I make it a habit to read the foreword or intro or whatever they offer to give you a glimpse of the purpose for the book. In this case there was a short essay from each of the authors on the back of the book as well. Not knowing anything about these authors I had to read that. And wow, the long list of ministry accomplishment was impressive. But then I read that Kris (one of the authors) was the co-founder of a “Supernatural Ministry.” These phrases straighten me up from my lounging position, no doubt (!). I don’t know about you, but my scope of Christian navigation does not usually include supernatural ministry. So anyway, then I flipped over to the intro and there was a pretty startling statement, too, “I believe her [Tracy’s] story has the potential to be the next Pilgrim’s Progress…” Really?! This I had to read…
Outrageous Courage What God Can Do with Raw Obedience & Radical Faith by Kris Vallotton & Jason Valloton is the story of Tracy Avens, a physician assistant, missionary work (of over 30 yrs). It is obvious that Tracy is very dear to the authors and that is why they felt compelled to tell her story. They know her witness and work first hand. The book gets your attention from the start as it describes Tracy’s near death experience in the jungles of the Philippines. And it does stay true to its title – it takes you on a radical and raw journey of missionary work. All throughout the book you are attached to your seat and one minute you’re shaking your head and the next you’re bursting into tears. It also gives you a sad and clear picture of the depravity of men near and far; and the desperate need of the good news of the gospel in all the different nooks of the big cities and forgotten places around the world. In that sense Tracy’s story made me pray all the more for God to raise up more missionaries. Her faithfulness from the moment she breathed new life in Christ is remarkable, and I would say worthy of a book written about it.
But I confess many parts of this book frustrated me. She would speak in a way, again my circles of Christian friends do not use, which at times caused me to wonder the validity of some of her “callings.” She would hear God speak to her and tell her to do this or that. She would have dreams that she would then interpret as God speaking to her. She never seemed to pursue counsel from her pastor and elders to help her discern the validity of those callings. How did she know it was indeed God and not what she desired to do? Just on a whim that was God’s call and off she would go. Anyhow, in some places, she was the church: their leader, and their sole source of Christian teaching. I know the nature of missions sometimes looks that way. But this was as a result of her following some of those so called “callings.” (I guess if you’re going to tell someone story you have to tell the good, bad, and the ugly.) And finally, there were the bizarre and miraculous accounts. Here, I stopped putting question marks on side of the book…no use in wondering and questioning. She was not claiming to be the healer or the performer of those miracles just the witness. So I read it and moved on.
This book has a good dose of mysticism and a token of rational and biblical thinking, too. It recognizes Tracy’s faithfulness, in a world that is broken and not easy to serve. At the end of the day, though, it points you to Christ, not her, or her good deeds. I praise God for her love for Him and the work she continuous to do.
I would recommend this book. And if you read it, read it with an open mind.
***This book was provided for free to us through Bethany House Publishing. Our reviews and thoughts are entirely ours.