Category Archives: Christian

Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose

Every once in a while you read a book that slaps your self-pity on the nose – and this is a good thing. This true story about a young missionary woman in New Guinea during World War II will definitely give the reader a check on their pride. Darlene Deibler shares with openness and grace the struggles of moving to New Guinea to reveal the gospel to primitive peoples and then serving four years in a Japanese internment camp. The story is equally heartbreaking and beautiful as she and the women of the camp overcome with a patience and steadfastness rarely observed today.

Evidence Not Seen reads as a primer for those who feel called to missionary work – at least on this point: God’s plan for your life may not be yours but His is ultimately better. Mrs. Deibler relates how she married the much older missionary C. Russell Deibler to be swept to the Dutch East Indies where they were convinced they would set up a strong mission base in remote New Guinea. However, after working tirelessly for a few years to make this a reality, the Japanese army invaded the islands and forced the Deiblers into separate internment camps. Here Darlene found her new mission was to preserve a positive attitude among fellow prisoners and to share and cultivate faith in God in the camp. She suffered trials constantly: disease, forced labor, deaths of loved ones, torture, and deprivement. Through all this, she rested heavy on her relationship with Jesus. His promise to her to “never leave her or forsake her” was the iron for her soul. Though she could never see the endgame for God’s plan for her, she willingly followed his lead and found great reward.

Ultimately this book speaks to power of simple daily faith. To be a hero for this day, you do not have to be mighty – just faithful. The little kindnesses given have a cumulative effect. The daily study of the scripture ground the soul. The prayers whispered in the corner establish a connection to Christ that can be unshakeable. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

7 stars out of 10

photo: west-point.org (Japanese POW camp – not Mrs. Deibler’s camp)

The Awakening in Wales by Jessie Penn-Lewis

Revival literature is a genre all its own. Surely it resembles other Christian writings in its main focus on Jesus and His work in the earth. However, no author – no matter how hard they try – can capture the tone that an eyewitness of a great moving of God can relate. It’s simply because the experience of seeing revival firsthand turns knowledge into understanding. Thankfully, Jessie Penn-Lewis was an eyewitness to the Wales Revival of 1904 and 1905. This little treatise on the movings of the Spirit is a well documented ledger of the awakenings that took place all over this small country. She is able to spread just a little ember of that fire that burned so brightly there; and maybe, this flame of hers will reignite again.

I have a special place in my heart for stories of revival. Maybe it’s because I’m looking for one for the world, or maybe it’s because I need one so badly for myself. Either way, to read tales of how Christ moved with power among the world bringing honor to Himself is glorious. I love missionary tales too (you’ll probably notice plenty on this site as time goes on), but seeing the church on a mountain top is always a precious encouragement. There’s a reason why we read Nathan Cole’s George Whitefield Comes to Middletown every October. We’re looking for fresh fire to fall from heaven.

This tract is a relatively basic overview of places, times, and events. There’s a short description of the call of Evan Roberts to the position of primary evangelist for this time. Christian conferences and town prayer-meetings are described. The words she uses are plain, but there is an authority in them. God’s Spirit moves in among the humdrum recollections of this and that. What a lesson for Christian writers who try to write an intriguing yarn or catch readers with a salacious hook. The simple truth is good enough. Penn-Lewis knows that and delivers it without decoration.

It is hard now a hundred and ten years later to see all the fruit that came from this shaking of Wales. The most obvious are the songs. The 1905 Wales revival is known as a “singing revival”. Many of the Welsh tunes are still with us today. They capture the pre-eminence of the message of Calvary and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Dyma Gariad

Here is Love, vast as the ocean

Loving kindness as the flood,

When the Price of Life our ransom

Shed for us His precious blood;

Who His love will not remember?

Who can cease to sing His praise?

He can never be forgotten

Through Heaven’s eternal days.

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On the Mount of Crucifixion

Fountains opened deep and wide;

Through the floodgates of God’s mercy

Flowed a vast and gracious tide;

Grace and love, like mighty rivers,

Poured incessant from above,

And heaven’s peace and perfect justice

Kissed a guilty world in love.

7.5 stars out of 10

Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson

Lords of the Earth is a gripping account of Christian missionaries, Stanley Dale and Bruno de Leeuw, and their first contact with the Yali tribes-people of the high mountains of Irian Jaya (Dutch New Guinea). The Yali were a hard-edged warrior dominated society that eked out a primitive existence in the steep walled valleys that protected them from civilization. These occasional cannibals had their world and cosmology utter shaken by the appearance of the two RBMU (Regions Beyond Missionary Union) missionaries and native guides that trekked into their valleys in 1961. Over the next decade, these people saw their warring sectarianism replaced by a loving peace taught by the Christian gospel.

Stan Dale is the main protagonist of this hard-to-believe true story. Starting from very humble beginnings in Australia, he fought his way into becoming a smart, strong, but often equally brash soldier. His conversion to Christianity was followed shortly by a call to the mission fields of Papua New Guinea. However, his sternness and treatment of others led him to being let go from not one but two different missionary societies. But when in his third stint on the island he went to the Yali people, he finally found the field God had prepared him for.

This account is filled with some absolutely cringe-filled moments as Stan charges into situations that he had no understanding of the underlying context. The greatest lesson this book imparts is that God can use anyone and their foibles for His work. Richardson’s portrayal of him – drawn from many firsthand accounts and his own acquaintance – paint a fair picture of the man. Sometimes this is to his detriment, but also the reader sees how he was uniquely suited for this challenging assignment. His supporting cast of missionaries and native tribesmen are impressive in their resolve to break the power of spirit worship. I don’t want to spoil the story, but it truly is amazing from where it starts to where it ends.

The thing I loved most was the view into this primitive people’s lives. Their beliefs, their thoughts, the way the villages are arranged appeal deeply to my anthropological curiosities. These black pygmy cliff dwellers reveal their humanity even in the most uncivilized ways. The reader feels drawn to them in the same way the missionaries were.

The book on a whole isn’t as strong as Richardson’s autobiographical account in his book Peace Child, but those who love to read compelling stories of Christ’s work will enjoy this. The events in this story are barely fifty years old. They should be an inspiration to many.

7 stars out of 10

A Passion for God: the Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett

I picked up this book on Tozer thinking that it would be great to have a good biography on such a influential Christian figure of the 20th century. However, what I got was really just a survey on a man whose inner life was hard to probe into. I met Lyle Dorsett at Wheaton and even went to the church where he preached for a while, and while a look into Tozer’s life is laudable, this book just scratched the surface of the inner man.

The issue is plain that Tozer was not outgoing. He dedicated almost all his personal time to seeking out God and knowing Jesus better. The rest of his time was devoted to preaching and teaching others about the Lord he knew so well. This must be the trouble with trying to write about him – he was singularly focussed for the 45 years after his conversion. The book tries to illustrate how this caused issues with his wife and children. But instead of leading to a fuller picture of the man, it seems like the author is just trying to come up with something to say besides “he prayed – a LOT.” Everyone of his friends and family relate that it was hard to be close to him, but his personal sacrifice was worth it when compared against his ministry as a prophetic voice. God had given Tozer a mission to warn the church against worldliness and to call her back to knowledge of Him. There is no doubt that he faithfully fulfilled his calling until his dying day.

The parts of the biography that I enjoyed the most were the outlining of the development of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the denomination Tozer was affiliated with. The stories about A. B. Simpson and the fourfold doctrine of Christ (Christ as Savior, Christ as Sanctifier, Christ as Healer, and Christ as Coming King) were enlightening. Also to see how denominational lines were being drawn in the midwest in the early 1900’s gave the book the depth it couldn’t find in its main subject.

My guess is that while the subject is one worthy of all emulation, there are probably other books that handle his life better. But why read those when Tozer himself left such a formidable body of work? Pick up The Pursuit of God or The Knowledge of the Holy and let A. W. Tozer tell you in his own words where a Christian’s life should lead. It will be worth it.

4 stars out of 10.