Stonebridge Church will have a unique opportunity this Sunday to hear from Don Richardson, the well-known missionary and author of The Peace Child. I want to tell you how his story deeply impacted me. I hope this will encourage you to read the story too. But I really hope you will come to church this Sunday to hear from its author. I pray it will change your eternal perspective and propel you further into the work of God’s Kingdom!
I have been told by many mentors over the years to make a habit of reading Christian biographies, especially those of missionaries. Regrettably, I haven’t been very good at heeding their advice. The rare occasion that I did was when I was required to read the story of Jim Elliot in order to participate in a college play about his story called the “Bridge of Blood.” Ironically, I was cast as Jim in the play. The spiritual journey God took me on as I navigated through Jim’s diaries and his wife Elizabeth’s famous books (primarily Through Gates of Splendor), brought me to deeper convictions and passions about Christ and His mission than I had previously known. Jim instantly became a hero to me for giving me greater perception to see through the fog of daily, distracted life (both in the world and the Church) and into the clearing where my Lord beckoned me and my fellow Christians to come and die…and live.
For some reason, I have not read any missionary biographies since that time. Perhaps the convicting call of Matthew 28 frightened me and I wanted no more reminders of how my life constantly ebbs and flows with each wave of passionate faith receding into an equally powerful current of fear. Perhaps God, knowing my frail constitution and the individualized treatment needed to bring greater spiritual power to my weak knees and feeble arms, graciously measured out the precise amount of medicine and timed its delivery in such a way as to not overwhelm my spiritual system. Whatever the reason, the story of Jim, Elizabeth and their comrades has often buoyed my faith throughout the last two decades, even if it has not brought me to act with the same bold faith as these brave missionaries.
Now with my reading of The Peace Child, I am finding myself being brought back to the same incredible and ineffable feelings the story of Jim Elliot awakened within me as a college student. Again, the choice to read this book was not exactly my own. Don Richardson, the author and missionary in the story, has providentially been slated to speak at my church this Sunday. In addition, I may also have the opportunity to dine with him on Saturday night. I wasn’t required to read The Peace Child by the elders, but I felt like I should, given the magnitude of this opportunity to hear from such a celebrated missionary.
So I picked it up. And as I rapidly consumed it, its message consumed me. As I was not exactly sure what was happening inside of me after first being exposed to the Bridge of Blood story, I am also unaware of what is transpiring in my soul after this first exposure to The Peace Child story. My only articulate thought is I cannot remain unchanged. I will either move forward with more faith to follow Christ on mission to bring His life and light to mankind, however and wherever that plays out, or I will retract into greater fear. If the former, I may be considered foolish, and the earthly consequences may be dire. If the latter, I may maintain a well-manicured and commendable religious existence, but the eternal consequences will be dreadful.
I would hope my personal, visceral reaction to The Peace Child would give you a clear sense of just how highly I recommend this book to you. I pray that it changes my will and actions as much as it is clearly provoking a change in my affections. I hope God may use it in your life as well to either bring you to faith in Jesus Christ or to a greater resolve to speak the name of Christ to others who have not yet heard.