This book tells the story of Rolland & Heidi Baker’s remarkable ministry amongst the poor in Mozambique. After briefly covering the story of how they met and married, and their missionary work prior to Mozambique, the story quickly moves on to focusing on how they started reaching out to the poor with practical help and the gospel. The story covers about six years from 1995 to 2001, which includes the devastating flooding of 2000.
A number of features stood out for me in this book. First, though they are working in one of the bleakest situations in the world, the book is anything but depressing and melancholic. Even when reporting the most tragic situations, they speak of the joy of seeing what Jesus was doing in the lives of the people there.
Second, while they report many amazing miracles, there is no romanticising or glamourising of their work. They are honest about setbacks and difficulties in the midst of amazing reviving work of the Holy Spirit.
Third, the book presents a passionate call to its readers to lay their lives down to serve the poor and needy without ever resorting to guilt manipulation, emotional blackmail or condemnation. Rolland & Heidi have an incredible capacity to love the most broken and needy people, and it seems to me to stem from an equally passionate love for Jesus. They are not living for this world. The challenge comes from realising that we need our own love for the Lord to increase so that he might change our hearts to love others more, and become less attached to the passing material possessions of this life.
Fourth, though both Rolland & Heidi are highly qualified in theology, it is clear that they devoted to simply presenting the gospel. This is not a book trying to prove that God is blessing them because they have got all the fine details of eschatology and eccleisolgy worked out. Their humility in this regard is striking. The book starts with Rolland saying that he wanted to believe and live the Sermon on the Mount – if Jesus says we can trust him without worrying about tomorrow then we can. You can see this worked out practically in the rest of the story, as they preach the gospel of trusting Jesus to these people who are poor financially and poor in Spirit.
If the book has a weakness, it is that the story is not always filled in in as much detail as I would have liked. Some chapters are written by Rolland and some by Heidi, and they include diary entries. There are lots of little details that fill in interesting aspects to life in Mozambique, but in some places I felt there were gaps in the story.
In one chapter, they tell of a vision one of the children had. It was of Jesus saying that he was coming again, sooner than they expected. But he also said that feast was prepared but the church was not ready. They needed to wake up. The poor had not yet been invited to the feast. This is the heart-cry of this book. The poor must be invited to the feast. Heidi says, “we should stop every single time for each person”. I can recommend this book as one that will inspire you, encourage you, and call you back to a first love for Jesus and a love for the lost.