The Missionary Call Review

Book Review: 

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

In reading this book I have a bit of an advantage (as well as a bit of a disadvantage) compared to many other readers, in that I have already served abroad as a missionary and can largely agree with the author's comments about the struggles and nature of missionary life [1].  For a book about a subject like this one, it is a surprisingly and impressively practical and tough-minded one.  The author manages to deftly handle debates about the missionary call as well as provide information to those who have a particular burden on their heart about the standards that missionaries are held to both by the societies that send them and by the people they are preaching to under whom missionaries live under a great deal of scrutiny.  There may be a lot of people who feel the tug of missionary service but who are not really aware of what will be expected or required of them, and for such people, this book will give some much-needed encouragement, information, and material for reflection and prayer.

This volume of a bit more than 250 pages is divided into three parts and twelve chapters, of which the last part is the longest.  After a foreword and introduction, the author begins with a discussion of the missionary call (I), specifically how it is to be understood (1), how God's will is to be known (2), the biblical basis for the missionary call (3), and various historical understandings of that call (4).  After this there is a brief section on understanding the missionary call (II), dealing with questions of how specific the call has to be (5), the timing of the call (6), and how to deal with spouses who do not feel the same call (7).  The third and final section deals with fulfilling the call (III), including chapters on getting to the field (8), hindrances (9), challenges (10), missionary heroes (11), and understanding and answering the call (12).  After this there are acknowledgements, a glossary, notes, an extensive bibliography, as well as both a subject and scripture index.  If you are pulled towards missionary work and want some answers to your questions, this book is definitely a practical guide to read before signing up.

To be sure, this book is written by someone from the Southern Baptist tradition, and so the author focuses on the experience of those from his own faith community.  Many readers of this book will likely be very familiar with the missionary figures like Jim Eliot and others who the author returns to over and over again for their example.  If there is one area where I feel that this book could be done better it is explaining how the missionary impulse would be useful to believers in their own local communities.  The author seems to promote the idea that missionary work is something the author does away from home, rather than simply the way that one deals with areas one happens to be that are not (yet) obedient to the will of God and subject to the recognized jurisdiction of His Kingdom.  Even so, these are minor quibbles, and something that the author could easily address in future books or essays.  By and large, the author manages to combine a scriptural and historical approach to the mission field and the work is certainly deeply thoughtful and practically based.  The author minces no words on the sort of issues faced by Americans who wish to serve as missionaries abroad, and readers would do well to take him seriously.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/09/28/so-youre-a-missionary-then/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2010/11/18/the-missionary-approach-of-t...

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/12/11/the-most-awkward-missionary-...

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/03/02/book-review-missionary-methods/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/03/20/book-review-life-on-mission/