Audrey Featherstone, I Presume – Book Review

Audrey Featherstone, I Presume
Author:  Tim Shenton
Publisher:  Evangelical Press
ISBN:  9780852346785

Book Review by Paul Tanner, Researcher, Redcliffe College.

This is the true story of Audrey Featherstone, who, inspired by the great pioneer missionaries, acted upon God’s calling to serve as a missionary in the Congo from 1946 for 25 years with the ‘Regions Beyond Missionary Union’.

Audrey, a product of a broken home and difficult family circumstances, lived through the blitz years during which she became a Christian. Having little or no close family or friendship support as a young lady she struggled to grow in her faith in post-war London. Despite this we read how God brought her through these trials and equipped her to become a ‘great’ Congo missionary who, amongst many other difficulties, remained in Congo for much of the Simba uprisings (a backlash against all things western that led to thousands of deaths including many Christian missionaries in the country).

This biography was penned by Tim Shenton, based on his interviews with Audrey (now in her late eighties). It will greatly challenge younger generations of church goers, who may have relegated the more elderly Christians into the bracket of ‘relics’ who are not at the challenging and cutting edge of life in the church or mission. Audrey clearly demonstrates this is not the case as not only is she still an active worker for God but in her youth had been a pioneer, right on the sharp end of that cutting edge. She has faced many of the same challenges that today’s overseas missionaries face, and then some.

Whilst a fairly thorough yet brief account I found myself wanting greater insight into Audrey’s feelings, especially once she had arrived in Congo. From giving a good depth of detail around Audrey’s feelings and personal struggles prior to Congo, once she arrives the account has more of a  superficial narrative focus, lacking that depth of insight into her thoughts, feelings and struggles. I feel the biography is poorer as a result; it becomes harder for the reader to relate to her, and there is a danger that readers may feel inadequate, perceiving her as a ‘superwoman’ beyond our hopes to emulate.

Despite this the book is a good read that will be enjoyed by young and old alike. It is a great way to learn more about the challenges of Christian mission and the Congo. It will also greatly encourage and challenge readers, especially by how God can take even the most unlikely of people, in the most difficult of circumstances, and use them powerfully in the work of His Kingdom… if they are prepared to give over their all to Him.

Buy Audrey Featherstone, I presume? from St Andrew’s Bookshop.

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