Ambassadors for Christ

By John D. Woodbridge
Chicago : Moody (1994). 352 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
6.2 (Fall 1995) : 265-267

Sixty tributes look at notable witnesses of Christ in treatments of three to ten pages each. The sections give compact biographies on Christians in a variety of missionary roles in several countries. The editor is Professor of Church History at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. He also edited More Than Conquerors and Great Leaders of the Christian Church, both winners of Evangelical Christian Publisher Gold Medallion Awards.

Some entries are very well-known. Others are unfamiliar to many, though not to God. For example, vignettes view William Carey, Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone, Billy Graham, Ruth Bell Graham, William Cameron Townsend, the Auca Five, J. Hudson Taylor, "Praying" Hyde, Jonathan Goforth, Peter Deyneka, Sr. and Jr., Edith Schaeffer, and Josh McDowell.

 It was special for this reviewer to see two alumni of Talbot Theological Seminary from the years he was a faculty member there. These are Josh McDowell, campus speaker in many countries, and Tokunboh Adeyemo, a church leader in Africa. And it hit close to home, as well, to find singing artist Steve Green, because Green's father and mother first invited and took him—the reviewer—to a group where he received Christ.

The writers are professors, missionaries, editors and writers, executives, pastors, etc. One finds a winsome presentation of much here. The book is set in two columns, often having various appealing, colored panels with thumb-nail sketches, summaries, or lists for reading.

The work includes some present-day personalities, such as Carl F. H. Henry, Joe Gibbs, Bill Hybels, Sammy Tippit, Billy and Ruth Graham, Ralph Winter, Tokunboh Adeyemo, and Josh McDowell. It has many others to whom the index at the end provides quick access.

Articles pull together key events, contributions in witnessing impact, illustrations, inspiring incidents, and heartbreaks. Frequent comments on devotional habits of these ambassadors are a feature.

Among the sad notes is a reference to Carey's first wife, Dorothy, who lost her health after the death of their son Peter, and her "ranting and raving at Carey, often in the next room as he worked to translate the Bible into Bengali . . ." (25).

Overall, the book is one of the most frequently challenging and refreshing this writer has read on the impact of Christ's enterprise. Speakers can find much to use for inspiration through their messages.

Sub-titles highlight key themes such as plodding (Carey), muscular Christianity (Peter Cartwright), rescue from alcoholism (Mel Trotter), Jesus's transforming power (John Perkins), a farmer reading the Bible (Victor Landero), faith (Hudson Taylor), "I Cannot Deny My Jesus" (Wandaro of Ethiopia), patient and gentle answers (Edith Schaeffer), being uncompromising (Peter Beyerhaus), having a will to get the message out on the campus (Josh McDowell and Cliffe Knechtle).

All knowledgeable readers will wonder why the volume passed over some names they think were (or are) of even greater significance. This is bound to differ with every reader, and of course, God's appraisal is the one that counts the most.