2013--8It’s an ongoing challenge for me to stay connected with the work of frontier missions—taking the gospel to the places and peoples who have not yet heard. Recently I read a book (and have begun re-reading it) that has strengthened that connection in wonderfully unexpected ways.

In Dispatches from the Front, author Tim Keesee takes me along as his companion. He’s a journalist, explorer, culture appreciator, film maker, world wanderer, and gospel lover. The book weaves together his journal reports and reflections written in places from Egypt to Iraq, from Siberia to Albania, from China to Liberia. The places he describes and the fellow-believers he introduces are truly inspiring.

Tim brings me face to face with Christians who are suffering physical deprivation or hostile persecution—or both—yet are full of joy and carrying on a powerful (yes, powerful) witness to the reality of Jesus. I enter out-of-the-way places and meet out-of-the-limelight people and am thoroughly struck and delighted with the unmistakable, New-Testament-like reality, vitality, purpose, and victory that mark their lives. I respond with shakes of the head, laughter, tears, and prayers. I am renewed in my confidence in the power of the gospel. I am humbled by the faithfulness of believers in humble settings around the world. I look at my own circumstances differently.

Likeable features of this book include:

  • It can be read in bite-size portions. I read it at the breakfast table over the course of several weeks.
  •  It is wide-ranging in its scope. Tim took me on a tour of nine regions of the earth.
  • It is up-to-date. Published in 2014, the book tells about real-life people today.
  • It is easy to read—vivid, engaging, serious, punctuated with humor.
  • It offers a front-row seat, a you-are-there entrée to real-time places and people.
  • It is eye-opening, instructive, gripping, convicting, sobering.
  • It is hopeful, inspiring, uplifting, heart-warming.
  • It fuels prayer for the unreached peoples of the world.
  • It is applicable to disciple-making in the North Central District.

I was sad when the book came to an end. I felt like I was saying goodbye to a traveling companion I had come to thoroughly enjoy, and to new acquaintances in Christ’s family that I had come to appreciate and admire.

Dispatches is a highly worthwhile connection to the frontiers. I recommend it.

(Tim and his ministry team has produced a series of DVDs as well—a visual form of the tour provided in the book. )