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Swift and Beautiful – The amazing stories of faithful missionaries

By David B. Calhoun
August 2021 | Review by Jon le M. Trac
  • Publisher: Banner of Truth
  • ISBN: 978-1-84871-938-5
  • Pages: 240
  • Price: £6.25
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Book Review

‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news’ (Romans 10:15, NIV) concludes each of the ten chapters of this book, which takes its title from the Frances Ridley Havergal hymn ‘Take My Life’.

Swift and Beautiful is a series of beautifully written potted biographies which run chronologically from John Eliot, one of the earliest Protestant missionaries, through to Mary Beam and Betty Cridland, who died in 2002 and 2003.

Some like David Livingstone are well known, others less so, though all are inspiring in their own way. These servants of the Lord saw people coming to faith in Christ, sometimes in the tens of thousands, as the gospel was proclaimed.

A striking feature is the impact of the gospel on society. Livingstone’s impact on the suppression of the slave trade and Henry Sheppard’s exposure of human rights abuses in the Congo are examples of changes for the better. Another impact observed is the unifying effect of the gospel among people from diverse cultural and social backgrounds.

Great saints of God have feet of clay, and we read of serious moral failures and examples of parenting that would be difficult to accept in the present climate.

David Calhoun, who died in April 2021, was Emeritus Professor of Church History at the Covenant Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America. His choice of subjects tends to reflect the ethos of the college. The references at the end of the book are of value as they evaluate the various sources used and point towards further reading.

I have no reservations about recommending this title. It should be a blessing to all, from the new Christian to folks who have been on the way for decades.

Jon le M. Trac


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