Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dan King's "The Unlikely Missionary"

A few years back, Dan King was something very familiar to all of us: a member of the holy order of pew-warmers, those of us who go to church, listen to the sermon, sing a few hymns, drop an envelope in the offering plate and bow our heads during prayers. Then we go home and live the rest of our lives.

Then King, a corporate trainer by profession, did something dangerous. He started a blog.  Oct. 15, 2008 – Blog Action Day – rolled around with a prompt to write about poverty. He did some research and wrote a post. He became interested in the topic, and wrote more posts. He began to write about organizations trying to do something to alleviate it. His posts got noticed. He started receiving news releases. He wrote and researched more.

He ended up spending two weeks in Africa. His life changed. The pew-warmer had become something else.

The story of what happened to King is told in his new book, The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty Fighter. And what a remarkable story it is.

Arriving in Africa, he experiences heartbreak and heartache everywhere he looks. The poverty, and what people have to do to survive, is staggering. The task and the problem is overwhelming. No one person or organization can tackle it alone (although King has a heart big enough to want to try).

But a representative of Five Talents, the organization he’s working and traveling with, tells him to focus on what he can do. He can do a little. Enough people doing a little can do a lot, just like the proverbial mustard seed. So he focuses on teaching small groups of eager people about marketing and other aspects of running their own businesses, elements of micro-finance projects that can jump-start new lives.

What glows from this book is how King experiences the “activation” of his faith. But it’s a smart and educated activation – he doesn’t rush in to do something but instead works with people more experienced and knowledgeable. In other words, he learns.

He has tremendous enthusiasm, but he knows tremendous enthusiasm can lead to equally tremendous burnout, especially in a place like Africa where the needs are so great. So he learns and applies the key lessons for change: educate yourself and do your homework; build relationships; be willing to try new things; take a few personal risks; be open and vulnerable; and always be ready to change the plan.

There’s much to love about The Unlikely Missionary. King speaks with a great passion, but it’s a passion tempered by the reality of the need. He didn’t become a poverty fighter overnight; it took time and the involvement, support and encouragement of a lot of other people.

And he speaks with experience. He raised the funds he needed to travel and spend two weeks in Kenya and Uganda. He travels in four ways: physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Though tempted at times to swing to wild enthusiasm or overwhelmed dejection, he keeps all of it in perspective.

And what results is faith – living, breathing, pulsating faith.

Faith the way it’s meant to be lived.


Information about the book: The Unlikely Missionary.

Dan King’s blog: Bibledude.net.


Patricia said...

I appreciate this review, Glynn. I'll be posting my review later this week. Dan's conversational writing style and enthusiasm is making this an easy and enjoyable read. I believe his story will be of encouragement to many in the body of Christ.

Sheila said...

This is a great review! I love this:

"He travels in four ways: physically, intellectually, emotinally and spiritually"

Maureen said...

Dan is to be commended highly for living out what others only talk about. I have seen first-hand the poverty in South Africa; it is at once unimaginable and all too real.

I wish Dan great success with his book. May it open eyes and hearts.

Nancy said...

I've held off on reading reviews of Dan's book because I haven't had the chance yet to read it for myself. Just couldn't help myself here, though. After reading your review, Glynn, I echo Maureen's comment. May it open the eyes and hearts of many.

moondustwriter said...

I wish everyone could experience the freedom of giving one's life in service to God and the forgotten.
Glad Dan could put this is a book that others might be challenged