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ss triple helix - autumn 2000,  The Coming of the Rain (Book Review)

The Coming of the Rain (Book Review)

The Coming of the Rain: The biography of a pioneering missionary in Rwanda - Katharine Makower - Illustrated by Caroline Church - Paternoster Press Carlisle 1999 - £9.99 Pb 128pp ISBN 0853649685

This excellent book is a biography of Dr J E ('Joe') Church (Cambridge &St Bartholomew's Hospital), who worked as a missionary in Rwanda and Uganda, and was at the heart of the East African Revival from its inception in 1929 when he met a Ugandan, Sitneoni Nsibambi. The two of them studied what the Bible had to say about the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life. Not charismatic in the contemporary sense, that Revival, which spread all over eastern Africa, closely resembled the great revivals of the past. Countless Christians have been transformed into vibrant and courageous witnesses and evangelists, prepared even to die for their faith in Christ. Africa has one of the fastest growing churches in the world and the Revival, which still continues in many places with undiminished rigour, earns an honoured mention in the Lion Handbook, The History of Christianity.

A 'child of the Revival', John Sentainu, Bishop of Stepney, has written the introduction to the book, the style of which is easy and fresh, making you want to read on to find out what happened next.Based on unrivalled documentary material,the author sets Joe in his context amongst the other British missionaries and the Africans involved. Because Joe was not a skilled linguist, local Africans were very important to him in his medical tasks and preaching.He loved working with them as a team of brothers in Christ, and his transparent honesty and genuine valuing of them as people loved by God earned their enduring respect and warm affection. He was a cheerful encourager of others and great fun to be with, and he enjoyed sports, cars, game trekking and 'messing about in boats'. He was wont to come up with exciting but impractical projects until the realities were gently pointed out by his doctor wife Decie, nee Decima Tracey (Royal Free Hospital).

The value of this book is further enhanced by its highly topical final chapter on the terrible Rwandan genocide of 1994. The author has some interesting things to say, things which are equally relevant to the church worldwide as it continues to grapple with the age-old challenge of how to apply the fruits of personal salvation to the well-being of society at large.

Reviewed by:
John Billinghurst
Retired neurologist from Kent, formerly medical missionary in the Gambia

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