November 12, 2017 § Leave a comment
Did you know that penguins (the birds that swim instead of fly) thrive in saltwater environments because they have a gland above their eyes that filters salt from their blood, and then the salt is excreted through their bills, either as a drip or by a sneeze?
And did you know that Penguin (the publisher that’s part of Penguin Random House) puts out a list each year aimed at first-year college students, called “Penguin Books for First-Year Experience and Common Reading Programs“?
(The rest of this post is going to elaborate on the second fact above, though the first one is pretty cool.)
Many colleges and universities have first-year-experience (FYE) programs aimed at laying an introductory foundation for beginning students. Programs often have as their focus a course taken by all new students and may also include a common text that students share in reading. Chosen well, this book expands the world of incoming students and creates avenues for growth and discussion.
Look at Penguin’s 2017-18 catalog of books recommended as common readings and you’ll find plenty of award-winning works, filled with inspiration and covering a myriad of challenging topics, and you don’t need to be a college freshman to appreciate the width and depth represented there. And within that list, you’ll also find a lot with cross-cultural and international themes—so many, in fact, that they’re worth listing here.
I’ve divided them into the categories that Penguin uses in its catalog, showing the title and author, followed by the place or situation, if not already apparent. I can’t personally vouch for all of these books, since, regrettably, I haven’t read any of them. But I can certainly say that I’d like to use these titles to start a to-read list . . . or maybe a list for Christmas.
In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom
Yeonmi Park with Maryanne Vollers
It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
(at the Mexico/US border)
The Association of Small Bombs
(India and the US)
City of Saints and Thieves
Natalie C. Anderson
Everything I Never Told You
(imagined world of refugees)
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Quiet until the Thaw
The Shadow of the Crescent Moon
(Afghanistan and Pakistan)
And the Mountains Echoed
(Kabul, Paris, San Francisco, and the Greek island of Tinos)
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid
(a Somali girl and the Olympics)
Vivek Shanbhag, translated by Srinath Perur
Girl in Translation
(an immigrant from Hong Kong to Brooklyn)
(Pakistani immigrants in London and Massachusetts)
How I Became a North Korean
(at the Chinese border with North Korea)
(immigrant and international students at Harvard)
In the Language of Miracles
(Egyptian immigrants to the US)
(an undocumented Mexican immigrant and Indian-American in the US)
(US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and returning home)
(an immigrant from Iran to the US to Europe)
Juan Gabriel Vásquez, translated by Anne McLean
The Shape of Bones
A Tale for the Time Being
A Word for Love
A School for My Village: A Promise to the Orphans of Nyaka
Twesigye Jackson Kaguri with Susan Urbanek Linville
Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War
Thomas J. Brennan and Finbarr O’Reilly
(Afghanistan and Iraq)
The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine
Memoir and Biography
Karl Ove Knausgaard
The Bosnia List: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Return
Kenan Trebinčević and Susan Shapiro
The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia
An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography
Paul Rusesabagina and Tom Zoellner
Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
Bich Minh Nguyen
(Vietnamese immigrant in Michigan)
Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League
Dan-el Padilla Peralta
You Will Not Have My Hate
And finally, a few books on listening and telling stories, all from David Isay, the founder of StoryCorps:
It’s What’s Inside That Counts, Right? Here’s a Resource to Help Us Live That Way [—at A Life Overseas]
February 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
Come join me at A Life Overseas for my full post on a helpful book written by a friend and former missionary.
Stephen W. Smith wrote Inside Job for leaders, leaders who find themselves trying to “climb the slippery, treacherous slope of success” and too often falling with a crash, landing in a heap below.
Stephen was once among them. When he began life after graduate school, he says, “I developed an addiction to work that was applauded by every organization I worked for in my career. I was hooked—as every addiction hooks a person.” For Stephen, that work included his service on the mission field.
The solution, he writes, is to redefine success and to prioritize the care of one’s soul, what he calls “the work within the work.” Using the “Great Eight Virtues” listed in 2 Peter 1 as his foundation, in Inside Job Stephen presents the need for emotional and spiritual transformation and fleshes out what must be done to bring it about—”a process of learning, adjusting, repenting and starting anew with courageous convictions.”
The work within the work includes finding rhythm (not balance) in life, saying “no” in light of our limitations, recognizing the need for Sabbath rest, and understanding and managing transitions.
For many of us, this will require a nearly 180-degree turnaround. . . .
Finish reading at ALifeOverseas.com.
A Much Too Long (like This Title) List of Place- and Culture-Themed Coloring Books for Adults and Colorists of All Ages (but It Could Be a Whole Lot Longer)
November 25, 2015 § 8 Comments
OK, here’s the deal. Since adult coloring books are all the rage now, and because there are studies that show that coloring can reduce anxiety and stress, I decided I’d search Amazon to see what titles I could come up with on the topics of travel, places, cultures, and the like.
After I came up with 30 or so, I was feeling pretty good about myself, but then a few things happened. First, my tendency to be obsessive about lists kicked in and I felt the need to make my list not just longer, but all-inclusive. Then I realized that if I wanted to include designs and patterns (Indian, Celtic, Arabic, etc.) I’d never be done, so I eliminated them, as much as it pained me . . . because a lot of those book are pretty cool. But just when my list seemed more manageable, I discovered the whole library of Dover coloring books. I was bombarded with all their history-themed offerings, and I had to decide what made a coloring book “adult” rather than “for kids.” I put some more titles in, left some out (more pain), and expanded my category from adults to “colorists,” a term I see thrown around by publishers. I figure it means people who take their coloring seriously, even as they use it to wind down, people who are more-mature colorers who choose detailed pictures that can accommodate sharpened pencils, not just fat Crayons: colorists. Of course detailed pictures would include all those intricate designs and patterns. . . . Did I mention how much it pains me to leave them out?
So after all that, here’s the list I’ve come up with. It’s nearly 200 entries long, and it’s caused me no small amount of anxiety to put it together. It wasn’t just finding them all, but also arranging them (I gave up on working too hard on that), trying to get all the links straight, and realizing that my list is outdated before I hit the publish button.
What I’m trying to say is that my efforts to put together an exhaustive list have left me exhausted . . . and stressed.
- Vintage Travel Postcards Coloring Book: For Adults and Curious Children (Volume 1)
- World Traveler Coloring Book: 30 World Heritage Sites
- Travel Inspired Coloring: Coloring to Relax and Free Your Mind
- The Travel Coloring Book: Inspiring Change through Meditative Coloring
- Passport to Imagination: A Coloring Book For All Ages
- Colouring the World: A Sophisticated Activity Book for Adults
- The Look: An Around-the-World Fashion Coloring Book
- Masks of the World Coloring Book
- Christmas around the World Coloring Book
- Wonders of the World Coloring Book
- Tropical World: A Coloring Book Adventure
- Tropical Paradise Scenes to Paint or Color
- Jungle Paradise: A Coloring Escape into the Wild
- Beach Inspired: A Relaxing Coloring Book
- Take Me to the Sea: 30 Ocean-Themed Coloring Pages
- A Colorful World: Surf & Sun Coloring Book
- Lighthouses of the World
- Houses Coloring Book for Grown-Ups (Volume 1)
- Architectural Art: A Stress Management Coloring Book For Adults
- Cathedrals of the World Coloring Book
- Churches Coloring Book for Grown-Ups (Volume 1)
- Castles of the World Coloring Book
- Bridges of the World Coloring Book
- Color Your Way: The Bridge
- Warriors through the Ages
- The Story of World War I
- Story of World War II
- Amazing Cities: A Coloring Book of Fantastic Places in the World (Volume 1)
- Amazing Cities: A Coloring Book of Fantastic Places in the World (Volume 2)
- Splendid Cities: Color Your Way to Calm
- Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined
- Adult Coloring Book: Dream Cities : Color Your Dream (Volume 2)
- Adult Coloring Book: Dream Cities 2 : Color Your Dream (Volume 4)
- Cities: Color Your Way to Calm with This Splendid Cities Coloring Book
- Creative Haven CityScapes: A Coloring Book with a Hidden Picture Twist
- The Colors of Asia: An Anti-Stress Art Therapy Adult Coloring Book
- Secret Tokyo: Color Your Way to Calm
- Colorful Tokyo: Explore and Color
- Creative Haven Japanese Prints Coloring Book
- Women in Japanese Art: Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints
- My Favorite Relaxing Coloring Book: Life, Myths and Fairy Tales of Ancient Japan
- Creative Haven Japanese Kimono Designs Coloring Book
- Kimono: Artist’s Coloring Book
- Ancient Japanese Kimono Designs – 2: An Adult Coloring Book
- Japanese Dragons Coloring Book For Adults & Kids (Volume 50)
- Women in Japanese Art: Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints
- Japanese Geishas Stained Glass Coloring Book
- Life in Old Japan
- Floating World Japanese Prints Coloring Book: Color your Masterpiece & Clear Your Mind
- Color Your Own Japanese Woodblock Prints
- Samurai Warriors Coloring Book
- Exotic China: A Coloring Book For Adults
- Chinese Fashions
- A Coloring Book of Ancient China
- China: A Coloring Book For The Coloring Artist In You (Volume 3)
- Fashions from India
- Colouring the Lion City: A Sophisticated Activity Book for Adults
- Iran’s Beauty: A Coloring Book
- Mexican Vacation: Viva Mexico!
- Life in Ancient Mexico
- Creative Haven Mexican Folk Art Coloring Book
- Peru Travels Adult Coloring Book: Color Precious Moments in Peru
- Creative Haven Hello Cuba! Coloring Book
- Incas, Aztecs & Mayas
- Island Escape: My Caribbean Coloring Book
- Creative Haven Amazon Animals: A Coloring Book with a Hidden Picture Twist
- Colour Me Good London
- Coloring a Stroll in London: Featuring the Artwork of Celebrated Illustrator Thomas Flintham
- London, Paris, Rome Coloring Book: A Sophisticated, Travel Inspired Coloring Book for Adults
- Kings and Queens of England
- Life in a Medieval Castle and Village Coloring Book
- Medieval Fashions
- The Medieval Castle
- Medieval Jousts and Tournaments
- Knights and Armor Coloring Book
- Byzantine Fashions
- Tudor and Elizabethan Fashion
- Renaissance Fashions
- Cavalier and Puritan Fashions
- Late Victorian and Edwardian Fashions
- Victorian Fashions
- London, Paris, Rome Coloring Book: A Sophisticated, Travel Inspired Coloring Book for Adults
- Secret Paris: Color Your Way to Calm
- Paris Coloring Book
- The Paris Coloring Book
- Coloring Paris: Volume 1 – Intricate Color: Relieve Stress, Create Beautiful Art
- Coloring Paris: Volume 2 – Intricate Color: Relieve Stress, Create Beautiful Art
- Discover Paris: Destination Relaxation
- Cats in Paris: A Magical Coloring Book
- Coloring Paris: Featuring the Artwork of Celebrated Illustrator Tomislav Tomic
- Really Cool Colouring Book 3: La Petite Patisserie
- French Baroque and Rococo Fashions
- Empire Fashions
- Celtic Coloring Book: Mythology, Spirituality and Magic Celtic Coloring Book for Adults (Volume 1)
- Life in Celtic Times
- Celtic Fashions
- Venice, Italy Coloring Book (Volume 1)
- German Travel Moments Adult Coloring Book
- Color Me Berlin: A German Architecture Coloring Book (Volume 3)
- Madrid Spain Coloring Book
- German Travel Moments Adult Coloring Book: Color Highlights in Germany
- A Coloring Book of Rome
- Life in Ancient Rome
- Life in Ancient Greece
- Greece Coloring Travel
- Amour Greece: Everything Else
- Ancient Gods and Goddesses – Greece & Rome
- Greek and Roman Fashions
- Sparta! Warriors of the Ancient World
- Story of the Vikings
North America/United States
- Color this Book: San Francisco
- Color this Book: New York City
- Secret New York: Color Your Way to Calm
- The New York City Manhattan Coloring Book
- Discover New York City: Destination Relaxation
- Color New York City – Volume 1 – Wandering Tourist
- Wildlife of New York: A Five-Borough Coloring Book
- 3D Coloring: New York City
- The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Coloring Book
- Coloring New York Jazz: Featuring the Artwork of Celebrated Illustrator Tomislav Tomic
- Historic Houses of New York State
- Scenes of Olde New York Coloring Book
- Historic Houses of New England Coloring Book
- The American House Styles of Architecture Coloring Book
- Victorian Houses
- The Victorian House Coloring Book
- Downeast Daydream: A Main Coloring Vacation
- Color Your Way through New Orleans
- Skylines of the United States Coloring Book (Volume 1)
- Creative Haven American Landscapes Color by Number Coloring Book
- Creative Haven Country Scenes Coloring Book
- Creative Haven Winter Scenes Coloring Book
- Color by Numbers for Adults: Country Casual Autumn Scenes
- National Parks Coloring Book
- Picturesque Country Scenes: Coloring Book for Adults
- Great Lakes Lighthouse Coloring Book
- Colorful Seattle: Explore and Color
- Alaskan Wildlife Coloring Book
- Indian Tribes of North America
- Great Native Americans Coloring Book
- Native American Masks Coloring Book
- North American Indian Crafts
- Northwest Coast Indians Coloring Book
- Southeast Indians Coloring Book
- Southwest Indians Coloring Book
- Woodlands Indians Coloring Book
- Plains Indians Coloring Book
- Navajo Rugs and Blankets: A Coloring Book
- Wigwams, Longhouses and Other Native American Dwellings
- Indian Life in Pre-Columbian North America Coloring Book
- Exploration of North America
- Columbus Discovers America Coloring Book
- The Story of Christopher Columbus Coloring Book
- Life in Colonial America
- Colonial and Early American Fashions
- Everyday Dress of the American Colonial Period Coloring Book
- Early American Crafts and Occupations Coloring Book
- Early American Trades Coloring Book
- Western Pioneers Coloring Book
- The Lewis and Clark Expedition
- The Story of Sacajawea
- Cowboys of the Old West Coloring Book
- Big Book of the Old West to Color
- Historic North American Forts Coloring Book
- Historic American Landmarks
- California Missions Coloring Book
- California Mission Coloring Book
- Story of the California Gold Rush Coloring Book
- The Story of the Alamo
- Old-Fashioned Farm Life Coloring Book: Nineteenth Century Activities on the Firestone Farm at Greenfield Village
- America the Beautiful to Paint or Color
- Color the Natural World: A Timber Press Coloring Book
- Nautical Scenes to Paint or Color
- Homes of the American Presidents
- North American Light Houses Coloring Book
- Washington D.C.: A Coloring Book for Kids and Adults
- Landmarks of Washington, D.C. Guide & Coloring Book
- Story of the American Revolution Coloring Book
- Fashions of the Old South
- Story of the Civil War Coloring Book
- From Antietam to Gettysburg: A Civil War Coloring Book
- A Soldiers Life in the Civil War
- The Story of the Underground Railroad
- A Coloring Book of Ancient Africa
- African Wild Lives
- In Memory of Cecil the Lion – Beloved Friends in Africa
- Wild Savannah: A Coloring Book Adventure
- Life in Ancient Egypt Coloring Book
- Gods of Ancient Egypt
- Ancient Egyptian Fashions
- Hidden Egypt: An Artist’s Coloring Book: Explore, Color, & Reveal
- Egyptian Stained Glass Coloring Book
- King Tut Coloring Book
- Life in Ancient Polynesia
- Hawaiian Plants and Animals Coloring Book
- A Coloring Book of Ancient Hawaii
- Story of Hawaii Coloring Book
- New Zealand Birds Conservation Coloring Book
- South Pacific Seafarers
August 7, 2015 § 2 Comments
I have two new friends I’d like to introduce you to. Their names are Andy and Kay Bruner.
I first met up with Andy not long ago through email when he helped me with some of the technical details of writing for A Life Overseas. Then, a few weeks later, I got to know his wife, Kay—and got to know Andy better—by reading her memoir As Soon as I Fell.
I’m not usually a fast reader, but I started her book in the afternoon after work, kept going until I fell asleep that night, and grabbed it off my nightstand and finished it when I woke up in the morning.
It’s a fun read, as Kay tells how her family of four (in time, growing to six) moved to Papua New Guinea to learn about village life. Then they relocated to the Solomon Islands, where she and Andy worked to translate the Bible.
On their first trip to their new home in the Solomon Islands, Andy went ahead on a cargo ship, while Kay and their young daughter and son made their way on the torpedo-shaped Ocean Express, a boat that rolled violently in rough seas. After someone gave the children hard-boiled eggs to eat, and the waves grew larger in open water, Kay writes that she made her “first ship-travel resolution.”
Never, ever let anyone eat boiled eggs on a ship. I’ve heard that there are two stages of seasickness. First, you are afraid you will die. Then you are afraid you won’t. When you are on the receiving end of egg vomit from two small children, both stages pretty much hit simultaneously.
This was not the only stomach-churning adventure that they had. In fact, throwing up is something of a common theme in Kay’s writing. As I read through the book, I thought of playing a drinking game, taking a swig (of Maalox, of course) every time someone lost her lunch. The nausea seemed to reach its apex when Kay was pregnant with their third child. While describing the intricacies of prenatal care in an island town, she says that she “was sick as [she] never knew it was possible to be sick.” “The smell of the kitchen cabinets made me throw up,” she writes. “For the next four months, I threw up. Throwing up was my life.”
As Soon as I Fell is also a challenging read. Kay writes candidly about the times when the difficulties were no longer humorous, when reaching a breaking point was not a concern but a reality. She tells how her upbringing had led her to strive for perfection, and when that wasn’t possible, to “perform at any cost.” This was part of what led her to mission work, but it was also what led her to a place where she couldn’t continue any more.
In the middle section of the book, she shares journal entries, giving more day-to-day details of their lives as Bible translators.
Then, returning to a more reflective style of writing, she introduces the book’s third section with
How do you write about something so horrible, so disgusting, that it makes you feel like you’ve been vomited on? Something that makes you feel like a bag of garbage, thrown on the side of the road?
This time, the nausea was worse than seasickness. Kay had already written about the strains on her marriage with Andy, fueled by the unhealthy ways each dealt with stress. Now she had discovered that her husband was addicted to pornography.
My heart breaks for what the two of them went through.
There were the struggles that caused them to leave the field. There was the leaving itself. And there was the difficult task of returning to the leadership of their mission organization and life in the States.
While you can read Kay’s perspective of their experiences in As Soon as I Fell, Andy is open to sharing about it as well. In his blog post “Want to See What a Porn-Addicted Missionary Looks Like?” he tells of the prevalence of pornography among Christians and discusses ways to confront the issue. One is to open up conversations about pornography so that those who need help will be willing to ask for it.
Of his addiction, I would have to paraphrase the English chaplain John Bradford: “But for the grace of God, there goes Craig Thompson.”
After returning to the States, the Bruners began attending a new church. Kay spoke to a pastor there whom she’d not met before. “I wanted to tell him a little of my story,” she writes, “but all I could say was, ‘I’m a missionary,’ before I started sobbing.” That brought tears to my eyes, too.
I am so glad that Kay was able to tell more of her story in As Soon as I Fell. I’m so glad for her honesty and that of her husband. I’m so glad I have two new friends.
Now I hope to meet them some day.
(Kay Bruner, As Soon as I Fell: A Memoir, CreateSpace, 2014)
May 17, 2015 § 2 Comments
Diane Stortz knows a thing or two about being separated from family. She’s the co-author of Parents of Missionaries: How to Thrive and Stay Connected when Your Children and Grandchildren Serve Cross-Culturally.
By my reckoning, that means that she knows two things or four about finding books to send to grandchildren overseas.
If you’d like some good advice, go to her blog and read her five points on what to look for when choosing the right storybook for children.
And at Christian Children’s Authors, she puts in a plug for recordable children’s books. Maybe it’s because I don’t have grandchildren yet, but I never knew there was such a thing. What a great idea for staying in touch with faraway granddaughters and grandsons, nieces and nephews.
In this post, Stortz mentions three publishers that produce recordable books: Hallmark, DaySpring, and Publications International. Using that as my starting point, here’s a sampling of what I found (it includes lots of grandmas and lots of bears)—
Conversations to Keep: Grandma and Me
That’s What Grandmas Do
My Grandpa and Me
Guess How Much I Miss You
Guess How Much I Love You
Under the Same Moon
What Aunts Do Best/What Uncles Do Best
I Love You So Much
I Love You Head to Toe
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You
Bright and Beautiful
All Day Long with Jesus
Bedtime Prayers and Promises
Sesame Street, Together at Heart
If . . .
And here are a couple for sending back the other way—
Susan Adcox, “Grandparents Expert” at About.com, writes that Hallmark recordable books are “pure magic.” “What child wouldn’t be entranced to open a storybook and hear it read in a grandparent’s voice?” she asks.
She goes on to compliment the recording process, calling it “practically foolproof.”
May 2, 2015 § 4 Comments
You’ve seen those images of all the fish swimming in one direction with one fish swimming agains the flow. The message: That one fish is the only one going the right way, despite the crowd.
It’s not always a lot of fun being that fish, especially when it seems as if you’re the one going in the wrong direction.
During what would become our last State-side service, I and my wife had decided that our time as missionaries would come to an end. But before making that public, I attended a missionary convention held by our fellowship of churches. I remember sitting with several thousand others in Lexington’s Rupp Arena, listening to a plenary speaker give a passionate call to the audience of potential missionaries. “Let someone else build the houses,” he said. “You follow Christ, go into ministry.”
Let someone else be a doctor or an attorney and argue cases in court. You go follow Christ. Let someone else teach in the public schools. You follow Christ. Listen, there will always be people who will go into all those other occupations. But there are a rare few who will say, “I’ll follow my Christ wherever he leads me.”
I’d said similar things, at least to myself. I should be on the front lines. Others would fill in behind. I’d told myself I could never settle for regular work. How could I ever be satisfied living a commonplace life in the US?
And yet, here I was traveling in the opposite direction, burned up and burned out. I was leaving the mission field, not heading to it. I was stepping away, hoping someone might hire me to build that house or teach that class. . . and in time, hoping just to get hired, for just about any job.
Five years ago, David Platt, mega-church pastor and now president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, wrote Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. I have a copy on my bookshelf, but I’ve never read it. I’ve heard good things about Platt’s book, and I’m sure it’s challenging. But it’s not the kind of challenge I’m looking for right now. The book I chose to read instead has a different kind of title. It’s The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People.
Pastor Matt B. Redmond wrote The God of the Mundane as a response to what he had heard himself preach many times:
Change your world. Change the world of someone. Anyone. Sell everything. Sell anything. Give it away. Do something crazy. Be radical. Make people stand up and notice. Take a risk. Jesus moved from heaven to earth and gave up his life and yet you—you just go about your daily life.
But in time, his ponderings, expressed in his blog, Echoes and Stars, led him to ask if there is a God for the bulk of people who live out their lives performing mundane tasks. “Is there a God, for instance, for those who are not changing anything but diapers?”
In his book, Redmond answers the question with a “Yes,” writing to and about stay-at-home moms, dental hygienists, plumbers, children taking care of elderly parents, and bankers. In a blog post, he addresses the youth of a church where he once ministered:
Don’t be afraid of being small. Too often I probably made it sound like if you were really serious about your faith, you should think about ministry. Being a teacher or doctor or farmer was not worthy of your time. Well, that’s just stupid. Don’t be afraid to be in a “small” part of the kingdom. Be ordinary and unknown and be content. That’s more radical than anything else you will hear in the church today.
When he wrote The God of the Mundane, one of the images in Redmond’s mind was of a banker, frustrated and stuck in a job he doesn’t love. After writing his book, he left his career in ministry and became that frustrated banker.
Before reading his book, I had left my position as a missionary and had become frustrated, too. So often in Christian circles, the missionary life is considered the opposite of mundaneness. Redmond refers to it that way, too. But he doesn’t believe that a mundane life, lived in devotion to God, is unimportant.
Neither does he believe that we should stop asking people if they are “willing to give it all and go overseas as a missionary.” “It’s not a bad question to ask,” he says. “There is no question in my mind that this question needs to be out there.” But he also wants other questions asked:
[A]re you willing to be numbered among the nameless believers in history who lived in obscurity? Do you have the courage to be forgotten by everyone but God and the heavenly host? Are you willing to be found only by God as faithful right where you are? Are you willing to have no one write a book about you and what you did in the name of Christ?
When someone studying for a non-missionary career asked him his advice on selecting a missionary biography, Redmond suggested she begin by reading one about a Christian banker.
By that I meant she needed to read a book about a Christian living a mundane life. She told me she could not find one. Figures.
I would characterize Redmond as someone who is trying to be content in his present occupation, but who is not satisfied. He struggles with wanting to do something that better fits who he is, but he doesn’t want to turn his back on those like him who are not doing the BIG THING. He admits that it’s often hard for him to accept his own advice with confidence.
I find myself in the same place. I miss so much of being a missionary and still want to be a part of that work and community. And yet I don’t believe that God loved me more, valued me more then than he does now.
I still have my copy of Radical. I plan to read it someday. Someday, but not today. Today I’m reading and rereading Redmond’s book.
Maybe he’s written the closest thing you’ll find to a biography about a “Christian banker.” But rather than writing about something he’d lived, he wrote it first and now he’s living it. And as he’s been writing in his blog, it’s the living of it that has given him a real understanding of his own words.
Life often works out that way. Figures.
(Barry Cameron, closing session, National Missionary Convention, Lexington, KY, November 21, 2010; Matt B. Redmond, The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People, Kalos, 2012; Matt B. Redmond, “Tuesday’s 10: What I’d Like to Tell My Former Youth,” Echoes and Stars, August 13, 2012)