Title: A Company of Heroes: Portraits From the Gospel’s Global Advance
Author: Tim Keesee
Major Themes: Missionaries, Missionary Life, Christian Living
Synopsis: A traveling missionary catches up with different missionary friends of his, and shares snapshots of the gospel’s progress around the world.
It’s hard to even know where to begin in reviewing this book. There was so much I appreciated in it, so much I felt like I could learn from, so much that struck a chord with me and made me stop and think.
A Company of Heroes starts out with a bang. Here you are, plopped down in Morocco (probably the first story I’ve ever read based there, by the way), watching as some people who aren’t in the safest location ever live out their faith and share with their neighbors. Then, along with the author, you wave goodbye to two traveling Peruvian missionaries who are willing to risk all to share the gospel with a more-unreached portion of the Muslim world. And that’s how it goes…whether you’re visiting the Arabian Peninsula, or Israel, or Salt Lake City, or England, or China, or Ethiopia, or Afghanistan, or Armenia, or Cambodia, each place has special people who have a heart to love and serve the Lord and share His wonderful salvation plan with anyone who will listen.
I loved how realistic this book was without making everything hyper-exciting. It’s just the journal from the author’s travels, basically, yet he does a great job of bringing you into the story with him—describing just enough of his surroundings so you can imagine it, then sharing the stories of his friends who are serving the Lord in their different locations. Along the way, we are also treated to different thoughts and gleanings pulled from others’ writings—Amy Carmichael was quoted at one place with a very moving allegory, and a story about a man who fought bravely with bad weaponry was told in another place. Each story, each section, is very purposeful. And by the time I got to the end, I was struck by the simplicity, power, and glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s all Him. As much as we may try to come up with programs, or routines, or plans, it’s His work in and through us that really makes the difference.
One other thing I really appreciated about this book is the realism shown as far as true missionary life is concerned. Yes, there are beautiful pictures painted of the work Jesus has done—what He has enabled His children to do. But this book doesn’t gloss over the other side of missionary life, either. The hard parts where the problems can seem bigger than the cross (oh yes, when we compare them, they aren’t…but don’t they feel so, sometimes, when we focus too much on them?). The questions that go unanswered…year after year. The pain of never being able to be fully understood by one’s own culture anymore, because you are irrevocably changed by lessons and experienced from the new one. The hopes and dreams that go unanswered, because there are always too many people to reach out to. Now, I may be putting things in Keesee’s mouth, but that is what I got out of it. And from my limited experience, and reading messages from friends and others on the mission-field, I know it’s all too true.
So in the end, while A Company of Heroes inspired me in many different ways, and encouraged me to be true to Jesus and share His amazing love right where I am now, I had several key takeaways. 1) I can pray for the missionaries I know. They have so many struggles—some that they just can’t share, and others that we just wouldn’t understand. Yet I can pray for peace, inspiration, and guidance for them. 2) The gospel of Jesus Christ has been and always will be a glorious message—and though His children can suffer terribly because they share it, the results are always worth the price. 3) God is still moving, even in places we think could be too difficult. NOTHING is too difficult for Him!
I requested a free review copy of this book from Crossway, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: People being beaten and some torture methods are mentioned in ch. 6. Some awful bombs and their after-effects described in ch. 13, and a man and woman are shot. The way the Indians practiced infanticide and widow-burning are described in ch. 14. Some of the horrors the Khmer Rouge did (including killing babies) is talked about in ch. 17.
Read Aloud—Family Read Alouds (with a bit of censoring at the places mentioned above in the warnings, or skipping parts of those chapters)
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults