“Lord, we are unworthy, we are weak, we are not excellent, but we want to go.”
Such is the prayer of a Honduran church leader in On the Way with Jesus by Richard Showalter. In this book, the president of Eastern Mennonite Missions combines his academic study of Anabaptist mission with rich personal experience.
In the foreword, Ralph D. Winter praises Anabaptist mission, saying the book, while a “treasure” for Anabaptists, is “an even greater surprise and pleasure for those of us who have not grown up in that sturdy movement and have so much to learn from people who have taken the Bible more seriously than any theological tradition.”
What makes Anabaptism “sturdy” is emphasis on discipleship, both in short term mission movements and an integral part of building relationships with new believers. Showalter writes repeatedly about life transformation, calling the reader to examine his or her own views and beliefs in comparison to Jesus’ mission term on earth.
Primarily, the book is an expression of Showalter’s passion for mission as well as a venue to promote discussion about challenging hot topics in doing missions at home and internationally. Some issues he raises include defining “success” in mission; the challenge of unity in an increasingly diverse church; the need for mission “at home” as well as abroad; short term mission as a positive global movement; and the idea of Muslim followers of Jesus.
The post-Christian mindset of the West should not discourage or dissuade our efforts to spread the good news, says Showalter. Instead, he draws encouragement from the rise in number of missionaries being trained and sent from Latin America, Asia, and Africa to the rest of the world.
For those who live mission 24/7, this book will affirm, promote, and challenge you to continue the journey. For those who are just beginning to explore the world of mission, it will provide a short history lesson, a look at the current focus of the movement, and guidance for where it needs to move in the future. Showalter poses many questions and encourages readers to think through why and how we do mission in the 21st century.