Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Seed Sowers Book

Sometimes being on the Schoolhouse Review Crew affords me to the opportunity to review something that benefits me as well as Gess.  As the women's missionary leader in my church I find stories about the adventures missionaries endure truly inspirational.  The book Seed Sowers - Gospel-Planting Adventures by Gwen Toliver arrived at such a perfect time in my life that it became an encouragement and motivation that helped get me through some trials of my own.



My mom was recently hospitalized with heart failure and I had this book I needed to read and review.  My intent was to do it more of a read along with Gess and use it some in our studies.  We have managed to do that with one story so far, but due to the family crisis that is about all we have done together.  I, however, have read the book myself while mom was in the hospital and it was absolutely a God send!  Reading about the trials and tribulations these people faced and the miraculous means in which God intervened in their lives left me thankful in the midst of my mother's hospital stays, tests and procedures.  I went from being anxious to realizing that we were truly blessed.  Here we had all the luxuries of modern medicines, were in a sterile environment and had plenty of food to eat while one missionary almost died from a rare form of malaria without any help immediately available.  There was no calling an ambulance there, instead they had to beg help of people who weren't especially eager to give it.  Can you imagine how frightening that would be?  But God is there for you, even in the jungle.  He was certainly with Lynn Landweer who had two types of malaria at once.  In spite of it all she completely recovered and returned to her missionary work!  God is so incredible!


The book Seed Sowers has 21 chapters and in each of them is a short story about a trial or accomplishment that a missionary or missionary couple faced in order to get the Word of God into the hands of remote people groups.  The missionaries in this book are not your standard missionaries.  They were bible translators whose job was not only to share the gospel but to learn the language of the tribes they were sent to so they could write the bible in their heart language.  Many times these are groups of people that had never been contacted by outsiders before.  This mission was dangerous, treacherous and very time consuming and yet the results were absolutely remarkable.

The work they did was more than remarkable, it was down right miraculous and there is no way of denying that it was the very hand of God who was at work in the getting the written Word of God into the hands of these people.  We live and serve a God who is living and active in our lives and with Him all things are possible.  He certainly worked in a way in which there was no question about the fact that it was God Himself who was at work.  Each missionary humbly followed God and they give all the credit to Him for the work that they have done.

As I mentioned before, the job of a bible translator was time consuming.  Some of these missionaries worked their entire lives and some are still active today.  It took years to go from making the first contact with people groups to actually learning their language in such as a way as to translate it into text. Consider this.  The Machiguenga New Testament was completed in 1976 by the Snells.  Years later their 17 year old son helps Harriet fields and Hattie Kneeland make the first contact with the Matses.  Harriet and Hattie continued to live among the Matses in Peru for several years.   Their New Testament was not complete until 1994!  Here is a picture of Harriet and Hattie with some of the Matses of Peru.  I will be sharing their entire story with my ladies mission group this week.  I know it will really move them to get more involved in supporting bible translation efforts.



Many of these people had unusual languages.  Some were tonal which meant the tones of their speech could change the meaning of a word.  Some had as many as 4 tones to learn, or at least they thought.  One missionary stumbled upon a group that had more!

George and Florence Cowan had one such language to decipher. They found out through a very comical story that the tone of the Oaxaca was so important it could be whistled instead of spoken and still completely understood!  This story inspired me because there was a girl who so wanted to learn about the bible that she willingly suffered beating after beating from her mother in order to hear the stories from the Bible.  After being saved she movingly displays what it means to live out the words of Job 23:12 "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."  You can visit the Seed Sowers the Book website and actually hear the whistling man whistle some phrases for you in this language.

I really appreciated how the author was careful to put the proper pronunciation in for each tribe.  With names like Ashaninca, Caquinte, and Machiguenga it is good to know how to properly say the name.  While learning about the missionaries and their stories you also learn about the people, cultures and places.  This makes it a great tool to use with your homeschool family.  You can learn about what missionaries do as well as learning about different cultures and regions around the globe.  Until reading the book I had no idea what a tapir was but it is described in the book as "a cross between a cow and a pig with an elephant trunk."  Apparently it was good to eat too.  Here is Gess checking out some images online to see what they look like.  They really are peculiar!


In each chapter there is one special story or event that the missionary shares.  These special moments give us a small glimpse into what life must be like as a bible translator to unreached people groups.  At the end of each chapter there is a paragraph or two that updates us about how that story ended.  They give the year that the translation was finally completed and whether or not some work is still in progress.  They also tell whether the missionary is still living and if so what they are doing today.

There is so much that goes into translating God's Word into a people groups heart language.  Your heart language is the language you were born and raised using.  It's what you fall back on when in trouble, it's what you use when conversing with your children and during intimate family conversations.  I can't imagine having to try to read God's Word through the scope of second language.  I know that it's true meaning is evident to me because I can read it in my own heart language.  I am thankful for the people who strive so diligently to make sure that others have that opportunity as well.  I encourage you to pick up this book to not only learn about some inspiring missionaries who have given up everything to help get the Word of God into the hands of unreached people groups, but to remind you that there are many left who still have not heard the good news.  This book is definitely high on my "must read" list.

The Seed Sowers book by Gwen Toliver will be enjoyed by most any member of your family, young or old.  It can be purchased through Grace and Truth Books for $12.50.  You can also purchase an ebook version by visiting Seed Sowers the Book website which has more information about the book, some photos and an excerpt of the book for you to read.  There is also an interview with the author that explains a little bit about her work, what is in the book and why she wrote it.  You can read the other reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew by clicking on the banner below.

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1 comment:

Gwen T said...

It's encouraging to hear how God used the stories in Seed Sowers to bless you in your own difficulties. Thanks so much for your review!

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