The Soul of Mission: Perspectives on Christian Leadership, Spirituality and Mission in East Asia – Book Review

The Soul of Mission: Perspectives on Christian Leadership, Spirituality and Mission in East Asia
Editor:  Tan Kang-San
Publisher:  Pustaka Sufes. Sdn. Bhd.
ISBN  9832762065
ISBN 13  9789832762065

Book Review by Tim Davy, Reviews editor for Encounters.

Published in appreciation of Dr David Gunaratnam, a well-loved and respected leader in the church in Malaysia, The Soul of Mission is a collection of essays written on the themes of spirituality, leadership, history and mission in an East Asian context.

The scope of the book is impressive, dealing as it does with such a wide variety of topics. This is best demonstrated by listing the articles, which fit into four main sections:

Section 1. What is True Spirituality? Some Thoughts
1) David Gunaratnam: Quiet Leadership – Wong Fong Yang; 2) Spirituality: Some Thoughts on Culture, Context and History – Rose Dowsett

Section 2. Biblical Perspectives: Leadership, Spirituality and the Corinthian Correspondences
3) No Mission Without Holiness – Allan Webb; 4) The Servant of the Lord and Mission Leadership: Reflections from Isaiah 49:1-7 – David Pickard; 5) Mission and Spirituality: Lessons from 1 Corinthians – Jim Chew; 6) Is There A Place For Suffering In Mission? – Perspectives from Paul’s Sufferings in 2 Corinthians – Lim Kar Yong 7) Trying to Preach in Context: Some Reflections from 2 Corinthians – “Matthew”

Section 3. Historical Perspectives: Past Models and Present Challenges
8) The Moravians: A Model of Spirituality and Mission for the Asian Church – Peter Rowan; 9) Revitalization, Renewal and Missions: A Case Study on Sidang Injil Borneo – Gary Roosma; 10) Mongolians: Their Journey of Faith – Kwai Lin Stephens; 11) Robert Morrison – The Trailblazer and Beyond: Following One Trail of Christian Medical Service in China – James H. Taylor III; 12) D. E. Hoste: The Spirituality of a Servant Leader – Patrick Fung; 13) The Spirituality of Wang Mingdao – Paul Woods

Section 4. Programmatic Proposals for the Future of East Asian Church and Mission
14) The Multicultural Congregation: A Critical Model for the Future of Asian Christianity – Bruce Milne; 15) Leadership or Servanthood? – Hwa Yung; 16) Rethinking the Meaning of the Cross for Christian Discipleship – Tony Lim; 17) Transforming Conversion: From Conversion to Transformation of Culture – Tan Kang-San

Reading The Soul of Mission, you get the feeling that it has been a labour of love for the contributors. The articles are well conceived and written, and the reader is exposed to a variety of themes and issues important not just in an Asian context, but on a global scale too.

Particular highlights for this reviewer included the chapters on the history of Christianity in Mongolia and the Moravians as a model for spirituality and mission. These illustrate nicely the breadth of interests in the book. Similarly, the papers on the cross and discipleship and transforming conversion provoked my thinking on a couple of hot topics in mission thinking; namely, generational issues and contextual Christian identity and discipleship.

I am by no means a specialist in East Asian mission and must confess I was not previously aware of Dr. Gunaratnam, the honouree of this Festschrift. Nevertheless, I found The Soul of Mission to be a helpful, informative and thought-provoking read that deserves to be read widely.

Buy The Soul of Mission: Perspectives on Christian Leadership, Spirituality and Mission in East Asia from St Andrew’s Bookshop.

Back to Issue 23

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