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ss triple helix - summer 2001,  Running for Revival (Book Review)

Running for Revival (Book Review)

Running for Revival - Ruth McGavin - Christian Focus Publications1999 - £6.99 Pb 350pp - ISBN 1 85 792 522 X

This biography of Harry (Henry Brash) Bonsall is written by his daughter who once lived with her ophthalmoIogist husband Murray in Afghanistan. It is recommended by George Verwer, International Director of Operation MobiIisation and has a foreword by Brother Andrew.

Harry, born in Preston UK in 1905 into a godly family tree, emigrated to Canada with his parents in 1913. He started preaching as a child. He stood up against modernism and was present at the start of the Student Christian Fundamentalist Society in 1925 which became the Canadian Inter-Varsity Fellowship of Toronto in 1928. This had links with the British IVF (now UCCF) and Douglas Johnson, CMF's first General Secretary, was responsible for sending Howard Guinness to work with them.

After years of training, ministry often in remote prairies, rather strange illnesses and being confined to bed for three years (where he learned to pray) Harry was led back to the UK in 1935 with a vision to start Bible Colleges to prepare for a revival which would happen after at least 50 years. He taught in several Bible Colleges, was held back by war and experienced opposition both from Spiritualists and from staff and students. Eventually the Birmingham Bible Institute materialised. He remained there over 35 years until he had handed on the responsibility to others and was called home at the age of 85 still longing to see the revival come. The marathon race is still being run.

Harry is unconventional, shy but a leader and a visionary who needed others to make the system work. He was greatly supported by his mother Gettie and later his wife Dosie. His proposal of marriage to her in 1949 was abrupt and providential in its timing. The accumulation of the property that became the Bible Institute resulted from steps of faith that caused his friend and accountant at one stage to threaten resignation. But at the end of his life his advice to others was to take the Red Sea Route, depending on God for an impossible sea crossing, rather than to take a clear-cut land route. He and Dosie made students and others a part of their extended family. He prayed for them and with them. It was not always clear when he was talking to them and when to God. He wrote theological books that were both academic and inspirational. There are many hilarious stories about him but behind them was a disciplined spiritual life, a commitment to a single vision and a teaching ministry based on the twin pillars of the Spirit and the Word.

Reviewed by
David Clegg

CMF Overseas Support Secretary

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