Ruth Tucker's "From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya" provides an excellent biographical history of Christian missions. It has come to be, if not a "classic," must reading for those contemplating God's missionary call. The rapid advancement of technology worldwide, coupled with the recognition of new mission strategies, suggests that this second edition (2004) should soon be replaced by a third. The author is to be commended for her research into the lives of dozens of those who have given their lives for the cause of world evangelization. Some of these "heroes of faith" are better know to us than others, and their stories are more fully documented through their biographies and autobiographies found elsewhere. This book serves as a prod to pursue those stories further. None of the biographical sketches contained herein are complete, although most serve as instructional and inspirational. Tucker does a good job of pointing out both the sacrifices and the outcomes of mission commitment. In other words, these are not mere idealistic tales that paint "successes," but also contain the "failures" and human side that tell the whole story of missions. My criticisms of the book are few, one being her inclusion of some examples of those who may not be considered doctrinally sound by the evangelical community. In addition, Tucker seems to go out of her way to commend the status of women in missions, often showing how male-dominated mission boards limited their roles. She is not totally unjustified in doing so, but the frequency of her examples at times appears to overstate the case. Some of her comments and descriptions are redundant, a common malady for writers when describing so many characters and their exploits in one volume. Despite these minor shortcomings, this book is well worth the time invested in reading it. It should not be rushed through...the reader is encouraged to take his/her time lest the stories run together. The closing section includes a bit of autobiography that leaves the reader with the challenge to remain open to the call of God to missions...a call that, more often than not, comes to the ordinary disciple of Christ and not one having extraordinary human abilities.
I bought this book because I desired to have a better overview of the history of missions. I wasn't looking for something academic, but something that could help jump start me into reading more missions biographies. I have absolutely loved it, and I can't put it down. It is an easy read because it tells the stories of people, which are exciting, adventurous, and really challenge my faith. It also helps because it gives lot of good starting and stopping points depending on how much reading time I have. I would highly recommend this book!