There is much going on all around the world. God has been actively spreading his Gospel to the ends of the earth for millennia and will continue to do so until our Lord returns to consummate his eternal reign. One of the greatest benefits of living in the age in which we do is the access to global news. Before, a believing pastor would be jailed in a hostile nation and we would not even know about it. Today, we know Saeed Abedini. We know his wife and his children. We see his face. Before, a sister in Christ would be tortured and sentenced to death for not embracing Islam and we would know nothing. Today, we know and pray for sister Meriam Ibrahim. But even with 24-hour news cycles we still do not know even a portion of what is going on around the world, especially in the world of global evangelism and Gospel missions.
Dispatches from the Front gives us a glimpse of what God is doing and introduces us to the people through whom he is working. We get to meet brothers and sisters who are suffering, persevering, rejoicing, and winning lost sheep to the fold of our great Shepherd. This book, along withthe video series, does a truly wonderful job introducing us to our brothers and sisters all over the world.
Tim Keesee takes the reader all around the globe. To Azerbajian and Uzbekistan to meet Galina Vilchinskaya. When Galina was a twenty-three-year-old Sunday school teacher she
spent five years in prison for her gospel work; but prison, hunger, and beatings could not silence her. She led many in her prison to the Lord, so she was transferred to another prison—and after that, yet another. For her, these transfers were just new gospel opportunities. Finally, Galina was transported by prison train to the utter east of Siberia, along with scores of other prisoners—the worst of the worst. As the condemned in their cages rumbled on through the Siberian vastness, the din of cursing and fighting was broken by a clear, sweet voice of singing. It was Galina singing of her Savior. A hush fell over the train car. Even the most hardened criminals turned their faces away to hide their tears—and mile after mile, hymn after hymn, Galina sang the gospel.
Tim takes us to Hatay to meet
an old woman named Arro-kulano, who had for years been a sorceress until she heard the gospel and abandoned the service of demons. In anger over her faith, her Muslim son burned her house down! But the change in his mother’s life and the way the Christians loved her and rebuilt her house softened his heart—and the power of the cross did the rest. He gathered with us to praise the Lord Jesus as we sat beneath trees thick with the nests of weaver birds. The songbirds seemed to join in as we lifted our voices and hands in praise.
In Ethiopia Tim introduces us to our brother Michael who works with AIDS orphans, being the hands and feet of our great God. That is where we meet Yerus and her friend Lamrot.
Yerus, which is short for “Jerusalem,” came here when she was four. Michael found her at the hospital—an orphan with full-blown AIDS, waiting to die. She had lost her hair, and her head was covered with sores instead. Michael made a little shashfor her and took her out shopping for clothes. Afterward he determined he had to help her. Because she was the first child with AIDS that he had ever taken into the orphanage, his heart was filled with fear and uncertainty. Still though, two things were certain: left alone, Yerus would soon die; and Michael had to do something. So Jerusalem would be the beginning of taking care of AIDS orphans. Four years later, she has beautiful hair, which she had pulled back in a ponytail, and she has a strong faith and love for Jesus. There were seven other AIDS orphans at the orphanage when I visited. Michael said the children are the best therapy for each other—they take care of each other.
Tim goes and sees firsthand the persecution many of our brothers and sisters are facing. In Pakistan he goes with some Human Rights attorneys to visit Pastor Indriaz in the hospital. Indriaz was beaten by a group of Muslim men for his faith and his witness. The beating had left him next to dead and his young wife and child facing the real possibility of life without him.
The left side of the young pastor’s head was smashed in. The beating severed his ear and left him blind in one eye. Because of convulsions, his wrists were awkwardly tied with cords, leaving him in a position of twisted agony. His wife, Shinaz, sat next to him, holding their three-month-old boy, Saman. She stared blankly at her husband with indescribable sadness in her eyes, as the baby nuzzled her and cried softly.
In Cambodia we meet Lawn,
the Fanny Crosby of the Tampuans. Through her blindness, she sees the Savior, and the joy of that brightens her face. Lawm has already composed ten hymns, and now that J. D. has reduced Tampuan into written form, Lawm’s songs form the basis for the first Tampuan book—a hymnal. She invited us to sit on a reed mat with her. I asked her to sing one of her hymns, and after some coaxing, Lawm consented. She sang of light scattering darkness, of freedom in Christ, of him who has untied us from our sin. As she sang, tears trickled from her sightless eyes—and from my eyes, too.
In the midst of the suffering and hardship the Gospel is going forth. Our great God is gathering his people to himself. He is raising the dead to life and giving eyes to see. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the nation of China where China is
rushing the future—its rise rapid and impressive. Yet there is another power rising that is more impressive still—Christ’s kingdom. It is estimated that there are nearly one hundred million Christians in China. Here among our brothers and sisters, their vision is rising to the occasion. Jus a few years ago, the local house church here was reaching two campuses—now it is reaching twenty-two! And these house churches have increased ten-fold as well. The men who shepherd them seem tireless—operating “beneath the radar,” they are given to evangelism, discipleship, and now missions beyond their city. Their kingdom-dreams are as big as China!
Dispatches from the Front is one of the greatest Christian resources I have ever enjoyed. This book complements the video series perfectly and is a must for anyone desiring to be encouraged and challenged by what is going on around the world. It is easy to become entrenched in the hum-drum of American life, not understanding what is going on around the world. Christians are not at all exempt from this struggle. So it is a blessing to take a trip with Tim and meet so many who are going through so much and being used so mightily to impact the world for the glory of God. So come with Tim and meet Li Yun, Pastor Gennady, Misko, Chun-Yan, Roland, Baba George, and so many others who will be our co-heirs and eternal worship partners because of the mighty work of Christ and how it has and is impacting their lives and the lives of those around them. Be challenged. Be stirred. Be convicted. Be encouraged. This is a work that God will use mightily. Get a copy of this book and the videos and be blessed.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.