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(Review) The Insanity of Obedience: Walking With Jesus In Tough Places by Nik Ripken

Publisher: B and H Books, January 1, 2014.
Genre: Non-fiction, persecuted Church, missiology.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 336.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
Source: Free copy from B and H Books in exchange for a review.

Barnes and Noble
Christian Book

The Insanity of God. My review from February 22, 2013.
All Christians are called to,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20. NKJV. 
I believe that most Christians think it is only a select few who are called to "Go therefore." The thought of leaving our comfortable safe society, and traveling to an unknown and unsafe place, is daunting and frightening.
The Insanity of Obedience, educates Christians in Western society by defining what it is really like for a Christian in an Eastern society. Further, how we can best share the gospel and minister to a person living in an Eastern society.
A strong element in the book is on suffering. Specifically in reference to the Western view versus the Eastern view.
The Eastern people groups in discussion are primarily Muslim, but the Hindu people are also included.
A strong foreword has been written by Brother Andrew.

My Thoughts:
The Insanity of Obedience is an uncomfortable read. It is not a motivational book with sentimental testimonies. It is a book describing a harsh, but normal reality for 80% of the world's believers. For the Western Church, suffering is viewed as abnormal and must be prayed over to disappear. For Christians who live in Africa, China, Afghanistan, Iran, or Communist nations, suffering is normal and expected. They pray that their tormentors will come to believe in Jesus Christ. They pray to forgive their persecutors. Ripken reminded me that people who do not know Jesus as their savior are "already suffering." One of the first lessons in The Insanity of Obedience is to re-define the term suffering.
There are several points in the book that stand out.

  • Obstacles that keep the gospel from taking root in a host culture. For example, "The knowledge of only one way to do church." 
  • "More than 80% of the world are oral communicators." Later in the book Ripken shares Muslim men are literate; whereas, Muslim women are often illiterate. Further, Muslim men most often share the gospel with their male relatives, but do not share the gospel with their wives and female relatives. 
  • The three major types of persecution. 
  • Faulty assumptions about conversion in Muslim Background Believers and Hindu Background Believers.
  • American individualism view versus an Eastern community view. 
  • Baptism issues.   

I had mentioned earlier in my review of being an "uncomfortable read." I'm sure you are wondering what is "uncomfortable" for me in the book?

  1. Some of Ripken's ideas feel foreign to me. I believe this is both normal and also a challenge. I have lived in America all of my life. I have traveled in Europe. I can remember being in a Brussels, Belgium train station surrounded by people who did not "look" like me nor speak my language. I was on their turf. It was a world made different by post 911. I was polite, overly polite, but very observant. I'd not thought, because of my ignorance, they were suspicious of my white Americanized body and clothing. It is books like The Insanity of Obedience that shine a light into the small box I live in. 
  2. I think too much, way too much. This is a hazard from being an introvert. I'm a planner and love to be organized. I like to have a plan A, B, C, and maybe D. Over-thinking causes me to talk myself out of what God has called me to do. A recent lesson, a lesson God has been trying to show me even before reading this book, is obey God the first time. 

My favorite quotes:

  • "God is a sending God."
  • "We go as sheep among wolves."
  • "God uses persecution and suffering for His purposes."
  • "The believer's task is to be part of a community who baptize and disciple those whom God brings to faith. Beyond that, believers are compelled to leave results in God's hands." 
  • "The greatest hindrance to the growth of God's kingdom globally is racism. Despite our protests to the contrary, there are sometimes deeper reasons behind our 'convictions.' And these deeper reasons are not unique to any particular groups or people. Human beings are naturally drawn to 'our own people.' But God seeks to transform what is 'natural' to us into what is more in line with His character and heart." 
  • "It is axiomatic to point out that we cannot bring into existence what we do not already know and do ourselves. It is simply not possible to model what we have not yet experienced."
  • "The testimony of our brothers and sisters thriving in persecution globally is compelling and their testimony reminds us we are always free to obey Christ. It is our high privilege to act on that freedom." 

Nik Ripken is the world’s leading expert on the persecuted church in Muslim contexts. He is a missions veteran of 25 years, having served primarily in North Africa and the Middle East. He is the author of many articles and, along with his wife, has done extensive research on the persecuted church, and on Muslim background believers, in approximately 60 countries.


Open Doors website

Persecution in Belarus

Bible links from Bible Gateway.