Thursday, April 15, 2010

Book Review: Living Sacrifice

Mention the name of Helen Roseveare in Christian circles, and most people will know of her. A missionary in the Congo (or Zaire) for twenty years, she suffered at the hands of the rebel army during the rebellion in 1964. Her life story has been told in her own words in three books, Give Me This Mountain, He Gave Me A Valley, and Digging Ditches. I should probably declare my special interest in Helen's story, given that she is a member of the church where I am working!

Helen served with Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade (WEC), and on returning home, authored four books on the four principles of WEC - faith, sacrifice, holiness and fellowship. This was the first of this series that I have read, on Living Sacrifice.

Centred on the verses 'offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God' (Rom 12:2), and the Great Commandment to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength... and to live your neighbour as yourself' (Mark 12:29-31), the book is a reflection of how Helen tried (and often failed) to live up to these verse in her missionary work. The book is therefore refreshingly honest in the struggle of Christian living, and particularly of obedience when our pride, selfishness, intellectual superiority, wanting to be in control of our own lives, all get in the way.

The book is fairly short, and can be read in an afternoon - although it's much better to savour it and to reflect on the things that Helen shares. It's also very readable - as if you're just sitting talking to Helen and she's telling stories of Africa. Here are a few quotes that I found interesting and useful:

'If He so loved me that He was willing to die for me, whatever could I do for Him even to show my heart's longing to thank Him?'

'To be thus transformed, was I willing - am I still willing - for the whittling, sand=papering, stripping processes necessary in my Christian life?'

'As God deals with pride and the insidious love of self, He can take my heart and truly love others through it.'

'To love the Lord my God with all my soul would have to mean that He controlled my desires, and took over my impetuous nature, and replaced my self-centredness with His own self-giving nature.'

'To love the Lord my God with all my strength might, paradoxically, mean to love Him wholly in my weakness.'

'To be known as "men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ", to rejoice as those that "were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name", to be listed with those "of whom the world was not worthy", will be far greater joy than to have received the world's approval, amassed the world's wealth, succeeded in the world's estimation (even that of the Christian world).'

'How true it is that we can never please everyone - but we can always please Him.'

A great read, and a good encouragement and spur to continue in our discipleship even when things seem to be difficult. My copy was a secondhand copy from a bookshop, but these four books have recently been republished by Christian Focus Publications.

No comments:

Post a Comment