Genre: Non-fiction, Missionary, Travel Journal, Gospel of the Kingdom
Rating: 5 Stars for Excellent
Source: Free copy from Crossway in exchange for a review. All opinions and feelings expressed are my own.
About the Series, Dispatches From The Front
An interview of Tim Keesee, from The Gospel Coalition by Trevin Wax
When I began reading Dispatches From The Front, I did not know I would be deeply affected and changed by its stories.
I was drawn to the story, because it paints vividly the truth of Christ Jesus in a militant world opposed to Him, and all those who are His followers. I was drawn to the story, because it pushed me out of my safe American church worship style, and propelled me in to a seemingly foreign exotic style of unvarnished worship of Jesus. But, I did not realize until after I began reading the book, my heart would be wounded for those precious brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, who worship Him no matter the cost. I've been convicted by my western Christian churches argumentative stance on worship style, our petty view of what “we” think church should look and sound like.
Tim Keesee, “is the founder and executive director of Frontline Missions International, which for the past twenty years had served some of the world's most difficult places.” He is the author of a DVD documentary series of the same title, Dispatches From The Front.
An equally powerful foreword by Justin Taylor, and prologue by Tim Keesee, had me hooked from the start. They both spoke of the kingdom's advancement in a world that is hostile to the good news of Jesus Christ, it is both startling in the terror inflicted upon Christians, and yet marvelous because the power of God's Spirit is at work. I was reminded of a verse from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians: “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. ESV.
The book is presented by countries Tim Keesee traveled to: Russia, Siberia, Uzbekistan, Balkan region, China, Cambodia, Philippines, India, Pakistan, Liberia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq.
Many of the areas where Christians meet are remote, secretive, and a few had never met an American man.
Stories are shared of Christians who walk long distances (sometimes barefoot), to meet with other Christians for worship, or to spread the gospel message.
Keesee reflects on missionaries from the past who left their safe homes for a foreign world never to return to family and friends, they “poured out” their lives to the calling of God, to teach and preach the gospel to the world.
I was given an insight and perspective of the living conditions in these areas, including how Keesee ate and slept, and endured the environment.
In his travel in and out of Afghanistan, I don't think I took a breath.
In the news we hear often of radical Islam, but not of the Christians living in Muslim countries.
I was moved by a quote from a Christian living in a Muslim dominated area, “The world is more willing to receive the gospel than Christians are willing to give the gospel.”
Most of the countries Keesee visited have been scarred by war. Horrific mass killings and torture of any people opposed to radical fractions have gone on for generations. However, when Christians are together they do not focus on their abuse; instead, they “praise God for allowing them to suffer for Him.”
Dispatches From The Front, is a culmination of Keesee's travels in to the “difficult” places, but I could not help but ask: what is God trying to teach me in this book? This is not a book to be read and then placed on a book shelf. It is a book that challenges the reader, not necessarily to physically travel to faraway destinations, but to have the mindset and faith that God will place me in a position and among people who must hear the gospel message. We fear how our family and friends and neighbors would react to our sharing with them the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet, Christians living in areas of the world where it is illegal and dangerous to be a Christian, share the gospel even if the cost is their life. May we be dramatically challenged and changed by the Holy Spirit's work in our own lives, which compel us and direct us to share Jesus Christ with a lost world.