I am a big fan of adventurous biographies: especially those of past missionaries. I am also unashamedly a Baptist. Therefore, Baptist missionary biographies are a real treat for me; mainly because good ones are few and far between. Of course, the most famous modern-day Baptist missionary is probably Adoniram Judson. I recommend reading a biography of his that I read in college called To the Golden Shore. The stories of other missionaries are great–especially John Patton, Hudson Taylor, Henry Martyn, and David Livingstone. However, each one of those men had something that kind of tainted my perspective on them when it came to church polity, the local church, soulwinning, and some doctrinal issues. They still are all great heroes in my mind, nonetheless.
On the other hand, I had very little to disagree with in a book that was recommended to me about a year ago. It truly changed my outlook on prayer, faith, and church-planting. Daktar: Diplomat in Bangledesh is an autobiography by Dr. Viggo Olsen about his conversion, call, and mission in East Pakistan (now called Bangledesh). Dr. Olsen grew up with a very intellectual education that denied the very existence of God. You may have even called he and his wife agnostic apologists. However, through the prayers of his wife’s parents, they were led to Christ under many miraculous circumstances. Viggo Olsen was trained to be an M.D. specialist in internal medicine. He was definitely on the high road to wealth in 1950’s America. God, however, had a different plan for his family. They surrendered to be medical missionaries to the poorest country on earth: East Pakistan. For the next few years of Bible and tropical disease training, his family served faithfully in their local church as teachers and soulwinners: never ceasing to bring people to hear their pastor preach the gospel.
They were sent by their church after deputation, and arrived on their field in the early 1960’s. He was not just the “typical” medical missionary. He believed whole-heartedly that the true way to heal men was to heal their soul: that was their first mission. Then they knew God did not want them to build some “rinky-dink” medical mission in the bush–they wanted to do it right! They built a modern hospital with dozens of beds for the people: rich or poor. The hospital was funded by churches all across the U.S. The best part: all under a some sense of a local church!
Over their years in the country, God led them through countless trials, physical persecutions by the Muslim majority, and tropical sickness. I would definitely say their ministry was a true success for God. I don’t want to re-write the whole book, but please consider reading it–not for college credit, education, or entertainment; but for you.