In Wheaton, Illinois, where I live, I'm surrounded by families who have fled their countries, leaving war, famine, political oppression, and sometimes religious persecution. Our small church is blessed to occasionally have one of these families join us. The depths of faith forged in hardship often overwhelm us. We are also reminded that millions of our foreign-born brothers and sisters, and millions more living without the hope of the gospel, continue to suffer.
These people, living in dangerous settings, are the subject of Tim Keesee's book Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World's Difficult Places (Crossway). Keesee, founder of Frontline Missions International, compiles stories from his travels to places where Christians live with profound suffering and joy. Though some of the accounts lack context, and some of the language veers into the sensational, Keesee's stories and vivid writing bring the reader close to heroic and suffering people around the world.
Keesee's organization originally produced a DVD series that documented his travels. The book follows a similar format, giving vignettes of places and people across the globe. In some places, we learn about the political and religious history through Keesee's tours of museums and historical sites, which adds a rich context to the stories of missionaries and local believers.
At other points, the book fails to supply relevant background information. Keesee tells the harrowing stories of believers in Pakistan, fearing for their lives during a night of anti-Christian rioting he experienced firsthand. But he neglects to mention the political upheaval in that country, which would have helped to make sense of the violent ...