Subscribe now

Not so secret

By Graham Orr
July 2013 | Review by Mark Pickett
  • Publisher: IVP
  • ISBN: 978-1-84474-591-3
  • Pages: 160
  • Price: 8.99
Buy this book »

Book Review

Not so secret
Graham Orr
IVP
160, £8.99
ISBN: 978-1-84474-591-3
Star Rating: 3

Graham Orr worked for a number of years in Japan with OMF before moving to Northern Ireland, where he now trains church members and missionaries in evangelism.

     Orr has gone through the experience of returning to his country of birth to find that it has changed hugely from the place it was when he left. This book is the result of his reflections on that changed reality, and the place of the disciple of Christ within it. His central thesis is, ‘God has chosen each of us to be “not-so-secret” agents in his mission to the world’ (p.14).

     Orr’s style is conversational and indirect, perhaps a product of his immersion in Japanese culture with its deeply face-saving, indirect communicational approach. You will not find an up-front list of topics dealt with point by point. Rather, Not so secret deals with topics by walking around them and observing them from different angles. So it took me a while to catch where the book was going.

     In each of the ten chapters, Orr tackles one aspect of what it means to be a ‘not-so-secret agent’, especially in the UK today. To do so he shares stories of his own ministry in Tokyo. These stories give insights into the difficulties of sharing the gospel with a people who are not familiar with the Bible — the situation in which Orr now finds himself back home. And Orr looks to the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels for biblical guidance on those themes.

     As you would hope from a person with long term intercultural experience, Orr is deeply sensitive to personal and cultural issues: ‘Everybody has a lifetime of experience before I meet them, and most of that experience is foreign and inaccessible to me. So I have had to learn to stop, look and listen. I need to watch and observe.

     ‘As I think and pray and love and wait, I remind myself that I know nothing about another person’s uniqueness, except what they explain and show to me. And so much more of that needs to happen before anything I can blurt out about Jesus will be meaningful to them’.

     But this is not just for full-time missionaries or gospel workers. Orr is at pains to help even the youngest and most inexperienced Christian realise their potential as witnesses of Jesus, in their place of work or study or home.

     For me, the shine was just a little taken off the book by two things. Firstly, a disconcerting sense, that I had from time to time, that Orr had just switched from writing about his life in Japan to his new life in Northern Ireland or vice versa; and secondly, the strange advice to ‘try placing a bet at a bookmaker’s’ (p.121).

     This book, then, will most likely appeal to students, and especially new believers who want to share their faith with their acquaintances but need some help along the way. It is personable, humane, wise (for the most part) and spiritual.

Mark Pickett
Bridgend

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Never Enough: Confronting Lies about Appearance and Achievement with Gospel Hope
Sarah Ivill

Never Enough is a well-written, thoughtfully structured series of ‘teachable moments’ based on the author’s own testimony of suffering from eating disorders and a battle between fitness and obsession. Ivill talks of how her need to be romantically loved made…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
God’s design for women in an age of gender confusion
Sharon James

Is our belief in male headship culturally outdated, and should we see alternative ideas of marriage as ‘progress’? Is it possible to be born into the wrong body, and is sexual freedom good for women? Does Scripture show us a…

Sexuality and Identity (trilogy)
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Sexuality and Identity (trilogy)
Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock

These three punchy books address pressing issues: what the Bible teaches about lust (on desire), about homosexuality (on Biblical sexuality) and about transgenderism (on identity). The trilogy approach keeps each book short and focused while dovetailing effectively. Each book has…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
A Beginner’s Guide To Church History
Philip Parsons

This book is a must-read for every Christian, which covers a wide period from the apostolic age to the church under Communism. There are numerous excellent works on church history, like Philip Schaff’s eight volumes, or Andrew Miller’s three volumes,…