Tuesday, April 18, 2017


I write this when I have just heard that we are to have a general election. It strikes me that Mrs May is taking a big risk. Consider the recent political miscalculations:
  • David Cameron called a referendum on Britain's place in the EU; result: not what he expected, followed by his resignation, and the start of the Brexit process.
  • Nobody thought Donald Trump stood a chance of getting the Republican nomination to stand for President of the United States; then nobody thought he stood a chance of winning the election. 
  • President Erdogan of Turkey called a referendum to give himself augmented presidential powers; he won 51% of the vote after some strong-arm tactics and when invalid polling slips were counted as well. 
It strikes me too that Pontius Pilate miscalculated. He asked the Jewish people gathered for Passover whether they wanted Jesus or Barabbas released to them. He thought that he could circumvent the Jewish rulers by going over their heads to the people, and get Jesus released. It didn't work; he claimed to be innocent, but bore the responsibility for passing the death sentence.

I say 'nobody', but of course we tend to believe what we want to believe. "Surely nobody would be so foolish ...!" We have to take responsibility for our actions, and for acting on sound principles and evidence.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The new WEC web shop

Those of you who may have tried to shop at www.worldmissionbooks.com may also have stories of frustration.You are certainly not alone - it has been a frustrating experience for it not to work well from our side too, and I offer my apologies to you.

But now our friends at CLC have come to the rescue. All our book stock is now there, and they are selling our books and despatching orders on our behalf. But they have also created a new web shop for us, where friends of WEC can buy from CLC. Prices include a 15% discount, and a commission on each sale will go to WEC. This applies to all books ordered through the shop, which includes all the books in stock at CLC, not just WEC books.

So go ahead and try it: wecbooks.co.uk

Friday, February 10, 2017

One more memory of Helen Roseveare

Some time in the 1990s, I think it was, Helen Roseveare was invited to be the speaker at WEC International's conference. She was given the topic of 'Fellowship', one of the four guiding principles of WEC. We had recently gone through the exercise of creating a mission statement. It began, "Working together, with the UK church and the worldwide fellowship of WEC, . . ." I recall that she spoke about "Working together comma". We had deliberately put that comma in, because we wanted to indicate that we were committed to working together in fellowship within our own ranks. Yes, we want to work in fellowship with the church and with our scattered colleagues around the world, but the rubber hits the road with those closest to us.

This principle of fellowship was added to the other three WEC 'Pillars' of faith, sacrifice and holiness at the instigation of Norman Grubb, who was deeply affected by the East African Revival of the 1940s and '50s. It requires sacrifice to put ourselves at the service of our colleagues and to be willing to confess to them when we are wrong. It requires holiness in attitudes of respect and love for all our colleagues, however difficult we may at times find them. But it is foundational to being the church of God that we live together committed to each other, recognising that we are all together the body of Christ.

The classic exposition of WEC's Four Pillars, including Fellowship
The tendency is for us all to do our own thing, and to hide from conflict and disrespect by hiving ourselves off from those we find uncongenial. That does nothing to build Christ in us. The result is that our light then shines less brightly, and our aim as WEC is to shine the light of Christ and bring others into that light.

Excellent, out of print, but may be available from your nearest WEC rep.
WEC teaches this principle of fellowship along with faith, sacrifice and holiness. We have also had a fair share of "rugged individuals" who ploughed their own furrow, inviting others to follow or join, but not necessarily fitting in with others or being open to correction or direction from other leaders. If we are not to be hypocrites, it is a principle we have both to learn and to revise from time to time.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Helen Roseveare and The Spirit of Revival

In 1999 a committee in WEC considered the reissue of an old classic, the story of the revival in the Congo of the early 1950s. The story was issued anonymously under the title This is That soon after the events it related, and consisted of extracts from missionaries' letters. I read a copy and was very impressed by it. Those who knew the book enthused about it.

But a new edition certainly needed changes. I tried out the title on a friend. "This is what?" was his reply. That title comes from Peter's speech on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:16, 'But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel' (KJV). It meant something to those familiar with the KJV, but was lost on a newer generation, and sounded odd. So it became The Spirit of Revival. We also credited it to Norman Grubb, the General Secretary of WEC at the time, who undoubtedly edited the material.

The content of the book also suffered from changes in language and culture since the 1950s, so I wrote to Helen Roseveare and asked her to consider writing a new introduction, taking into account various factors that I mentioned to her. She had witnessed the amazing events of the Congo Revival herself as a new missionary. She graciously consented, and what she produced for us was wonderful. Her new introduction dealt with all the aspects I had listed, but also included her own eyewitness account of the revival. It is worth reading by itself.

The book is now out of print, but still available from the publisher, Christian Focus, and used copies via several resellers. A book exists in print with the same title about the work of Jonathan Edwards; don't be confused by that!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Helen Roseveare

Dr Helen Roseveare, who has died aged 91, was a missionary doctor in the former Belgian Congo whose traumatic experiences during the Simba Rebellion paved the way for a worldwide ministry of writing and teaching

Born into a middle-class High Anglican family, Helen Roseveare made a commitment to Christ at Cambridge University in 1945. Shunning a lucrative career at home, she sailed for the Congo in 1953, setting up a hospital and medical training centre in Ibambi before renovating a disused leprosy clinic in nearby Nebobongo. Working with local Africans, she built this into a 100-bed hospital and training centre, and established 48 other local clinics.
All this was destroyed after civil war broke out in the newly independent Congo in 1964. Hundreds of expatriates and thousands of Congolese were executed.  Helen was one of ten Protestant missionaries imprisoned for five months, and was raped and beaten. Yet her experience of God’s love in this trauma shaped her life and ministry ever afterwards. She often spoke of the “sheer privilege” of serving Christ even through pain and setback.
“Through the brutal heartbreaking experience of rape, God met with me—with outstretched arms of love. It was an unbelievable experience: He was so utterly there, so totally understanding, his comfort was so complete—and suddenly I knew—I really knew that his love was unutterably sufficient.”
After time recovering at home, and a further seven years at a new hospital in Nyankunde, she settled in Northern Ireland in 1973. A string of books followed, notable for their profound Bible teaching and brutal honesty. She became a sought-after speaker, where she combined simplicity and humour with a passionate call to Christlike living. Many found her messages life-changing. Unusual at the time as a female speaker she was something of role model for young women and also served for many years as President of the Girls’ Crusader Union, a Christian youth organization.
Helen Roseveare continued these ministries well into her 80s. Her life has been portrayed in the 1989 film, Mama Luka Comes Home. She is survived by two sisters, Jean Ross and Frances Sinker.
He is interested in your relationship with himself. Let him take you and mould you as he will; all the rest will take its rightful place
“If you think you have come to the mission field because you are a little better than others, or as the cream of your church, or because of your medical degree, or for the service you can render the African church, or even for the souls you may see saved, you will fail. Remember, the Lord has only one purpose ultimately for each one of us, to make us more like Jesus. He is interested in your relationship with himself. Let him take you and mould you as he will; all the rest will take its rightful place.” ― Helen Roseveare, Give Me This Mountain
Dr Helen Roseveare, 1925 – 7 December 2016
(from the WEC International website)

All Helen's books are available from CLC bookshops and Eden.co.uk

Friday, December 2, 2016

God's Needle, Into the Land ... and getting ready for Christmas

Normally I would like to introduce here a new title. But I need to let you know about an older book that has been revised. Monarch published God's Needle by Lily Gaynor and John Butterworth in 2013.
It's an excellent story in which the light of Lily's inner life shines through, telling her story, and especially her work in a rural part of one of the world's poorest countries, Guinea-Bissau. An event in London looking back at the work of bringing the gospel to Guinea-Bissau was held in the summer, and this has led to a significant addition to the end of the book. I have had a sneak preview, and it is worthwhile. If you have lent your own copy and won't get it back, why not buy a copy of the new edition, out just about now. If you have never read it, why not? Don't deprive yourself any longer!

I do, however, have a new title to bring to your attention. Into the Land by Mike Dwight is a sequel to Out of the Desert. Both of these books take as their starting point the story of Moses, and challenge us to present ourselves unreservedly to serve God. Mike worked for many years with WEC in Thailand, then as a Regional Director in Asia, and now teaches with Betel International worldwide. These books work well together, but buy one, get hooked, and  then buy the other.

As I have said previously, our stock of books is now with CLC at their warehouse near Chester. CLC have launched a new web shop, clcbooks.co.uk. You will soon be able to buy all our titles at that shop. Meanwhile, why not visit it, and do some Christmas shopping there. This does mean that worldmissionbooks.com will shortly become redundant, and we will withdraw it. But you can still contact Gillian to order books.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Our books for kids

The other night I watched Miss Potter, a film about Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit and other animal characters. She took her first book to a number of publishers who rejected it, but the directors of Frederick Warne & Co gave it as a project to the youngest brother, who was just joining the firm. The book was an unexpected success, and Beatrix Potter's work continues to sell, making her one of the most successful children's authors ever.
It made me think again of the fact that children's books can easily and all too often be underestimated and undervalued. The simple fact is that, while adult book sales have been hit by digital forms and alternative distractions, children's book sales are booming. The Bookseller reports that "The UK children’s book market grew more than 7% in the first quarter of 2016 . . . Kids books are therefore on track to have a “very good year”, especially considering the market grew 5.1% in 2015 from 2014, when sales hit an “all time high”" Happily, there are a number of active and successful Christian publishers producing books for children at various reading ages.

Christian Focus Publications have produced two books in recent years for WEC: The Golden Chariot and 40 Days 40 Bites. The Golden Chariot is a collection of stories by MKs (missionary kids) produced for WEC's centenary, based on the unique experiences that MKs have as they travel the world. 40 Days 40 Bites is a family guide to pray for the world. Both are suitable for children of primary school age.

Christian Focus produce a number of other good books for children with a missionary theme. Dernier Publishing also have books with an international flavour. Christmas is coming. Books make excellent presents.