What Do Pastors Do All Week, Anyway?

Shortly after I began working at a church, a friend invited me to visit him in another town. As we were working out a good time for us to see one another, he said, “Hey, I know! You could come on a weekday — after all, you really only work on Sundays.” For the record, that’s not true.

On the other hand, I regularly talk to students and others who ask to meet with me, almost apologetically. “I know you’re extremely busy, so if you can’t talk with me it’s no problem.” I usually reassure them that meeting with people in the congregation is one of the major purposes of my job — pastors are busy, but (hopefully) not too busy to minister to people.

SO, what do pastors do all week? When we’re not preaching, how is our time occupied? Sometimes college students who are considering vocational ministry ask that question, so I figured I’d provide a basic breakdown for the interested or merely curious.

It varies with each church, with each individual pastor, and even with the time of year. (For example, August, September, and April are extremely busy for me, while June is fairly slow). However, I have found that my time can be divided into three main functions — teaching/preparation, leadership/administration, and pastoral care (which includes pastoral advising, baptisms, funerals, weddings, hospital visits, and a host of other activities).

Here was the basic flow of a recent week — this is as typical as any, although weeks vary from one another, sometimes quite significantly:

MondayMorning: Blogging, reading, writing, catching up (1-2 times a month I visit a nearby nursing home with the staff); Lunch: Meet with a college intern for discipleship/prayer; Afternoon: Meet with permanent college staff for strategic planning and prayer; Meet with a couple who wants to get married.

Tuesday Morning: Teach weekly intern theology class; meet with full college staff to plan the week and pray; Lunch: Meet with a young adult to discuss his future plans; Afternoon: Full church staff information exchange meeting; catch up with email; preview sermon topic/passage for Sunday; meet with local radio station staff to talk about partnering with them. Evening: Discuss Rob Bell’s new book with students in our small groups.

Wednesday — Morning: Study in-depth for sermon; Lunch: On Texas A&M campus for lunch with students; Afternoon: Further study; Save the world from multiple nuclear meltdowns (just kidding — had to make sure you’re still reading!); Meeting with two fellow pastors for prayer/accountability/encouragement.

Thursday — Morning: Sermon preparation; Lunch: Eat with my wife and son; Afternoon: Email/Phone calls/Admin; Pastoral team meeting to discuss church business and strategy.

Friday Morning: Finish sermon preparation (hopefully!); Lunch/Afternoon: Home with family (Friday afternoon is my half-day off).

Saturday — My full day off; rest and spend time with family.

Sunday — Arrive at church around 8 AM to pray and prepare for 11 AM college class. Preach at 11 AM college class. Lunch with students until 2 PM. Return to church at 5 PM to prepare for 6 PM college class. Preach 6 PM college class, leave to go home around 7:30.

So there you have it! A “typical” week. Of course, all of this can change rapidly if somebody goes to the hospital or passes away or a student or staff member has a major personal crisis.

One other note: I haven’t mentioned particular times for prayer throughout the week, since I usually spend time in prayer before heading to the office. In addition, prayer flows throughout my activities — before and during sermon prep, before and after major appointments, etc.

Questions for you: Is there anything that surprises you about this schedule breakdown? If you are a pastor or know one well, how does this compare to what you know or have heard?

[Image via http://vdldodgeball.ca/blog/schedule-updates/schedule]

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A Different Passage for Easter

Easter is my favorite holiday hands down. Don’t get me wrong, I think Christmas is great and I love celebrating the Incarnation of Christ, remembering his entrance into the world. I enjoy the extended time with family and the rest from work.

But Easter is about resurrection. It’s about New Life. I wake up on Easter morning and feel joyful to the point of bursting, because of what has happened and what is to come.

We all know what happened — some 2000 years ago a few women went to Jesus’s tomb and found it empty. It was an earth-shaking, shiny angel, rolled stone, mass chaos type of day. Nothing like this had happened before. Ever.

But we often forget that this will happen again.

Sometimes we read 1 Corinthians 15 and say, “The resurrection of Christ was important — it’s the foundation of our faith. It proves that He is God and that His sacrifice for our sin was accepted and sufficient.”

That’s true and right and wonderful. But that’s not the main point of the passage.

The main point is that Jesus’s resurrection ensures that it will happen again — those who trust in Him will rise from the dead. Not as disembodied spirits, but as glorified and real bodies. People who can touch and be touched, who are truly and fully alive, body and spirit. The way we should be.

People who live without fear, sickness, death, pain, sadness, or any of the other troubles that plague us now.

So on Easter, I do think about 1 Corinthians 15, but I’ve begun reading a different passage as well.

Revelation 21 – 22. It describes a new earth, a new heaven, and perfect, renewed, living people. The resurrection of Christ was only the beginning, the “firstfruits” of resurrection and new life. Jesus’s resurrection wasn’t just a great event way back then. It’s an event with earth-shaking, eternal, life-renewing consequences now and in the future.

Because He arose, we will rise. Because He arose, the earth will be re-made and renewed. Because He arose, we wake up on Easter morning and don’t merely celebrate, we anticipate. Our redemption has occurred, but our redemption is still to come.

One day my tomb and your tomb will be empty as well. All will be right, all will be renewed, and life will last forever.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. And I saw the holy city – the new Jerusalem – descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more – or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” Then he said to me, “Write it down, because these words are reliable and true.” He also said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the one who is thirsty I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life. (Revelation 21:1-6, NET)

[Image via http://ruach.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/empty-tomb/]

What On Earth Are You Watching?

“Have you ever watched the show _________?”

A friend of mine asked me this question recently about a television show that is particularly popular right now. I told him I’d never heard of it and asked him to describe it for me.

He went on to explain that the show centers around a man who works for the police department by day, but who moonlights as a vicious serial killer. And this lovely man is the protagonist of the show. Those who are familiar with the show recognize the plot description– I’m intentionally omitting its name from this post, because I honestly don’t want to motivate any new viewers to go check it out.

As he described some of the graphic, violent, highly sexualized imagery of the television show I began to feel my stomach turning. People actually watch this for entertainment? And they root for the homicidal maniac as he dishes out his sadistic brand of “justice”?

Now I am not normally a particularly squeamish or prudish individual. I watch a few TV shows, and enjoy a good suspense or action movie as much as the next person. I’m also not an alarmist — I don’t truly believe that watching a show about a serial killer will produce a nation of crazy maniacal murderers.

That having been said, I’ve found myself more and more sensitive to the violence and sexual perversion that often presents itself as entertainment in our culture. Perhaps it’s a consequence of having children — I can’t watch fictional images of people being tortured, abused, murdered, or used without thinking, “That’s somebody’s child or father or mother or friend.” I just don’t find it entertaining anymore. Perhaps it’s a consequence of the Holy Spirit’s increased conviction in my heart — I keep remembering passages like Philippians 4:8 that remind me to consider carefully what I think about.

Those who believe that what we put into our minds has no impact on our behavior or thought processes are simply wrong. I could cite study after study, and there are many (see parentstv.org if you want a few), but I don’t really need to cite them. What we put into our minds affects how we think. How we think affects how we act.

No, I don’t think shows like the one I’ve described will make me go kill somebody. And no, I don’t think watching Desperate Housewives will make me a raging adulterer. But I do think that continually viewing graphic, bloody, heartless murder just might lower my ability to empathize with those who are suffering. I know that constantly looking at highly sexualized images of young men and women will lower my ability to view other people as anything more than objects for my personal gratification.

How do I know that? Because I speak with people nearly every week who are drowning in sexual addictions and pornographic images, which follow them around at school, at work, and at home. Such thoughts color their attitudes toward other people and deeply harm their ability to love and serve others as Christ does.

I don’t need another new study — I’ve seen the devastation.

So what is the point of all of this? Simply this: Are the shows you are watching, the sites you are surfing, and the music you are hearing consistent with Philippians 4:8?

Do the images you put in your head and your heart honor or degrade the image of God in your fellow human beings?

Are the heroes you cheer on dark and twisted anti-heroes, or are they men and women fighting for what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?

Would you invite Jesus to watch with you?

Guess what? If you know Him, He’s there with you already.

Still sure you want to watch that?

Question for you: Do you set standards for what you choose to view or hear? What are they, and what sort of steps have you put in place to ensure that you adhere to them?

[Image via http://www.physorg.com/news162468111.html]

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How Did I Know She Was “The ONE”?

From time to time students and young adults ask me that question — how did I know for certain that my wife Shannon was the one I was supposed to marry?

That’s an actual picture of my actual wife — surely you can see that such an esoteric philosophical question bears little relevance when we’re talking about a babe like this. How could I not have known?

However, I know that some have asked this question because you’re wondering about your life, so I’m more than happy to comment on the big question:

How do I know when I’ve found the person I should marry?

Sometimes people ask me the question this way: “Is there only ONE person in the world for me, or are there a variety of possibilities as long as I adhere to certain standards or qualifications?”

That question seems odd to me — are there people out there with 7 possible wives who are trying to decide between them? If so, how have you found yourself in such a situation? I’d rather stick with real life here — assume you’re dating ONE person, and you need to decide whether to marry that person.

Here are some things to consider:

Is your potential partner a Christian of the opposite sex? These are the two criteria that the Bible is pretty clear about. The Christian part can be found in 2 Cor 6:14 — assuming marriage is a pretty solid “yoke” or “bind,” then marrying an unbeliever is out of bounds. Also, 1 Cor 7:39 indicates that a woman whose husband has died can remarry, “only in the Lord,” meaning she ought to marry a believer.

The opposite sex part is clear as well — this isn’t a post on the issue of homosexuality, but it is consistently rejected as a viable option for those pursuing Jesus (1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; Rom 1:26-27).

Are you both walking closely with Jesus? Beyond just being Christians, are you growing in Christ-likeness and seeking to exhibit the fruit of the spirit in your life? Marriage can be challenging in many ways — it helps immensely if you both are seeking the Lord.

Do you share similar values on critical issues? I don’t mean stuff like which direction you roll the toilet paper (although “over” is the correct answer). I mean really important issues: do you both want children (and if so, how many — 2-3 or 10-12 — it matters), how do you feel about the roles of men and women in marriage, should a mom stay home with the kids or work outside the home, is any debt ever acceptable, is extended family highly important, and other key issues? It’s amazing how many couples never even discuss these matters prior to marriage.

Do you like this person? By this I mean, do you get along with him or her? Are your conversations enjoyable, or is every interaction heavy and draining? Do you have lots of intense “discussions” (i.e. arguments)? If you spill ketchup on your shirt, does your potential mate burst into tears and question whether you even care about anything and whether you have the organizational skills needed to raise a family?

Some people say, “Don’t marry a person you can live with; marry a person you can’t live without.” To be honest, it would be great if people would just marry somebody they can live with. I love my wife dearly, and she adds to my life immeasurably, but I doubt I would drop dead or curl up into a little ball and become non-functional if something happened to her. Nor would she do the same if something happened to me. That level of dependence is unhealthy. And it would scare me if I left town for a few days and she crawled into the closet to weep because “she just can’t live without  me.” Who needs that sort of pressure?

But I like her a lot and she makes me laugh and we love to serve Jesus together — do you like the person you’re considering marrying?

Do you love this person? Are you willing to sacrifice your own rights on his or her behalf? Can you honestly commit to the rest of your life and really mean it? Do you value his or her good above your own?

These are just a few things to think about as you prepare for marriage.

Question for you: Did I miss anything? Should I take anything off the list? Let me know!

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Everybody Was Facebook Fighting!

…and it was so exciting!

OK, so that was a cheesy title and introduction, but this post is going to be serious, so I thought I’d start light.

I wrote a post recently about social media and whether it leads to heresy. I concluded that social media isn’t un-Christian in and of itself — I don’t think that people are likely to become docetists or Arians or whatever as a result of using it.

However, I have noticed that social media can contribute to certain types of un-Christian behavior. Think of the fruit of the Spirit for a moment (Gal 5:22): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Have you ever noticed how many of these seem absent in online discussions, especially on Facebook for some reason? I’ve been guilty of poor behavior myself from time to time, and it usually starts like this:

1. Somebody posts a link or a comment stating an opinion on a political, religious, or cultural issue.

2. Somebody else takes exception to it and posts a response. The post can either be a respectful disagreement or an angry troll-like attack. I’ve seen everything from, “You’ve missed a couple of key points here” all the way to “You’re a complete moron without a brain in your head” to sentiments that would be unprintable here.

3. The original poster takes offense, either justly or unjustly, and responds defensively, with a bit more venom than the responder. He or she is angry at being contradicted in front of hundreds or thousands of virtual friends.

4. And it escalates viciously until somebody concedes, withdraws in embarrassment, or unfriends the other person and calls down curses on his or her posterity unto 10,000 generations.

Why does this happen, and why is it particularly prevalent online? I see it occasionally in face-to-face discussions, but I see it quite often on Facebook or the blogosphere.

Many have cited the relative anonymity of the internet, which I think is a factor on blogs, but less so on Facebook. Most of us use our real identities out there. So what’s the problem?

I think it often boils down to decontextualization, a fancy word for the fact that online interactions are often divorced from the real world in some critical ways:

1. In an online setting, I can’t see the other person’s body language or hear their vocal inflections. These are critical clues to a person’s intent when we’re face to face. Is he or she angry? Sarcastic? Sad? Teasing? It’s much harder to tell without the contextual clues that tip us off in person. A statement that might seem innocuous in person can come across stark and unkind in black and white (or black and blue, as the case may be).

2. There is no opportunity to quickly clarify statements like we do in person. If somebody says something harsh, it sits there on the screen, in a public forum, forever. Once it’s in print, people are  less likely to retract it or qualify it, especially when the intensity of the conversation escalates.

So what to do? I’m still learning myself, but a couple of principles have helped me in the past few weeks and months, and I’ve seen far fewer of these incidents:

First, wait a while before responding if you feel upset. Speed is your enemy — take a few breaths, say a prayer and then WAIT. Over a few hours or days, your initial emotions are likely to subside.

Second, re-read your own words again carefully. Sometimes the responses I’ve received were unintentionally provoked by something I wrote that came across as unkind or provocative.

Third, refuse to engage with the really angry trolls. If somebody calls you names or implies something about your maternal heritage, don’t respond. Just ignore it or privately approach the person to deal with it.

Fourth, ask yourself if your response fits with Galatians 5:22-23. Is it kind, patient, loving, etc.? Would you say this in person, face-to-face? If not, don’t type it.

This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it helps a bit.

Question for you: What steps do you take to pursue Christ-likeness in your online interactions?

[Image via http://www.socialstrategy1.com/2010/11/29/defend-your-brand-%E2%80%93-2-tips-for-tapping-your-inner-kung-fu-fighter/]

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Book Review: Love Wins

Depending upon your personality and theological persuasion, you’re either eager to read this review or you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “Another review of that book?” It is true that there have been a number of reviews written and posted online — the best one I’ve seen thus far is Kevin DeYoung’s review at The Gospel Coalition.

However, some have asked me if I would be willing to write a shorter and more accessible review of the book, summarizing the key issues concisely.  To be honest, it is hard to know exactly where to begin, since the book covers a broad span of complex topics, and a short review will only go so far in explaining them.  However, it’s worth it to me to try, for the sake of my readers who are considering the concepts Rob Bell attempts to deal with. I’ll start with a brief summary of the book and then provide my thoughts on the content.

Summary: Does God really send people to hell for eternity if they fail to believe in Jesus as their Savior? If so, what does this say about the character of God and the message of Jesus? In roughly 200 pages, Bell challenges the traditional understanding of heaven and hell by suggesting a new path: perhaps hell is not forever, and there are infinite post-mortem opportunities for people to come to Jesus. Perhaps, he suggests, hell is more of a state of mind than a literal place of punishment and physical separation from God. Maybe Jesus didn’t really die to satisfy God’s anger or to substitute Himself for sinners. Instead, He just wanted to show us that God loves us and is no longer angry at all. Bell argues that the Gospel is much bigger than the message of eternal life and forgiveness of sins through belief in Jesus. Instead, the forgiveness of God is extended freely to everybody, whether they believe in Jesus or not. The Gospel according to Bell is that heaven and hell are ultimately what we make of the choices and opportunities God has given us, now and in eternity.
 
Bell is a gifted communicator. There are places in this book in which Bell raises some valuable questions, ones that need to be answered.  However, the way in which he answers them demonstrates a number of flaws in his methodology and his theology. Here are my concerns:

Bell consistently forces Scripture into meanings that are foreign to the original context. One example is his discussion of the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus. Luke 16 relates the story of how the rich man and Lazarus both died — Lazarus went to “Abraham’s bosom” while the rich man went to Hades. The rich man is clearly in agony, while Lazarus is comforted in heaven. Bell rightly points out that the rich man’s value system has not changed, even in hell. But then he draws the conclusion that Jesus is using vivid imagery to communicate one simple truth: hell is nothing more than the fact that “there are all kinds of ways to reject all that is good and true and beautiful and human” in this life and the next. In other words, hell is not a literal place of judgment but is merely the inner torment we experience when we reject God.The chasm between heaven and hell is only in the “rich man’s heart,” which is still hardened toward other people and God.

The problem, of course, is that the context belies Bell’s interpretation. In the parable, even when the rich man expresses remorse and sadness, he is unable to cross the great chasm between heaven and hell. His destiny is already determined — in other words, the context of this parable teaches exactly what Bell denies, that there is a permanent destiny for human souls dependent upon how they respond to Jesus in this life. Whether the specific imagery is metaphorical or not, it is clear that Jesus is teaching that heaven and hell are real places, and that people go permanently to one or the other.

This is only one example of numerous issues like this throughout the book — to be frank, there are times that I could almost hear the text screaming as Rob Bell twisted and tore it out of context to suit his arguments.

Bell is uncomfortable with a God who punishes sin decisively and permanently. Early in the book Bell affirms that God gets angry at certain sins (exploitation, victimization, abuse, etc.). But there is a clear distinction between God’s judgment in Bell’s understanding and that of traditional Christianity. In Bell’s view, God’s judgment consists of stopping bad behavior but does not consist of punishing sinful people. People punish themselves, but God does not punish them. In contrast, the Scripture is full of statements about God’s decisive judgment of sinners on the last day.

For example, Revelation 20 describes God on his judgment throne. He decisively judges Satan and his demons and throws them into the Lake of Fire, where they “will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Then, he judges the wicked nations and casts those whose names are not in the Book of Life into the same Lake of Fire. Revelation 21:8 describes how the “cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars” will be cast into the Lake of Fire and experience the second death.

Bell attempts to circumvent this issue by pointing out that Revelation 21:25 says that the gates of the New Jerusalem will never be closed.  His conclusion is that anybody can come and go as they please, as long as they stay in line and do what God wants while they are there. Again this ignores the context — verse 27 talks specifically about those who have been cast into the Lake of Fire, and says that they can never come into the heavenly city.  The gates aren’t open to allow free access; they’re open because the city is so secure that nobody who has been judged and sent to hell could ever come in anyway!

Bell makes it clear that he finds Jesus’ substitutionary death on behalf of sinners to be a laughable concept worthy of mockery. Of all the problems in this book, I found this to be the most egregious. Traditionally, Christians have held that Jesus’ death on the cross was intended to satisfy God’s wrath on our behalf — Jesus was actually sacrificed in our place to bear the full punishment for our sin (Hebrews 9:23-28; Romans 3:23-26;1 Jn 2:2; 4:10 — propitiation refers to a sacrifice that avers God’s wrath; 1 Peter 3:18).

Bell states that this view amounts to “Jesus rescuing us from God” and repeatedly tells us that it’s a story that has nothing to do with Jesus and that this belief is the reason people are abandoning Christianity in droves. He does not believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was a payment for our sin – instead, it was simply a demonstration of God’s general love for humanity.

In this way, Bell grievously undermines both the character of God and the glory of God’s grace. Punishment for sin is simply unnecessary — we are only punished by the natural consequences of our own choices. God’s grace, according to Bell, does not provide payment for our sin in order that we might find forgiveness and eternal life.  Instead, God’s “grace” simply overlooks our sin and asks us not to do it anymore.

This error was the one that made me want to cry. The Gospel of Rob Bell is no longer the good news of a God who forgives sin by sacrificing his Son on our behalf. It is instead the message that we can simply say we’re sorry, realign ourselves with God’s love for everybody, and He’ll wink and ignore our previous rebellion and disobedience. As a result, sin is still possible after Christ’s return, so God’s judgment is never complete. Sin and evil are never truly defeated, only pushed to the dark corners of God’s kingdom.

Finally, Bell assumes that belief in hell requires a person to be hard-hearted and unloving. I wrote previously about how Bell excludes the middle — there is no room in his theology for an evangelical who genuinely loves sinners and shares the Gospel boldly so that people can avoid the pain of hell. He also assumes that belief in the traditional view means that a person is only concerned about “who gets in and who stays out” and is clearly not concerned about reflecting Jesus in the here and now. Quite the opposite is true, though.

Those who hold the traditional view have a robust tradition of sharing the Gospel around the world, giving to the poor, helping the weak, and battling the effects of sin and rebellion against God. Bell views everything from the grid of his own narrow and apparently unloving family history, and fails to closely look at church history as a whole. Christians reflect Jesus in the here and now precisely because we believe strongly in final judgment. Our desire is to reflect God’s kingdom so that men and women from every nation will stream to His light.

Conclusion:

This is the longest post I’ve written, but hopefully short enough for you to read and grasp the major issues. In the final analysis, Bell’s book amounts to a repackaging of liberal theology.  The ideas are nothing new, but Bell communicates them in a way that is attractive and just ambiguous enough that many will miss the fact that he has simply dredged up old heresies.

For those who hold to traditional orthodoxy, the question is this: Can we faithfully preach the Gospel as written in the Scripture, and live in such a way as to draw the world to Jesus? I believe we can, and when we do I think this resurgence of liberalism will die a slow death, just as it did with the revival of robust evangelicalism in the middle of the 20th century. So, let’s get busy sharing Jesus and loving the world God has made — who knows the great ways God will move?

[Image via http://eyeonapologetics.com/blog/2011/03/21/book-reviews-of-love-wins-by-rob-bell/]

Book Review: Our Witchdoctors Are Too Weak

I’ve always enjoyed missionary biographies — the stories of men and women who spend their lives sharing Jesus in faraway lands and unfamiliar cultures. I find that they always challenge me to reconsider my own life — have I become too comfortable or too in love with this world? Even though God might not be calling me overseas right now, am I actively participating in the Great Commission?

I particularly enjoy missionary biographies that attempt to accurately portray the triumphs and struggles of those on the field, without romanticizing or idealizing their lives. Missionaries are ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and the best biographies highlight that juxtaposition.

Our Witchdoctors Are Too Weak is such a book. It is the autobiography of Davey and Marie Jank, a couple who ministered in the Amazon jungle of South America among a tribe called the Wilo people. The Janks were part of a team with New Tribes Mission who were tasked with translating the Bible into the native language of the Wilos so that they could hear the Gospel for the first time. The book begins with Davey’s arrival in the tribal village and chronicles his struggles to learn their language, adapt to their culture, and translate the Scripture in terms that the people could understand. Along the way he meets Marie and gets married, but I’ll not spoil the story for you.

Here is what I enjoyed about this book:

The Janks are authentic in their depiction of missionary life. I never got the impression that the book was written to impress me with how godly they were for spending decades in a primitive tribal village sharing the Gospel. To the contrary, it is filled with gentle self-deprecating humor and frank admissions of struggle and even failure. On the other hand, Davey and Marie’s passion for the Gospel is evident throughout the book. They clearly love the Wilo people and deeply believe in the importance of their mission.

It gave me a good window into the world of a Bible translator. Davey’s stories about the complexities of the language and the challenges of Bible translation were fascinating to me. For example, how do you explain the story of Jacob and Esau to a culture that believes twins are inherently evil? How do you communicate forgiveness to a people who have no way to say, “I’m sorry”?

It illustrates the power of the Gospel and its transcendence over culture and language. I won’t say much more, because I don’t want to give away the ending, but the story is a beautiful depiction of God’s love for the world.

The chapters are short and the writing is easy to read. I would imagine the average reader could finish this book in 8-12 hours. The pages seemed to fly by as I read.

I only had one small criticism of the book, and that was its minimal information about time and space. I wished that there were a few more details about the specific location and history of the Wilos. It was also difficult to figure out the dates and timeline of events — one can piece things together by reading carefully, but I would have appreciated a bit more help in this area.

One the whole, I highly recommend this well-written biography as a great story of missionary life, and particularly the life of a Bible translator in a tribal context.

Question for you: Do you have a favorite missionary biography that you would recommend to the readers of this blog? Why do you like it?

(Note: I was not compensated for this review, although I was sent a free copy of the book. There were no stipulations about the content of my review, so the above reflects my honest opinion of the book).

[Image via http://www.daveyandmariejank.com/book/]