This is my attempt to review a work that has stirred me to the core. David Joannes, founder of Within Reach Global, has written a second outstanding book entitled:
In “The Mind Of A Missionary” Joannes cuts through the noise of the sometimes confusing “missional talk” and has prepared for us a healthy distinction of definitions. We have the overarching theme of God’s glory as a funnel through which all the book can rightly heard. Referencing John Piper’s helpful reframing of the Q and A format of the Shorter Westminster Catechism is a great foundation.
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: To glorify God BY enjoying Him forever.
Joannes seems to skirt along a blurring frontier of genre boundaries again. Of course, that makes sense given his pioneering nature. As the fog of the opening narratives in each chapter settle, we see Joannes backpacking along and across the borders of devotional, biblical, academic, historical, journalistic, psychological, biographical, and autobiographical. He brilliantly measures his words fairly within each section of overlap, giving weight to the gravity of the topics and exploring the liberty of lively storytelling.
In fact, the title and subtitle just barely hint at how deeply these words cut. Tim Keller explains the Biblical usage of the term “heart” as having been understood as the seat of the emotions. This means the term was devoid of all the di- and tri- and so on- chotomies of the heart, soul, and mind that we have today. In our age of neuroscience, Joannes does something similar with the term the “mind”.
This book is brilliantly written such that an entire blog and review could be given to that point alone. However, the power and impact is not in its eloquence; it is in the power and passion of the message.
This work has pieces of autobiographical content but moves clearly beyond from the freshman release “The Space Between Memories.” Every good artist leaves a piece of themselves in their work. It’s our rip off of what theologians call the Imago Dei, God’s creating mankind in His image. With that in mind let’s dig a little into the mind of this specific missionary:
Q. Who dare delve into such a daunting subject as the mind of missionary?
A. A missionary who seeks to faithfully serve God by helping raise up a generation of “thriving Kingdom global workers.”
Joannes is careful not to overstate and to be carefully balanced. Perhaps this comes with the challenge of reading a book a week over the course of a year and reviewing a good many of them. You can check out that journey on his blog, here. Many of these books were part of the hard work that the author put into crafting this masterpiece.
Much like his approach to ministry, Joannes is open and brave. Aware but unconcerned with the divisions amongst so many theologies and methodologies in Christianity today, he keeps Jesus at the center and partners with everyone else who does the same. The author doesn’t mind taking examples from the entire spectrum of Christian workers. In fact, this aspect seems strategic. I think this reveals his passion for not only learning from different streams of orthodox believers but also of working together and with them towards Great Commission faithfulness.
Each chapter takes the reader through the raw realities of missionary life through short summaries of past and present missionaries. You have may heard the stories of Hudson Taylor, William Carey, or Jon Elliot before but have you considered what made these men tick?
The author takes readers deep into the personhood and some of the lifestyle of a missionary.
Authenticity with no purpose is like vomit and my generation seems to lap it up and return again and again to it. This piercing kind of speech is much different. Forget the bells and whistles of both extremes, the Lifetime glossy perfection and the HBO shock and awe. These points of internal and external motivations as well as risks and rewards are very strategic and precise like a scalpel cutting through to what needs to be seen.
In fact, The discussions here ought to be had more frequently. We can speak in glowing terms of missions and missionaries but it’s best not to romanticize, even if by omission.
Perhaps the implicit, even artful unveiling of the pedagogical elements in these chapters are most compelling because they are a sneak peek into the mind of the author himself.
He has so much to say and I plan on hearing it all. Thanks Brother David for writing a healthy and robust perspective on the greatest story ever told. This will no doubt be a tool in the hands of God and in the hands of His global Kingdom workers, helping them all to thrive on mission until the end.