Book 1: "Let the Nations be Glad" by John Piper (by the way, if anyone knows how to underline on blogger, let me know... my inner English teacher is screaming that I can't properly underline a book title here...) Subtitled "The Supremacy of God in Missions," this book took me a long time to really get rolling in, because it feels like nearly every sentence is another thesis. However, it was VERY good in that it very clearly outlines the remaining need for missions throughout the world. Mr. Piper lays out the case for pioneering missions, citing manifold verses from throughout Scripture which say that every nation, tribe, people and language will be represented before the throne of God in the new heaven and new earth. If every nation, tribe, people, and language are to be represented in heaven, then our primary task in missions is to reach every nation, tribe, people and language. As each of these different types of groups is reached, then the newly established churches ought to work to reach all the individuals in their purview.
Some might assume that the task of pioneering missions isn't that great, thinking, "What's the big deal? The whole world knows about Jesus." Wrong. According to the Lutheran Bible Translators webpage, of the 6,912 languages spoken on planet Earth, only 429 have a complete Bible in the language. This means that 6,483 languages have only partial access to the Bible. In fact, there are 4,486 languages with NO TRANSLATED PART of the Bible! And in English we have more than 20 different translations. Of course Bible translation isn't the only point of pioneering missions, but if they have no access to Scripture, it is quite difficult to know Jesus and His saving work. How many of those nearly 4,500 languages without Scripture are also languages where our Savior's name remains unspoken?
Book 2: "Peace Child" by Don Richardson. Mr. Richardson was a missionary to Netherlands New Guinea (today Papua New Guinea) in the 1960s. He went to tell about Jesus to a tribe of "stone age" people. These people, the Sawi, were cannibals in whose society, the highest virtue was treachery and "fattening with friendship." This refers to the high honor given to those who were able to deceive their enemies into trusting a friendship, and then, when the victim's guard was down, to strike, killing and cannibalizing the victim. Because of their vengefulness and deceit, this people was broken into many small villages which had long standing feuds between them. The only way to stop the warring and treachery was for a "peace child" to be given. This meant that one man from each village had to give his son in exchange for a son of the other village. The fathers would exchange names and this peace child would be protected more fiercely than the biological children of the village, because maintenance of peace depended entirely on the life of the peace child. If the child died, his parental village had the right of vengance.
The incredible way which God prepared even such a barbaric people for the Good News of the ultimate Peace Child, Jesus Christ gripped me as I read. WE were at war with God, and He gave us His Peace Child, His ONLY Son. And we even killed the peace child, an offense which, for the Sawi, would mean retribution. But with God, it meant the guarantee of peace. Because He had given us His Peace Child, the war would NEVER start again-- He kept His word, even when justified in taking His retribution on His enemies: us. INCREDIBLE book. How many other unreached peoples are out there, into whose cultures God has already woven the material needed to clearly point to His Son and His salvation?
Book 3: "Shadow of the Almighty" by Elisabeth Elliot. Mrs. Elliot compiled journal entries and letters of Jim Elliot with letters written to him in order to give the reader a fuller picture of her husband who gave "what he [could] not keep to gain what he [could] not lose" (the most famous quotation from Mr. Elliot, quite possibly the most famous missionary of the 20th century). The passion which Jim exhibited throughout his life for the Lord, for obedience to His will, and for Gospel proclamation to those who had never heard of his Savior is simply overwhelming. I pray that I might have even a fraction of Elliot's passion and single-mindedness in following his Lord where He led.
I am currently reading yet another missions book, "Chasing the Dragon" by Jackie Pullinger. I'm only a few pages into it, but I have a feeling that it's going to be another story in which God's power for saving people is put on display. I'm sure that it will make my jaw drop and my heart beat faster for the cause of those who don't know my incredible Savior. I sure hope so.
Please pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send out laborers into His fields! They are, after all, ripe for the harvest! Pray that Christ will continue to do His work of saving for Himself an inheritance from all the nations, tribes, peoples and languages of the earth. Pray that He will continue to make peace with His enemies and snatch lost and dying sinners from the clutches of sin, death, and Satan.
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7:9-10