After my dad went to heaven on Easter, I had few words to say. So I didn’t. For a long time, I just listened. I wrote in private places like my prayer journal, my planner, and handy scraps when occasional moments of inspiration intersected words. In the quiet of stepping back, I’ve been surprised at the excess of words in our world. The best words bring understanding about life’s purpose. I’ve been most drawn to those in these quiet months.
While God’s words bring understanding and give purpose, other books have also been healers. I never expected God to use a missionary biography as comfort, but He did. Before Dad passed away, I agreed to read and review An Asian Harvest about the life of missionary Paul Hattaway, author of The Heavenly Man. Mostly, I love Asia and wanted to read about people groups I love. In a world of excess words, I was refreshed by this life showing God is in control and sovereignly working out life’s purpose.
An Asian Harvest: God at work
As a youth, Paul Hattaway was told he was “A waste of oxygen.” Since I work with vulnerable children and families, I know many young people are scarred by words like those. As I read about the early years of Paul’s life, he was clearly born into generational abuse. A long list of strikes against him made him the last man you would envision to grow up and courageously impact people for Christ. But as the writer quotes from Charles Spurgeon, “It is extraordinary power from God, not talent, that wins the day.”
More than a story about a great man of extraordinary accomplishments, this is the story of a great God who accomplished extraordinary things through a man. This is the record of total life change for God’s purposes. And while my dad didn’t end up in Asia, his life was totally changed too. Stories such as An Asian Harvest inspire us with confidence God can change any life and use it for good. I do well to listen to more words like these and fewer empty and frantic ones.
Paul Hattaway tells of God’s work in his life across the world, especially in Asia. By chronicling the story of how God produced a harvest from willingness, it’s clear to see how countless lives were changed because Paul’s life was changed. Thousands of Bibles were delivered and still are because Paul said, “Yes” and because his wife Joy courageously served alongside him.
Hattaway writes, “I have come to understand that God doesn’t need the big and powerful to achieve His purposes. Instead, He loves to display His power through weak vessels, ‘to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.'” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
An Asian Harvest: God’s purposes
I read An Asian Harvest while driving along the Columbia Gorge of Oregon with our family. Today the forests that lined that highway are charred and dead from wildfires ravaging the land. The earth and all in it are not permanent. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever,” (Isaiah 40:8). There’s a lot about life to make us hang our heads in grief or worry. The loss of a loved one like my dad. Losses caused by wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and violence. I’m so glad for the timely release of An Asian Harvest, which helped me lift my eyes and remember God works throughout all times, in every place, in every hardship, and in every life. Our days are “like a passing shadow,” (Psalm 144:4b) but God gives them meaning.
An Asian Harvest was my “vacation book” this summer, where skyscraper trees, shrouded cliffs and massaging waves illustrate God’s action. It was only right, then, that Paul Hattaway’s life should point, not to himself, but to God. Yesterday, our new pastor said, “It’s not about me … The hero of this story is Jesus. It’s never about me. I would never attempt to share in God’s glory.” An Asian Harvest accomplishes this so well. A reassuring read. A confident read. A comforting read. An inspiring read. Paul Hattaway’s life story tells of God’s glory, and that made for a great read.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom,” (Psalm 90:12). Life is fleeting, but God works in powerful ways, and it’s so good to read about a long life of faith that shows it.
You can purchase a copy of An Asian Harvest through Kregel Books.
I received a copy of the book for review, but I do not receive any compensation for purchases made by clicking the link.