Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Review: God's Great Missionaries

by Nathan Brown

So much is written about evangelism and mission these days that it’s refreshing to take these many discussions back to the source. Beginning with the stories of Jesus, the early church and other assorted Bible characters, God’s Great Missionaries takes a fresh and credible look at what it means to be part of the mission of God in the world today.

Born to missionary parents, first-time author Gary Krause is now a director of mission for the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide. He brings this extensive experience of church mission activities around the world to his reading of familiar Bible stories.

God’s Great Missionaries is the companion book to a series of Bible-study guides and, in just a couple of places, the book slips and shows its Bible-study-lesson origins, taking angles that do not strictly fit with the Bible-story sources or the flow of the book. But on the whole, the book gains strength from its solid Bible-study foundations. The Bible stories are treated with respect and depth, at its best when focused on the practical ministries of Jesus and Paul. At the same time, this is not merely a head-in-the-book Bible study—indeed the subject matters demands it not be.

A book on engaging meaningfully with the world must itself engage with the realities of that world. God’s Great Missionaries is poignantly aware of the need for God and the hope He offers to our world—a world that simply can’t save itself—but also for the need for the message and presentation of the gospel to be adapted to language, culture and obvious needs of the people with whom it is being shared. Krause draws on stories of mission from around the world, Adventist mission history and personal experience, as well as citing contemporary events, voices and trends, to demonstrate that gaining a hearing for a message is as much about listening and responding as it is about preaching.

Easy reading but significant thinking, God’s Great Missionaries’ vision is active, global, inclusive, faithful, urgent and transformative. The book passionately challenges the church to think bigger in imagining how God can use us as His people to build His kingdom in our world: “We need to tear down those church doors and rip them off their hinges.” And it must also challenge us individually as to the role we play in our lives, churches and communities.


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