I was so excited to be asked to review Gwen Toliver’s Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures for the Schoolhouse Review Crew! Missionary stories are some of our family’s favorites. We love to read accounts of people hearing and responding to God’s call. We love hearing about their adventures on the mission field. And, we love learning about the ways God interacted with people as He revealed Himself to them there.
My husband and I were privileged to live overseas while serving with a mission organization, back in the 1990’s, and it was a life that we loved. Living in a country that is not your native one opens the door for such a broad array of experiences, from learning how to communicate at the local market while you’re trying to buy food, to to navigating public transportation in your city, to building relationships with new friends and surviving language misadventures. I adored doing all of these. And, when you are living in a country that is not your own, it seems as though there are so many daily opportunities where you can see God move…maybe because you are so unfamiliar with how to make life work in a foreign country that your dependence on Him seems very real and very strong. Along with those daily adventures are the moments when a person really understands how much God loves her….or sees God move in his life….or opens the door of his heart to Jesus. It is a sweet life!
Gwen Toliver, her husband and their 8 children serve as part of Wycliffe Associates’ staff. Wycliffe has historically been an organization that’s brought written languages to tribes who’d only had spoken ones before; and from there, translated the New Testament or the Bible into newly-transcribed written words, so that these tribes and people groups could finally have access to God’s Word in the very language of their hearts. These heart languages are the ones we grow up with…think in…cry in….or rejoice in….the ones that form the foundation of our lives, regardless of how many other languages we may speak. Gwen spent two years meeting and interviewing Wycliffe missionaries, who were in a variety of life and career stages, about their years of missionary service. She heard stories that were by turns hilarious, heartwarming, terrifying and encouraging; of faithful people who went to dangerous places and faced illness, wild animals, and unbelievable challenges…who longed to bring the Word of God to those who didn’t have it yet. (It really reminds you of Hebrews 11!) She collected 21 of these stories in Seed-Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures, to create a fascinating account of short but inspiring tales that can be read alone or out loud to a group, for families or Sunday school classes or individuals.
We chose to include this book as part of our daily Bible reading. Each morning Jackson (my 6th grader) and I read a chapter of the Bible and pray for our day, and to this we read aloud a chapter of Seed Sowers. What adventures! Chopping a path through the jungle the wrong way (which turned out to be the right way); being misled on a language by fearful tribespeople, only to discover from a talking bird exactly the right dialect; seeing the transformation of a drunken, abusive thief into a kind and gentle husband and more. Adventure after adventure, experienced by Wycliffe missionaries in remote jungles and villages….it’s not only inspiring reading but action-packed as well! Although I never experienced adventures QUITE this wild as a missionary, the book was a wonderful reminder of those overseas days of moment-by-moment dependence on God and His surprises around so many unexpected corners.
Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures would make wonderful reading for late elementary-aged children on their own; younger children could enjoy it as a family read-aloud. And of course, teens and adults of all ages will find it captivating reading! It’s written in a conversational fashion that makes you feel as though you are hearing the stories from the missionaries’ lips, themselves; Gwen’s focus in the book is warmly communicating their stories and their adventures as though she’s sharing them with you over a warm cup of tea. She succeeds completely; from chapter to chapter you find yourself stepping into parts of the world you’ve never been before with faithful and loving workers, and there’s not a word put wrong that pushes you out of the story. You read intently to the end of each chapter….and then, you’re sorry it’s over!
If you’re looking for inspiring missionary stories for your experienced reader; for an adventurous family read-aloud; for a wonderful gift for someone you love or devotional reading for yourself, Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures would be an excellent choice. My entire family recommends it highly!
Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures may be purchased in softcover format from Grace and Truth Books here for $13.95. It is also available in hardcover ($30.95) and Kindle versions ($3.99).
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