When you read missionary prayer letters, what do you expect? Sensational stories? A string of unbroken triumphs?
Would you like to know things as they really are?
Here’s the truth: Missionaries do see victories. But the mission field isn’t romantic in the least. Sometimes it’s downright heartbreaking. The daily reality of the mission field is grueling and often disappointing.
I know this because I know missionaries personally (and even familially). But I recently read Amy Carmichael’s Things as They Are, and I was reminded in a fresh way of the real spiritual warfare missionaries face.
In Amy’s direct—but winsome—style, she describes the raw realities of the mission field. The heartbreak, the struggles, the weariness, the needs, the rejection, the hurt…and the imposibility of doing any work for God without His power.
As I read this book, it stirred my heart both for missions and for intercessory prayer—for missionaries and for fields without laborers. One of the strongest quotes in the book to me was the question, “Are we coming, giving, praying till it hurts? Are we praying, yea agonising in prayer? or is prayer but ‘a pleasant exercise’—a holy relief for our feelings?”
If you have a heart for missions—and even if you don’t—I encourage you to read this book. It’s not an emotional appeal. It is a reminder of realities in fields all over the globe today. A bit of the specific content is outdated (i.e. the exact forms of human trafficking in India today), but even so, it’s not far from current truth.
Several versions (including kindle) of the book are available for free through Project Gutenberg. I would say, “download, and enjoy.” But frankly, this isn’t a book to be simply enjoyed. It is captivating, but it’s not simply pleasure reading. It is a book to challenge your prayer life, stir your soul, and realign your heart with the realities of God’s passion.