Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Review: Though Lions Roar by Mary Beth Lagerborg

I never actually read missionary biographies until I became a missionary. I’ve developed an interest in reading them here and there, if only to be encouraged a bit by those who have walked this road. Of course many of the biographies out there are about people doing way “crazier” things than me, or the more “impressive” stories (but really, anyone doing God’s work, no matter the location or specifics is doing something crazy and impressive as far as I’m concerned). This one is no exception. It’s a brief (107 pages, in a smaller-than-usual size book) account of the life and work of Helen Roseveare, who was a missionary doctor to the Congo in the 50s and 60s. We’re talking a single British lady who went off to Africa to be a doctor. In the 50s. At a time when it took 5 WEEKS to get from London to where she was going. I don’t think I’ll ever gripe about my13 hour plane ride with (horror of horros!) 2 transfers again. 

Though Roseveare has written many books about her life and work, and I think several other people have written biographies about her, I stumbled across this one and decided to read it. I just LOVE reading about the Lord using His people to do His work. I love reading about how God refines people and molds them more into the image of Christ. 

I dog-eared several pages in this book with vignettes that I found particularly encouraging/challenging. During her first month someone told her, “If you think you have come to the mission field because you are a little better than others, or as the cream of your church, or because of your medical degree, or for the service you can render the African church, or even for the souls you may see saved, you will fail.” The book continues, “He told her the one thing the Lord cares about most for each of us is to make us more like Jesus. God was interested in Helen’s relationship with Him. She must let Him take her and mold her as He willed. All the rest would take its rightful course.” She had to learn this a little bit in the hard way, and I really identify with that. 

That passage really struck a chord in me, as well as this passage: “She knew that a missionary is sent by God to live a Christian life, usually among people unlike him or her. This may involve preaching, teaching or doctoring, but it always involves personal relationships, often lived out in hard circumstances. These relationships are at the heart of ministry.” Something I often need to remember afresh each day. Relationships. People. Life. Jesus. That’s what this is all about.  Not me. Not Helen. Not anyone or anything else. Just the good news of Jesus.

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