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The Wayfarers – A Review by Iain Murray

Category Book Reviews
Date August 10, 2012

The Wayfarers – And the Challenge of the Great Dragon River
By Ruth Asp-Odlander
Burleigh, Queensland: Zeus, 2009
274 pages, paperback
ISBN: 978 1 92157 415 3

Among missionary biographies of recent years, this has to be one of the most challenging. Without the least attempt at the sensational, the author (b. 1935) tells the story of her Swedish parents who went out to Yunnan with the Swedish Free Mission in the late 1920s. That whole area of China, beyond Burma, was then little known, although faithful missionaries, including James Fraser among the Lisu, had been there for many years.

Using original documents and her own memory, Mrs. Asp-Odlander’s book falls into three parts: her parents’ pioneering work, their captivity in the Japanese occupation during World War II (when her father died), and her own difficult return to Sweden at the age of ten. The final chapter is a moving account of her return visit to Yunnan in 2001 and the discovery of a Christian witness continuing in the places where the gospel had been brought by her parents and others seventy years earlier.

Here is a picture of serious faith sustained through hardship, and lives motivated by ‘the fact that he had sacrificed himself and given his life for me.’ Unobtrusive Pentecostal belief comes into the narrative, and a question (unstated by the author) must humble those who believe that they have been given clearer biblical light, namely, why do our beliefs not lead to a greater number of missionaries? In the bibliography, Joseph Tracy’s book The Great Awakening is mentioned, and it is interesting to note the author’s reference to pastors Martyn Lloyd-Jones (‘speaking to thousands of enthusiastic young people’) and Stephen Wang in London in 1952 (226). Those who, like the reviewer, too seldom read a missionary title, should read this one. We have much to learn.

Notes

Reprinted with permission from the Puritan Reformed Journal, Volume 4, Number 2, July 2012.

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