BOOKS TO MAKE YOU PONDER
BOOKS TO MAKE YOU PONDER
The Orders of Service from the Thanksgiving service, and for the service for the burial of ashes, are included as Appedices in John Stott's Right Hand.
Tributes from the Thanksgiving service (by Mark Labberton, Heidi Cooper, Julia Cameron and Matthew Smith) may be viewed on YouTube.. The full text of the tribute from Eidi Cruz-Valdivieso may be found in the expanded and updated edition of the biography.
The full text of tributes from David Gallagher and Viv Drake are below.
Tribute from David Gallagher
Delivered at the Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Thomas, Bovey Tracey
It was in 2001, around the time of John Stott’s 80th birthday, that I had the chance to meet Frances properly. We were staying at The Hookses whilst John and Frances were in residence. Many of you will recall that John’s study in the Hermitage was strictly out of bounds for regular visitors, particularly for families with small children. However they joined us for meals in the main house and we quickly became aware that Frances was queen of the Hookses, often to be seen working outside, sometimes gardening between stints in the office, trim in a smart shirt and jeans, responsible in every way for The Hookses’ smooth running and upkeep and, as ever, protective of John to ensure that his highly structured days were undisturbed.
John’s 80th birthday had resulted in many generous donations, and on one of those mornings Frances came to me to say that Uncle John would like to have a chat. I didn’t know what to expect, but it soon transpired that he was thinking about using these gifts to fulfil his vision for the future of The Hookses and needed an architect to help refurbish and extend the property. Thus started a friendship with them both which, as it transpired, lasted almost twice as long with Frances. This friendship with Frances became for me one of life’s great blessings.
By the time the initial design work on The Hookses was ready, Matthew Smith had become the new Study Assistant and we embarked on a series of memorable meetings in John’s London study where I would present proposals to the happy triumvirate. Whilst John took a keen interest in all aspects of the work, it was Frances I most often had to agree the detail with. For over 40 years she’d largely run The Hookses, and knew everything there was to know, including builders, tradesmen, paying the bills, organising DIY groups, emptying the septic tank, ordering the heating fuel, etc, etc.
During the ensuing building work The Hookses became a building site and couldn’t be occupied. I’d often travel down from London for my Friday morning site meetings with the builder by leaving after work on Thursday evening and driving down the M4 as far as I could before pulling in for the night at a motorway hotel, proceeding to The Hookses the following morning.
Towards the end of the project Frances suggested she’d like to join me on one of my site visits to allow us to drive around Pembrokeshire together to select furniture for the new extension. She had done the 250-mile drive from London to The Hookses many, many times over the preceding 40 years and, as I well knew by then, had a fairly set routine on when to set out and where to stop.
Yet here she was entrusting herself to me at the end of a working day, without any accommodation awaiting us at The Hookses, and relying on, as yet un-booked accommodation en route. I reassured her that I always found accommodation without booking, and not to worry. I envisaged pulling in somewhere around halfway, perhaps just into Wales beyond the Severn Bridge. I think Newport was the first place we tried, but surprisingly it was full. No worries I thought, but then Cardiff was also full. Slightly concerned, I rang ahead to check Bridgend and Swansea, but they were also full. They told me there was a big event on which I should have known about and suggested we try Llanelli but as we couldn’t get through to them on the phone, drove on. It was now getting late and the prospect of sharing a night in the car with Frances was beginning to loom. I thought she might be getting a little apprehensive at this stage but not a bit of it. Our conversation continued to flow with lots of laughs. My apologies at our plight were met with comments such as ‘how exciting’ and ‘what an adventure’ it was turning out to be.
Llanelli turned out to be full too, so there was just one more Travelodge before Dale… In some trepidation I pulled into St Clears and went up to the desk. It was approaching 11pm and Frances and I were quite reconciled by then to sharing a room, at best. They said there were no rooms except one with a broken lock, which meant it couldn’t be used, and a fully disabled room which they didn’t offer to normal customers. I eventually persuaded them to give us both rooms, Frances got the unlocked one and I settled into a high, disabled bed with various pulleys and grab rails at hand. Frances thought the whole thing was hilarious and the rest of our little trip was a barrel of laughs as we contemplated what might have been if we hadn’t found a place to stay.
The whole episode just served to show another wonderful side of Frances, her adaptability, her generosity, her spontaneous good humour, qualities that Uncle John must have appreciated so much along with all her other well-documented and myriad gifts. It ensured the rest of our little trip did indeed feel like an exciting adventure and simply served to strengthen our friendship.
Frances was always thinking of how best to serve John. One episode during the building works well illustrates this. Though John was very keen to upgrade The Hookses to be more comfortable for others, he was as always totally selfless when it came to his own creature comforts. His bedroom up till then had been little more than an alcove off his study and he was quite happy to maintain the status quo. Frances however was keen to upgrade it to a proper bedroom with en suite shower room, and she conceived a strategy that she felt was the best way to convince John to accept it. This was to say that it was for his successor. This slightly conspiratorial tactic worked a treat and Frances was delighted that, as a result, John’s remaining years at the Hookses were spent in relative luxury.
Frances left a lasting effect on those knew her, and I feel privileged and blessed to have known this extraordinary woman who, in her quintessentially English, no-nonsense approach, radiated Christ’s love in a deeper way than just about anyone else I’ve met. I loved the unselfconscious and typically matter of fact way she introduced Christ into a conversation, it always seemed completely natural and unforced. ‘Have you read this book?’ or ‘What bible passage are you particularly enjoying at present?’ After decades of Christ being at the centre of her life it just flowed out of her. It had a profound effect on me and so many of us, and we give thanks to God for her.
Tribute from Viv Drake, next-door neighbour in Bourne End
Delivered at the funeral in High Wycombe Crematorium
It is with great sadness that I find myself writing a tribute to Frances, or the ‘Lady at number 5’ as so many people called her. I have known Frances for over 30 years. She was a strong, independent, intelligent woman, interested in everyone and everything. Many of you who have read about Frances and know her will be aware of the dedication and energy she put into her life.
Frances loved animals and shared a wonderful story about learning to walk by holding onto the whiskers of ‘Prince’ the family Old English Sheepdog. Getting out her photo album she would proudly show photos of this magnificent dog whom she loved dearly and who helped her take the first steps in life.
I am pleased to give you a little taste of her Bourne End life, I am sure you will hear her voice in your head, and it will make you smile.
In the later years of her life Frances retired to her home in Bourne End, where she enjoyed friendship, help and respect in the small community known as Abbeymead. Frances loved her home, where she had looked after her mother for many years with the help of Colleen, who was a great friend and support to Frances.
We would chat to her as she prepared her meals with the kitchen door open, and she would join us at House Parties and Street Parties. Last year was the first year she didn’t feel up to coming out, so we went to her. ‘Don’t make a fuss’ she said. ‘Now, what have we got to eat?’ Hot dogs, champagne and strawberries were delivered, and a clean plate was returned. Frances was happy to be a food tester for new recipes. When asked, ‘How was that Frances?’ she would say, ‘I’m not sure. Can I have another piece?’ or ‘Let’s try again tomorrow and see if it’s as good as today.’
When she was still driving, we would find ourselves running after her car with a walking stick, handbag or a wing mirror she had left behind on her way out of the garage, and she would always ask – ‘Is that mine? Where did you get it from?’ She would laugh and say ‘Good job you’re here,’ and zoom off.
Frances did eventually realise she needed more help, but was more worried about a neighbour than herself, popping out to check on Olive. She was reluctant to ask at first but relieved when someone arrived to sort out a problem. When calling in to help or deliver something, she would ask me, ‘What are you doing here and why are you being so kind to me? I don’t want to make a fuss.’ We would remind her, now and again it’s nice to accept a little help from someone. Especially as you have been helping and looking after people all your life, it’s your turn now,’ and she would always smile and say ‘Thank you, I don’t deserve so much kindness.’
There are so many people who cared for Frances and she touched their souls, only accepting help when absolutely needed. So, let’s pay tribute to the people that supported Frances in the later years of her life. Referring to the them as ‘Team Frances’ these people brought comfort and care, and loved Frances at a time when she needed it most.
Rose was her best friend. It has been a pleasure to welcome Rose to Bourne End. She trusted us to help Frances. Colleen was a great support, keeping the garden Frances loved immaculate, ready for all the visiting birds that brought her so much joy, and helping with shopping, cooking and travel when required. Colleen was always at the end of the phone and I am sure has many stories of her own.
Emily and Matthew, who cared and helped Frances with many things; trusted, kind friends who always had Frances’s best interests at heart. Julia who wrote a fantastic account of Frances’s life, drove over at the weekends to offer support and company for Frances, and shared Christmas with her last year.
Roger was her go-to person when things broke down, and solved lots of problems for her, rescuing her when the stairlift broke down which was a regular task for him. She would call him from the bedroom window, advising him that she was stuck and needed him to mend the thing. When she was in hospital she asked if Roger could come over and take her home.
When more care was required, Frances looked forward to visits from Jackie, Heidi, Jane, Louisa, Malayo, Kaye, Kim, Lauren, Sarah and Ginny. They were all so kind, patient and loyal to Frances. Special thanks to them for all they did.
Elizabeth joined ‘Team Frances’ bringing with her compassionate care and companionship for Frances, which gave her a great boost. Frances enjoyed jigsaws, scrabble and cosy nights watching television with Ginger the cat on her lap. Frances welcomed Elizabeth into her life immediately; she was safe, cared for, comfortable and happy.
During her stay in hospital Elizabeth was by her side every day, encouraging her to eat and drink, promising her she will be going home. When that day came, we all held our breath as the Ambulance brought her home, with Elizabeth holding her hand all the way. The promises made had been fulfilled, and when Ginger the cat appeared the day was perfect for Frances. In the place she loved, surrounded by her friends and cared for by Elizabeth. Elizabeth did an amazing job and I know everyone is so grateful to her for everything she did for Frances.
Frances brought us all together, laughed with us and will continue to bring a smile to our faces when we think of her.re your customers raving about you on social media? Share their great stories to help turn potential customers into loyal ones.
The book you hold in your hands is dangerous. If you hope to glean its insights, you must forget everything you have been taught about personal power leading to effective leadership. Confidence, charisma, and chutzpah count for little in God's Kingdom. I learned this the hard way.
Let me share a little of my story. Many would say that I am a key global leader in international disability concerns; however, I remember a time when I disliked every person I knew who had a disabling condition. From the militant activist who chained himself to a city bus, to the wheelchair students on my college campus who whined over every injustice. I disliked them all. The odd thing was, I was a wheelchair user, too.
My problem was with my own disability. I didn’t like it. Being among others who had impairments only underscored my own weaknesses and frailties. That made things worse. My attitude started to change as I began spending more time in God’s Word. I was stunned to see the degree to which Jesus loved those who were weak and frail, including the blind, the lame, and those who were paralyzed like me. I heard him whisper, ‘Joni, these are the people I want you to serve. Lead them, just as I am leading you.’ I did not like hearing that directive.
Yet the more time I spent in the Bible, the more I was impressed with the humility of Christ and his deep affection for the least, the last, and the lost. Especially those with disabilities. They followed him because they knew he cared. They followed him because he led with grace, humility, and wisdom. They followed him because he changed their lives. These became reasons I wanted to follow him too.
Jesus — the greatest leader who walked the earth — avoided the power brokers and the movers-and-shakers, to pour his energy and effort into the weak, the lame, the ill-equipped, unskilled and untrained. The surprising thing? These unlikely men and women became his greatest leaders.
This gave me a new perspective on my wheelchair. It also helped me see why God wanted me to serve him in the disability community. God takes great delight in deliberately choosing weak and unlikely candidates – such as I was – to get his work done. There can be no occasions for boasting. No hints of superiority. And no suggestions to those we lead that ‘your opinion is not needed here’. When people acknowledge their limitations, God gives glorious and liberating freedom – freedom not to hog the spotlight, not to commandeer discussion, and not to insist on getting things your way. When people acknowledge their weakness, God releases them to lead in the best sense of the word.
Dan Allender has wisely said, ‘The leaders God chooses are more broken than strong; more damaged than whole; and more troubled than secure.’ God takes great joy in pouring his power, wisdom and understanding into people who truly rely on him. Thus, the most effective leaders do not rise to power despite their weakness; they lead with God-blessed power because they recognize their weakness.
How do we know when spiritual leaders are effective? They have followers who are passionate and committed. Like Jesus, these leaders effectively cast a vision— yet they feel no qualms about ‘rolling their sleeves up’ or getting down on their hands and knees to model the vision. Jesus cast a remarkable vision in Luke 14:13-14. ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors... But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled.’ No one better modeled that vision than Christ himself.
You will learn this style of leadership from the remarkable contributions in this book. The Leadership Files is a repository of sage guidance and tested principles. D E Hoste’s wisdom has lain undiscovered by recent generations and I am delighted to see it made available again. John Stott and Ajith Fernando bear the unmistakable marks of humility and heartfelt service, and have long been recognized as key influencers in the global Kingdom of God. Vaughan Roberts, Willy Kotiuga, and Fred Catherwood provide deep leadership insights, as well, honed and shaped by their faith, convictions, and their unyielding passion to lead like Jesus.
I'm especially grateful to my friend Julia Cameron who has compiled and edited their timeless lessons. Julia has taken great pains to preserve enduring principles which will help all who long to grasp their Savior’s gift for casting a vision, modeling it, and motivating followers who, in turn, will lead others. The Appendix on Governance holds much distilled wisdom for all who serve on Boards. Younger readers – remember it’s here, as you may be called to take such responsibility in years to come.
I must say one more thing. Decades have passed since the days I was ashamed of my wheelchair. My love now is very great for people with disabilities, those I used to scorn when I was first injured. I answered the vision God gave me. As a result, he placed me on the National Council on Disability to contribute to the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. He also placed me on the US State Department’s Disability Advisory Committee under Condoleezza Rice. He gave me the opportunity to serve with Lausanne as Senior Catalyst on Disability Concerns. And I still provide leadership to Joni and Friends, a ministry which serves the global disability community in the name of Christ. Your story will be different from mine, but for both of us, if we are willing, God will use us.
So, take a deep breath and get ready to flip the page of this dangerous book. Prepare yourself to learn a fresh, new way of bringing influence from a selected few of the Kingdom’s most respected leaders. Get ready to cast God’s vision, as well as to model it. And do not be ashamed of your brokenness and weakness – it is your pathway to leading with wholeness and in his strength.
Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni and Friends International Disability Center
Only a hard heart would be unmoved in thinking of the way the Lord Jesus wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane till drops ‘as of blood’ fell from his brow. But if we reflect on those hours only in a devotional manner, we miss the point. We must probe the deep questions: ‘Why did he suffer? What is the meaning of the agony?’ As soon as we begin to explore the why question, we find new vistas. We see our own conversion to Christ in a new perspective – for we see it in the context of his plan for the whole world. As we do this, we find our love for him being given a firmer basis, a doctrinal foundation – building such a foundation for our faith is the best and truest way of keeping our love for him alive.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all give a detailed account of Christ’s agony in the Garden, but John does not even mention it. Why not? Perhaps he did not feel it necessary. To John, the whole of our Lord's life on earth was suffering. Right from the beginning, his death on the cross was on his mind. For John it was humiliation and indeed agony that the Son of God should have condescended to become a man. Gethsemane was just one expression of that agony. Throughout his gospel John stresses the glory of the Son of God. To John all Christ's life on earth – including his suffering – is infused with his glory. John’s profound and wonderful perspective provides a key as we consider the Cross.
John and Luke both emphasise that Jesus went into the Garden often. He was moving willingly towards his death and was not trying to hide; Judas would know exactly where to find him.
When he was ready to leave the Garden, he said ‘Rise, let us go’ not to escape his foes, but rather to meet them. He was on his way to die. His death was not something he suffered so much as something he accomplished. He chose when he would be betrayed, tried, and crucified. ‘What you are about to do, do quickly’, he said to Judas, as if to say ‘This is the time which I have appointed for you to do your dire deed.’
Christ’s terrible temptation
As we know from Genesis 3, Adam sinned when he was tempted in the Garden of Eden. Christ is the ‘second Adam’, and he triumphed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He did not draw back from the suffering which awaited him, but like a King serving on the front line, he advanced to face the enemy.
Adam was tempted in Eden; and Jesus was tempted in Gethsemane. It is important for us to grasp that Christ fought with temptation; it was a real issue for him. We are told by the writer to the Hebrews that he ‘has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.’ So there must have been the possibility for him of drawing back, and not dying for the sins of the world.
He had fought with temptation to Messiah-ship without a cross in the wilderness. (The same temptation had come again through Peter at Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus said, ‘Out of my sight, Satan’.) Luke tells us ‘the devil left him until an opportune time’ - he was to return in all his terrible force in Gethsemane. Sometimes the most intense temptation can come before the crisis that brings blessing, as we may know from our own experience; we see that happening here.
What was the cause of Christ’s dreadful agony in the Garden? He did not fear physical death; not even the horrible death of crucifixion. Many believers have faced such death, calmly and fearlessly. The spiritual burden he carried - bearing the sin of the world - is what appalled his spirit. Christ’s death would not symbolize, but actually materializehuman guilt. This explains the intensity of his feelings and the words the gospel writers use to explain them - ‘sorrowful and troubled’, ‘deeply distressed and troubled’, ‘overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’.
The expression rendered ‘deeply distressed and troubled’ probably comes from a Greek root meaning ‘away from home’. Certainly, for our Lord Jesus, it was the beginning of the horror of great darkness that would end in his cry of sheer dereliction, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
‘May this cup be taken from me’
While in Gethsemane we see Christ shrinking from his suffering, but the Apostle John records him as saying, ‘Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?' He delighted to do the Father's will, yet he naturally shrank from the awful agony of separation from God.
There is no contradiction between Christ’s desire to do his Father’s will, while also shrinking from it.
In the book of Leviticus we read of the burnt offering (a ‘sweet-savour offering’ of an unblemished animal) presenting a beautiful aroma to the LORD. But there is also a ‘sin offering’, a different kind of sacrifice, where the animal’s blood substitutes for human sin. Here is the essence of atonement.
All this foreshadows what now becomes real, and ultimate, in the offering andsacrifice of Christ himself. He offers to the Father a perfect life without blemish, in sheer devotion, for the Father’s pleasure. And he becomes, in our place, the sacrifice for sin. This is the double truth captured in Thomas Binney’s lovely hymn:
There is a way for man to rise
To that sublime abode:
An offering and a sacrifice,
A Holy Spirit's energies,
An advocate with God.
In the Garden he knew he had to accept it, if atonement were to be made, yet as he is dying on the cross the following afternoon he cries out ‘Why have you forsaken Me?’ Christ’s awareness of what was happening had become clouded. In the dereliction of cutting himself off from God, our Saviour had cut himself off from light; here was the heart of his agony. To go through it knowing everything would turn out well would not have reached into the depths of our sinful nature; he had to forego that knowledge. For not only did he bearour sin for us, but he was made sin for us:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Of all the descriptions of the Atonement in scripture, this is surely one of the most graphic. It comes at the close of perhaps the most profound exposition ever of suffering and glory. It is just not possible to skate onto the next chapter without a deep sense of wonder at the depth of Christ’s love.
Fierce, costly love
In Gethsemane Jesus turned to his disciples in his very human suffering seeking human solace. As the Psalmist had written: ‘Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none’. How much the memory of Mary of Bethany's anointing must have meant to him. Evidently she understood. On Calvary as the Son of God lost the last consciousness of his Father's love and presence, our forgiveness would be won.
In the Lord's final words in the Garden he tells his disciples to sleep on, then seems immediately to ask them to wake up as it is time to leave. We can assume that some hours passed in between; hours in which Christ sat watching over them as they slept. What a picture of love when he was in need. As the Psalmist wrote, ‘He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep’. It is a strangely peaceful scene as Christ thinks thoughts of love beyond human expression - fierce, costly love - revealing the longing heart of God. This is the message of Gethsemane. And this was the scene on which Judas and the Roman soldiers arrived, so Judas could betray Jesus.
This is an unusual volume. Two writers look at the same passages from the Apostle Paul, and draw out complementary principles on handling money. John Stott focuses on Paul’s teaching on giving, Chris Wright on accountability. I can testify to the personal integrity of both authors; and to their deep desire not only to live by these principles, but to share them in a relevant way with God’s people around the world.
We need to see our giving as a response to God’s own generosity. There is a pastoral feel to John Stott’s writing – sometimes, as he says, it may be right to reduce our giving. We should always give thoughtfully, and keep our giving under review.
Churches tend to associate Paul’s teaching here only with a call to give. I hope this short book will help to change that, for these scriptures teach much more. The six principles of accountability that Chris Wright highlights are non-negotiable. A safety-net of accountability is critical for those in positions of responsibility, to whom money has been entrusted.
Many will be surprised by Chris’s assertion that, on the plain level of number of verses, the Apostle Paul ‘gives more text space to writing about issues relating to financial affairs of churches than he does to writing about justification by faith.’ The spiritual nature of this subject is clear, and the Apostle’s theology of money, as God-centred and mission-centred, deserves keen attention.
We shall all be shaped by either the values society imposes on us, or by the biblical principles clearly articulated here. So we need to consider Paul’s teaching closely. I commend the words of John Stott and Chris Wright as they challenge us to be more deliberate in engaging with this subject, as part of a God-focused, Christ-centred and spirit-led life.
Femi B Adeleye
Associate Director (Africa), Langham Partnership International
This book is a gem. It could be a lifesaver for someone in Christian ministry. I trust it will bring a welcome restoration for any who have lost their joy in the heat of the battle, or simply become worn down.
I'm sure it will provide a soothing balm for the honourably-wounded. I wish I had read it in my early twenties when I began in full-time ministry. I was inspired by the biographies of Robert Murray McCheyne, who died aged 29, Henry Martyn, who died at 31, and Jim Elliot, who was murdered aged 28. I was influenced by others who said they would rather 'burn out than rust out'. For my first four years in ministry as a young student worker, I thought days off and holidays were for wimps! So I filled my holidays with ministry opportunities in the UK and overseas.
Then something changed - I was given a sabbatical period for nine months and suddenly experienced exhaustion as I stopped the constant whirr of activity. Six people I had mentored became student workers, and also experienced some form of physical breakdown or health problems. It caused me to realize that I had provided a poor and inadequate model, and I needed to re-think. Later I saw that I had a deficient view of God as both a Father who lovingly cares for his children, and as a Creator, who gives his people all things richly and freely to be enjoyed.
There must be many Christians in ministry who behaved like me, adopting a sub-Christian and indeed rather platonic worldview, where the body is seen as being unimportant. Pablo Martinez provides a healthy antidote to that. The book is replete with choice statements and powerful principles, such as 'a fruitful ministry is not the same as a full ministry'; ‘the problem is not working too much, but resting (renewing) too little'; 'we are not human doings but human beings'; and ‘we must learn not only from Jesus’s doing, but also from his stopping’.
As I read this book I was reminded of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian elders, at the end of his last missionary journey. He was on his way to Jerusalem ‘not knowing what will happen [to him] there’. He sent a messenger to Ephesus, a full day’s journey away, to find the elders, and bring them to Miletus so he could meet with them before he sailed. The passage is highly-charged and very moving (Acts 20:17-38). The Apostle urges the elders to ‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (v28). Note the vital order of that command. This book is a perceptive commentary on those critical first four words.
Pablo Martinez is Spain's leading evangelical psychiatrist. In his mid-twenties, he made a choice which set the direction of his life. He had the opportunity of engaging in student ministry, or becoming Spain's first evangelical psychiatrist. He chose the latter and has been the means of blessing, help and deep-seated counsel to thousands. His previous books, like A Thorn in the Flesh and Praying with the Grain have been a source of great encouragement and help to many hard-pressed believers.
This book provides liberation for those who fail to appreciate the wonder of God's creation and the fatherly care for his children. More than that, it provides a wonderful sense of the wholeness which the Christian gospel brings to those who place their trust in Christ as Saviour, their dependence on God as Father and Creator, and who draw on the sustaining help and support of the Holy Spirit.
The strange paradox is that in Pablo's attempts to encourage readers to take care of their body and enjoy God’s creation, those who follow his advice will find that their joy in Christ and the gospel is deepened, and their commitment to serve in Christian ministry enhanced.
I am pleased, too, to see the Appendix on handling the past. Over the years I have met many students and Christian workers who carry deep burdens from their past. We have waited a long time for a chapter like this, which I’m sure will bring profound help.
For some, this book will be exhilarating, for others it will be liberating, and for many, it will be an eye-opener. My prayer is that for all readers it will be a source of enrichment and joy.
General Secretary, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) 1991 - 2007
International Director, Lausanne Movement 2008 - 2016
ANTIDOTE TO MAD BUSY
(Published in Evangelicals Now, January 2019)
Before I even opened this book I pondered: ‘Here’s another offering in the “avoiding burnout” category – we church workers really mustn’t be taking notice of the wise counsel of previous authors!’
But then again I still hear so many conversations, among both clergy and laity, that seem to make the ‘mad busy’ lifestyle a badge of honour. In a stark response to this potential idolatry of busyness, Pablo Martinez, a leading Christian psychiatrist based in Barcelona, states that to dismiss rest and fail to take care of ourselves is not only bad practice, it is an exercise of ungodliness and an expression of unholiness.
So while this book’s title may suggest it’s something to buy for your minister and staff team, I suggest you read it yourself first.
Using texts from both the Old and New Testaments, along with the honest ‘mistakes’ of well-loved Christian leaders of the more recent past, Martinez builds a strong and clear biblical framework for times of revitalising rest and intentional self-care. Recognising that rest is God’s design for us, that we are more fragile than we often admit, and that self-care is the responsibility of the maturing Christian, this brief and very practical book offers sage advice in five simple chapters packed with accessible insights and ‘do-able’ challenges. Very helpful reminders, if not necessarily new revelations.
Martinez concludes that paying close attention and taking care of yourself are commands of our loving Father which are part of what it means to live the abundant life that Jesus came to purchase for us. If our lives are now hidden with Christ in God that must include the necessary seasons of rest that are integral elements of that better quality of life we are called to experience. ‘The essence of rest lies in resting in God.’ (p.82)
Finally, the six-page appendix ‘Troubled by your past?’ is worth the price of the book all on its own.
You are about to read some remarkable stories. They will stay with you. I’m sure of that.
Don Cormack’s Killing Fields, Living Fields, from which these excerpts are taken, traces the story of the Cambodian church from its early beginnings among the rice farmers in the 1920s, through to the present day. It is a long book, and could seem daunting, but we hope this shorter book may make you want to read more.
Don Cormack is uniquely qualified to tell Cambodia’s story. He was one of the last missionaries to leave Phnom Penh when it fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, and one of the first to return afterwards. In between he spent time in the sprawling refugee camps which sprang up along the Thai border. Don learned Khmer, and his pastoral approach won the trust of those he met. Some were deeply traumatized and could tell him their stories only a little at a time, over weeks or months.
These cameos convey something of Cambodia’s tragic history from 1975-1979, when little news was coming out of the country. In that small land in south-east Asia, through darkness, and bloodshed, and fear, and sheer evil, we trace the hand of God. There has been unimaginable cruelty in many parts of the world, and one wonders how similar the experiences of Christians have been in other places.
It took 1900 years for the gospel to reach the Khmer people. When David Ellison, an American missionary, first gave a copy of Luke’s gospel to some simple Cambodian rice farmers in the 1920s, they were riveted. The truth took hold of their hearts. In such a deeply Buddhist culture, believers were shunned, despised and vulnerable. They were sometimes imprisoned, and always blamed when there was sickness in a village. It was tough to be a Christian.
Fifty years later, shortly before Pol Pot came to power, the Holy Spirit began to move in new ways. While threatening clouds were gathering over Cambodia in 1973, Major Taing Chhirc was following news closely from Edinburgh. After service in Lon Nol’s army, he was now in Scotland to study engineering. A spiritual awakening had begun, and Chhirc, perceptive and courageous, saw the need for Christians to be nurtured in their new faith. He sensed God's clear call to him from Luke 9:23-24 to return to Cambodia despite the huge dangers. There may, he knew, be little time. In July 1974 he alerted the UK’s Keswick Convention to pray. ‘You have had the Gospel for centuries,’ he said from the platform. ‘Why did you never come and tell us?’ His words were remembered by everyone there. Next, he travelled to Switzerland, where he represented the Cambodian Church at the historic Lausanne Congress. Then, leaving his wife in safety in Scotland, he flew back to Cambodia on his own. He travelled via Singapore to visit the OMF International Headquarters. Here he urged Michael Griffiths, OMF General Director, and his senior team, to send help.
The mission was at full stretch. Was it right to commit more resources to another endeavour? Who would go? Just a few months earlier, two women leprosy nurses in South Thailand had been kidnapped and murdered. Was it irresponsible to place missionaries in mortal danger? These were not easy matters. It was eventually agreed that only unmarried missionaries should be sent, so no children would be orphaned. It was further agreed that no-one should be required to go; there would be a call for volunteers.
Don Cormack was one of five OMF volunteers to enter Cambodia, leaving Taiwan where he was at the time studying Chinese. He arrived in Phnom Penh in October 1974, with no Khmer language, just months before having to fly out again. The country fell to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975 and Major Chhirc was martyred shortly after that.
‘Sharing in Christ’s sufferings’
Cambodian Christians learned more of what it means to share in Christ’s sufferings than most of us will ever know. And they had a deeper grasp of Christ in them, the hope of glory. They were more than conquerors; and nothing could separate them from the love of God. The story of their church, which, some fifty years after its founding, faced its own Neronian persecution, is a powerful modern-day commentary on the great New Testament themes of suffering and glory.
In the Preface to Killing Fields, Living Fields, Don sets out four reasons for writing the book. Listen to the second:
‘If Cambodian Christians today are aware of the faithfulness, the endurance, and the martyrdom of their spiritual mothers and fathers, I trust this will help keep them from playing fast and loose with the precious and eternal gospel which they have received intact; and which they are now called upon to live out, and pass on to others amid many of the same kinds of testing.’
The Reformation martyrs gave their lives for Christians in the West to receive that precious and eternal gospel ‘intact’. But today’s western church reflects a casual disregard both for doctrine and for biblical ethics — and we all too easily play fast and loose with the truth we have received. Is this another God-given opportunity to take stock of ourselves? Will we recognize it? Cambodia’s church history has given us an eloquent, costly, and persuasive apologetic for ‘guarding the gospel’. And this is not only for the church in the West, for surely it applies to the body of Christ right around the world.
Killing Fields, Living Fields is modern history, biography, missiology, church history, political analysis, and good English literature. It is the story of a church first planted in the early twentieth century, growing amid all the cross-currents of south-east Asian politics and economics. It is also a story of God’s providence. Parts are harrowing to read, and you may read much of it, as I did, with tears. These excerpts from it show that the transcendent presence of the living God is never withdrawn.
The most insistent question of the human heart in every age and culture is surely this: ‘Where is God in suffering?’ I believe the story of the Cambodian church shows the true answer to that question, and the only answer worth hearing for the troubled soul or the searching mind. It is simply this. ‘God is right there.’
We read in Isaiah that in all the Israelites’ affliction, God, too was afflicted; and in Peter’s pastoral epistle that ‘the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you, and make you strong, firm and steadfast.’ Our God, Emmanuel, is with us. He himself will tend to us. What an intimate picture of God, and how clearly we see it shown in these stories. He brings comfort, and heals the broken-hearted; more, he brings hope, and will, we are promised, ‘wipe away every tear from their eyes’. Comrade Duch
In May 1999, the Far Eastern Economic Review carried an article on a man called Kang Kek Ieu, more commonly known as Comrade Duch. His story was then picked up by newspapers around the world. Duch was the Khmer Rouge 'Grand Inquisitor' and chief executioner, responsible for the torture and deaths of several thousand Cambodians. He had his headquarters in the Tuol Sleng Detention Centre, where he made detailed records of the cruelty inflicted on his victims. For years, he had lain low in the countryside as a maths teacher. Aware that any public statement could lay him open to trial, he was now meeting with high profile journalists. What he said was unexpected and stunning. He had become a Christian.
Duch told the reporter that in 1993 he had begun to examine world religions. 'I wanted to know everything about Islam, Buddhism and Christianity,' he said. 'After my experience in life, I decided I must give my spirit to God.' From the New Testament Duch learned of the Apostle Paul, who described himself as 'the chief of sinners', and he reflected, 'My biography is something like Paul's.'
Duch's wife had been murdered by a bandit in 1995 and he was supported through this time by American Christians. In January 1996 he was baptized in Battambang River. After the article was published in 1999, he was arrested and thrust into solitary confinement until his eventual trial in 2010 for crimes against humanity. Here he was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2020. Duch would have loved Story 12, for he is another whom the Lord's 'everlasting arms' enfolded; living proof of God's almost unbelievable grace.
God is there to forgive those who are penitent, even men like Comrade Duch, who commit the worst imaginable genocide. What a gospel!
1999, and updated Lent 2022
Julia Cameron led communications and publishing endeavours for three global missions. She lives in Oxford where she now runs Dictum, a small independent publishing initiative.
In 1989, I was asked to address the participants of Lausanne II, the International Congress on World Evangelizationin Manila. The subject of my message centred on the church’s responsibility to give the gospel to ‘the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind,’ and I was excited with the prospects of awakening the Lausanne gathering to Jesus’ mandate in Luke 14. I knew instinctively that the need was greatest among churches and people with disabilities in countries like the Philippines. Back then, I had travelled to only a handful of less-developed nations. The needs in the Philippines focused my mind. I had never seen so many maimed and injured people dragging themselves along the dirty sidewalks, wearing flip-flops on their hands. I managed to make friends with many of them living in makeshift lean-tos between our hotel and the conference centre.
Most were paraplegics; some were blind, and a few were amputees. But none of these dear people had ever seen anyone like me. When I extended a greeting to them, gesturing awkwardly with my limp hand, they seemed hesitant to touch me. They stared wide-eyed, few of them having ever seen a quadriplegic who had no use of legs orarms. When I spoke to them about my love for Jesus, they seemed fascinated. I could almost read the thoughts behind their amazed expressions: How can this lady trust God the way she is?!
The same thing happened at the Manila Pastors’ Conference, an additional Lausanne convocation for several hundred Filipino Christian leaders. I shared with them the same Luke 14 message. Observing my obvious limitations, they seemed especially curious about my faith in Christ. During lunch break in the main hall, many watched my husband Ken feed me a hamburger. Again, I felt curious eyes examining us, and I could almost read their thoughts: How wonderful that God has made her so happy amidst such a difficult disability! How does she do it?
I was experiencing first-hand the power behind 2 Corinthians 4:7,10, ‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.… We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.’ The more obvious the weakness in the messenger, the more beautifully adorned is the gospel he shares! People with disabilities are the burning bushes spoken of in Exodus 3—we cause curious onlookers, even skeptical ones, to turn aside and ‘see this strange sight, why the bush is not burned up’ (Exodus 3:3). People with disabilities, especially missionaries with disabilities, make people hungry for the Bread of Life, and thirsty for the Living Water. They provoke the question Is God truly powerful enough to sustain his joy in a quadriplegic? I must find out more!
This shows exactly why people ‘who seem to be weaker are indispensable in the Body of Christ’ as together we strive to make Jesus known to an unbelieving world (1 Corinthians 12:22). To the natural eye, people with disabilities seem to be weaker; they seem to be the least likely candidates for Kingdom work. But to the spiritual eye—to those who value what God values—people with disabilities add depth, richness, and a platform for explosive power in Kingdom advancement.
To quote the editors of the book:
‘Herein lies the problem with the mission movement. We are inclined to assess our performance according to the standards of the secular world. This success-oriented approach can cause us to squeeze our potential missionaries into rigid molds in which they have to be intelligent, strong, agile, and have high energy: the Type A personality. This can mean that the mission movement selects only missionaries who have certain personality types, or alternatively it can tend to squeeze people who are different shapes into the same mold.
When applying the world’s standards of success we therefore discount people who are different, who can’t be squashed into an ableist mold. Almost by definition, people with disability will not fit into an ableist mold, and nor should they. The stories you will read in the following pages are of missionaries who do not fit that mold.’
The book you hold in your hands is vitally important to the church and its mission movement. Its stories of people with impairments are the proof-text for 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. They are modern-day validations of the need for Christian workers on the field whose disabilities adorn the gospel. I appeal to leaders in agencies and denominations to consider what I believe to be a compelling case for selecting and training qualified people with disabilities for mission work. It is an idea whose time is long overdue—especially considering that our preeminent example is the apostle Paul himself!
So, enjoy the stories, consider the arguments, study the Scriptures, and start asking questions. Ask how you can enlist, and even exploit, people’s limitations for the glory of God on the mission field. Do you lead a mission agency, a denomination, or a church? Are you a wheelchair-user seeking to hold out the gospel in places where most say, ‘You can’t go there’? This book is your guide to taking next steps in inviting God’s all-surpassing power to explode through your mission or church outreach!
Turn the next page, and let the adventure begin.
Joni Eareckson Tada
Lausanne Board Member
CEO/Joni and Friends International Disability Center