Jesus Says Go
Author: Robin Wells
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Book Review by Joanne Appleton, Communications Officer, Redcliffe College.
Jesus Says Go is a revised and expanded version of Robin Wells’ earlier book My Rights, My God (Monarch, 2000). Wells states it is written “especially for those who …may be facing big decisions about their futures – possibly including long-term mission”, and it is an attempt to help readers count the cost of these decisions in the light of biblical principles.
The clear and simple style makes the book very accessible, and the use of many stories from former and current missionaries brings the issues discussed to life.
Jesus Says Go consists of three sections:
Part 1 – An exploration of the issues someone planning to go overseas might face. These include expectations in ministry; money and standards of living; facing danger; singleness, marriage and family; and children’s education.
Interlude – Seven ‘three minute reads’ on themes such as ‘building your world vision’, ‘getting ready to go’ and ‘short-term service’.
Part 2 – This section by Rose Dowsett looks at the missionary heart of God, from Eden to eternity.
A ‘last word’ by George Verwer and appendices giving details of mission agencies and bible colleges around the world complete the book.
Jesus Says Go should be one of the books anyone considering a missionary career overseas should read, with its practical exploration of the difficulties and sacrifices they may well face.
Part 2 is a particular highlight. Dowsett states that mission is ‘rooted in the character of God, not an optional extra’, adding that we simply cannot be authentic Bible-believing Christians and not be missionary Christians. She backs this up by taking her readers through the Bible and showing how God’s character and mission are inextricably bound together from Genesis to Revelation.
But it’s the fact we are all missionary Christians that causes me some problems with Part 1.
For Wells, mission appears to be mostly defined as going from the ‘culture of comfort’ in the West, to the rest of the world. All but one of the examples used are of people from affluent societies working in poorer countries. The single exception is a couple in Brussels with a ministry amongst international students.
You could argue this is valid, given the readership is most likely to be Westerners thinking about working abroad. But there are many examples of cross-cultural mission where the missionary stays in their own country, and works amongst an ethnic minority group for example, or lives in a deprived inner-city area such as the Eden project in Manchester, UK.
And what about people from Africa, Asia and Latin America who are involved in mission in the West? An Indian student recently told me he used to be very critical about people from his country leaving to do mission elsewhere, given the obvious needs in India. Now he has changed his mind, as his experience of living in the UK for a year has opened his eyes to the deprivation and spiritual poverty here.
My other concern is related to this. Because Jesus Says Go is particularly about working abroad, readers could be left with the impression that what Wells calls the ‘high call’ to the Lordship of Christ is primarily a ‘high call’ to mission overseas. If we feel called to remain where we are, is that a lesser call?
Yes, we do need more people willing to make the particular sacrifices involved in working in other countries. This book will be a great help to them as they consider God’s call on their lives.
However, we must recognise that for some people, the ‘full blooded discipleship’ mentioned at the end of Part 1 will mean following God’s prompting to talk to the teenagers who hang around outside their church building, or spending time with a neighbour they feel they have nothing in common with.
Jesus does indeed say ‘Go’ – to all of us. May we be challenged and encouraged to obey that call, whether it’s across the continents, or across the street.
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