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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Reviews: A Place of Healing, Missionary

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada is a transparent book that reveals Joni’s questioning about her own chronic pain, quadriplegia, and what she believes about God. Very well written, it begins with a zealous young man telling her she didn’t have enough faith for God to heal her, the time she went to a faith healer’s meeting, and so many things that she has learned over the more than forty-five years since she was paralyzed. Joni addresses God’s sovereign will, why He allows suffering, the good that comes through weakness, and the very real day-to-day struggles she faces. She talks about contentment and joy along with pain and needing people to help her with almost everything. She tells some hilarious stories, like the time she traveled with a blind friend—just the two of them—on a plane.

I laughed and cried and thought how many times God has been bringing these concepts to my attention lately. Should we question God? Or should we question just enough to get answers? Are there always answers—or do we move ahead in the faith that the Lord has a purpose in every situation, be it physical suffering or emotional? When we belong to Jesus, God has a plan, a purpose.

Joni knows that God has used her in a special way because she is a quadriplegic. She would never have had the opportunities to share the gospel without the special platform she has because of the grace He has given her in the midst of her suffering. She has purpose and a reason to get up and go to work each day.

A Place of Healing ends with a few chapters with stories about people who have been blessed through the ministry of Joni and Friends. They are absolutely wonderful stories of how God put two unlikely people together to meet a special need. Sometimes, it’s a fitted wheelchair . . . or encouragement.

There are a very few points where I differ with Joni’s theology and ecumenical inclusivity, but overall, this book is one of the most inspirational books I’ve read this year. Joni shows a deep understanding of the Bible when it comes to the subjects of healing, faith, suffering, and hope. I definitely recommend it for anyone. (I would personally recommend reading this book after doing Betty Henderson’s excellent Bible study about the book of Job, Grace for Every Trial, reviewed here.)

Missionary: An Unexpected Journey of Following God’s Call to the Other Side of the World by Christopher Marco is the delightful, first-person story of how Marco (if that really is his name) goes from Joe Citizen to being a missionary in Asia. It’s like reading a diary of his call, his adjustments—along with his wife and baby—and his first interactions with the people and culture. It’s how he and his family got the life call to missions.

Very well written, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Okay, I admit it; I am a missionary, so a lot of the things he expresses hit a chord.

I love his introduction, as I remember a time when I felt exactly the same way: “When you think of a missionary, a blurry image probably comes to mind. You might think of a brave soul, one of superhuman faith, without sin, walking daily in miracles the rest of us long to see once in a lifetime, joyfully giving up privilege for the sake of the higher call . . . . Wait a second, that’s not what I thought of. When I thought of a missionary, I thought of someone who is socially awkward, wearing clothes that look a little funny, who talks about things normal people don’t care about, a person forced out of their own culture and striving for acceptance in another. Then I became one.”

The rest of the book is about Marco’s vision, his trip to the field, his cultural and language adjustments, his feeling like a foreigner, his guilt over separation from family, his first attempts at being a missionary and the surprising—and not surprising—responses to his mostly one-on-one ministry to university students. Then, it’s about what God did in his heart through ministry, lessons he learned, and his call to go back, and back, and stay.

Except for his infrequent use of a vulgar word, I loved this book. Marco gives us an insight into real missions. He is transparent and lets you understand it all. The style is talky, and the writing is excellent. Though I probably would not worship in exactly the same way he describes and I might have a couple of other differences with him, I think Marco has communicated very well the need, the heartbeat, and the reason for missions, along with his personal dedication to reaching the lost. I recommend it to the discerning reader.


  1. They both sound like excellent books. I love how you mention the caveats just enough to make readers aware of possible issues but without spending too much time on them. I need to work on that more.

    1. Thank you, Barbara. I think you would really enjoy them both.


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