Author: Brian C Stiller
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
As the Global Ambassador of the World Evangelical Alliance, Brian C Stiller has visited more than 40 countries around the world. These visits have offered him insights into the modalities and complexities of life in those countries. His passion and keenness have helped him forge an understanding of the needs of the people in those places.
As he says, Often it takes travelling through a country before its geography comes into focus and conflicting issues begin to make sense.
Most of these countries are nothing more than dots on a map for us. Realities not our own,
Brian takes us out of ourselves and gets us to think about the lives Christians in these places lead, lives of religious control and persecution and, in worst cases, torture. He takes us through Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Korea, Albania, Romania, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey etc, a spread of nations from South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Many of these countries are still broken by Communism, the World wars, imperialism, tribal warfare and a host of other issues.
The book is written from the standpoint of the Evangelical Alliance, but I didn’t let that bother me. I thought that the prayers that Brian invited us to pray were heartfelt and so I joined in. After all, I do worship the same Crucified One.
Once inside a country, the author highlights the nation’s troubles through the example of one family or an individual, an example that both isolates the family or individual and holds them up for our notice. While showing us that it is just one instance of many others like it. Of people who served as witness to the Gospel by their lives, often amid difficult conditions.
Each chapter follows the same pattern: A brief history of a particular country, followed by information about its geographical location, the countries that it shares borders with, and the religions practiced by its people. Some of these countries have a high percentage of Evangelical Christians, others a lower percentage, many have a low percentage of Christians.
This section is followed by the dispatch relating to Brian’s visit there, followed by a passage from the Bible, and 3-4 points on which we readers are invited to ponder over and pray for, and finally a closing prayer.
Brian makes each country’s plight his own and writes feelingly about the travails that afflict different countries. He makes each cause for concern a reason to pray.
Some of the chapters relate to people whose lives are a witness to Christ. They include not only Evangelical leaders but also, surprise, the Pope, the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church. Other chapters are devoted to the World Prayer Movement, and issues like persecution and martyrdom, caring for the vulnerable, Prison Ministry, for Muslims, Mexican prisons, other prison ministries, and on finding new places of Spirit empowerment.
I faithfully prayed the prayers that Brian invited us to pray, and felt no need to question the veracity of the facts presented at the beginning of the chapter on each country. In the chapter on India, however, I found some glaring errors. Brian mentions that India was colonized by Germans, Portuguese and British. The truth is that the Germans never colonized India; the Dutch and the French did, apart from the Portuguese and the British.
Also, Christians in India do not form 7% of the population. Around 2% is the right figure.
Errors such as these lead me to wonder which other facts the author might have inadvertently got wrong.
I had no such grouse against the basic idea of the book, which forced me to think about people in the Third World, countries other than my own, homes to people considerably worse off.
As a general rule, one rarely thinks of others. Here one finds oneself thinking of issues like liberty, religious freedom, mortality, all in countries with unstable governance. For people who need our prayers.
Read this book. More importantly, pray for the intentions mentioned here. I think that is one way in which we can make a difference.
(I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House.)