This is an article from the March 2001 issue: God’s Story

Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment

Dear Readers,

You would not be holding this bulletin in your hands if you were not wanting to learn something important to you and the work of God on this earth.

As usual, as I sit down to write this editorial, my mind is just bursting with exciting things that have loomed into view since our last issue went out. Things I know many of you will want to know about. Things I feel I must make sure you know of.

But, alas, all that would take far more than I can put into two pages. I could spend two hours, talking without even taking a breath and not encompass them.

So what do I do? I guess my job is not to spell it all out but simply to act as an index so you can pursue any of these matters further. All I need to do, then, is to pass on to you a few clues. You can do the rest.

As for clues, first of all, movies, TV, internet, newspapers--none of these things, when you want to know something you don't know, is as effective, in my mind, as a book can be--if it's on the right subject.

Never in history, actually, have believers been able to lay their hands on in-depth knowledge as easily.

For example, you can "buy" hundreds, even thousands of hours of other people's hard work by buying the right book. You can spend pennies and get back thousands of dollars of careful, thoughtful effort others have expended on your behalf. Benjamin Franklin may have been able to buy a book for $2.50, but what he paid back then would, in today's currency, be far more than we pay for books.

In regard to books, then:

Last time I reviewed very briefly a book which, for missionaries (I failed to say) could be a helpful review of time-tested thinking in the mission agency world. I was more concerned that Changing the Mind of Missions somewhat carelessly casts all these good and not-so-good ideas as criticisms of the movement that produced them. This effectually undermines the confidence of the non-missionary reader in the vast and impressive global enterprise that is missions. Thus, it's too bad that it was at the Urbana conference. This book can be terribly misleading to the non-missionary reader.

I honestly believe that the truly superhuman results of thousands of sacrificial missionaries does not deserve this kind of mistreatment.

Last time I spent most of my editorial describing some of the ironic and unfortunate things about college life, or the very idea of spending all those years in school. This time, on pages 36-37 some of those ideas are spelled out further.

This time, of course, we are still on the subject of what goes on at the college level in this country, thus we highlight the every-three-year phenomenon of the Urbana Student Missionary Convention.

1. Moody and Urbana

Not well known is the fact that the Urbana phenomenon is the direct result of the momentous impact of an impulsive and impetuous young genius whose heart boiled for God: D. L. Moody. I am delighted to report that coincidentally, one of the most insightful books on this most influential Christian of the 20th century is just out. The Urbana phenomenon (and it really is an amazing phenomenon) is actually no more than the continuation of the Student Volunteer Movement. Moody initially (and for years) had more to do with that movement, behind the scenes, than any other person.

For example, his friends earnestly urged him not to go to England because they knew that he would face monumental disdain for his lack of formal education and his back-country dialect of English. And especially, they warned, he should not try to speak at any university!

But his boiling heart moved mountains and, after he got to England, he was invited to speak at Cambridge. Sure enough the students jeered his brogue--stamping their feet the first night so that you could hardly hear what he had to say. The student body president even made a list of mispronounced words and took it forward to him. But as he walked toward this amazing, pudgy, unlettered man, something melted him and he found himself apologizing.

The result? Seven of the top Cambridge athletes set out for China as missionaries. In England this was as if the seven top Super Bowl players were to have announced their dedication to missionary service.

The older brother (later mayor of London) of one of those students was urged by Moody to visit YMCA groups on U.S. campuses. He did.

The brother's efforts not only won over John R. Mott, but made possible the first "Urbana," which was a month-long Bible study presided over by Moody. This extraordinary gathering of students in turn kicked off the series of "Quadrennials." These grew in attendance to far larger meetings held every four years. If you consider them as a percentage of total college population back then, they were far larger than the meetings held today in a 20,000-seat auditorium.

(Somewhat similarly, 20,000 students at a missionary conference in America would, in proportion to the population of Korea, be only 4,000. Yet 6,000 attended Korea's Mission Korea meetings last year.)

But alas, I have used up more than half of my space and have only just begun. (Do get that 500-page book about Moody: A Passion for Souls, by Dorsett, see p. 47).

2. A "Forklift" Book

At the opposite extreme is the ponderous, two-volume World Christian Encyclopedia, Second Edition (Oxford). Truly a landmark. Heavy enough to sink a ship. You'll need a forklift. Has almost 2,000 enormous 10 by 12 inch pages. Expensive enough (even with our huge discount) so you would rather your church library buy it (it really is inexpensive if it is available to the whole congregation). Nowhere, ever in history, has as much detailed information been as carefully gathered, skillfully amassed and effectively presented, country by country, people by people, language by language concerning the truly breathtaking impact on this planet of the Biblical faith. Whew! Monumental. What a feat!

3. A Missions Anchor

Midway in size is another book, this time only 1,000 smaller pages, weighing less than half as much, but also truly monumental. It is the new Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions (Baker). In this major treasure is an absolute monopoly on everything truly important about the subject of missions. You get the work of over 300 contributors, reading like a "Who's Who" of mission scholars, thinkers and doers today, it is something that not only no church library should try to do without, but I tell you truly it is something no serious believer ought to try to do without. It does have a hefty price tag, understandably, but you can get it for half of the retail $60, see p. 47. You will never regret it. It won't go out of date for many years since it has so much basic material. Also, we will send you, with the book, some very vital indexes to the authors and subjects, etc.

4. One More!

Now, another huge, truly landmark book gives you thousands of hours of work and years of labor (mountain trekking) and hundreds of brilliantly colored photographs on over 500 full-color pages! Nothing as comprehensive, as readable and as attractive on the peoples of China has ever been available. Incredible. And, nothing you could put on your coffee table would be more worthy.

Operation China (William Carey Library and Piquant) is the work of an astounding explorer-missionary-photographer, Paul Hattaway. Yet, this book is now almost as inexpensive as the book on Moody! On the secular market it could be sold for $120. Whatever you do don't pass this by. It could be a very stirring college graduation present, or a post-Urbana investment. You cannot get more for your money. See page 47.

5. Finally

Now, the least expensive book of all, yet in some ways the most important: here is a pudgy, compact, 556-page book which I believe is the most important book of the 40 or so ever written by missiologist-activist C. Peter Wagner.

How can I say this? Never in my life have I spent most of my daily devotions for almost two years in any book outside of the Bible. (Peter was once a student of mine, and I was eager to give advice wherever I could.) It is truly a unique and important book. His earlier three volumes are now the new, revised, one-volume, The Acts of the Holy Spirit (Regal). It fairly bristles with excitement and arresting insight. It is, I truly believe, the only serious commentary on the Bible ever written with the unusual perspective of the global mission movement as the exclusive backdrop. Be prepared for surprises again and again.

It is by itself almost a course in missiology, yet refreshingly readable. Wagner is a great communicator. And, we thought this book so important we made a special deal with the publisher that allows us to sell this $16.99 book to you for less than half price (with postage and packing the total is $10). That price is available only if you use this code number, FMF-076. Either phone 1-800-MISSION (1-800-647-7466) with your credit card handy or send a $10 check to FMF, 1605 Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA91104. You can buy any amount at this price. If you buy a case of 20 you can get it for only $9 a copy, post paid.

Please, dear reader, decide at this moment that you will buy this book and spend the next 24 weeks reading its 24 chapters--and be telling others about it as well! (Your friends will have to give the same code number when they call or write.) Your Bible will never be the same again.

Should I apologize for spending this whole editorial on books? These treasures just bunched up!

Are you perhaps one of the 19,000 Urbana students? (Since this issue is going to all who attended.) If so, realize that for less than what a single college course costs you can buy all five of the books I have mentioned, even the massive "forklift" World Christian Encyclopedia! Do you want to be effectively prepared for your life-work decision? Don't scrimp in this area!


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