IN PRISM'S BOOK BAG: BECOMING A WORLD-CHANGING FAMILY by Donna S. Thomas (Baker Books)
reviewed by Pamela Robinson
In BECOMING A WORLD-CHANGING FAMILY: FUN AND INNOVATIVE WAYS TO SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS, author Donna Thomas issues the clarion call for Christian families to participate in Jesus' Great Commission: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matt. 28: 19).
As founder of Christian Vision Ministries (www.cvministries.org), Thomas has followed Christ's call since the 1960s, ministering and helping others to minister in the United States, China, India, Russia, Egypt, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and across Latin America. Her book provides imaginative and heartfelt ideas for contributing to Christian missions that any Christian family can apply.
She encourages us, for example, to join in the mission field right at our doorstep. Since America is a multicultural nation, Thomas reminds us, we have the opportunity to witness to and befriend a wide range of ethnic groups, especially those devoted to Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist practices. Simply inviting an international student from the local university into our home offers an exciting and rewarding occasion to respect another culture while sharing our own Christian way of life.
Likewise, Thomas advises us to visit the worship centers of religions other than Christianity to better understand the nature of that worship, hence opening a door for a reciprocal visit to our own church and, more important, to strengthen our conviction in the great, unique miracle of love with which Christ, "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," blesses humans and meets our needs.
Thomas' vision is multicultural without becoming ecumenical in the pejorative sense of the word. She writes:
"As you and your kids examine these religions, plus the New Age movement with its seeking for God in several different ways, your children will begin to understand the need for all people everywhere to know the one true God. This is an essential time to discuss the attributes of God, who is loving, unchanging, all knowing, and supreme, and yet who is personal and cares about us as individuals. He cares so much that he adopts us into his family. No other religion can make that claim."
Chock-full of practical recommendations for Christian missions, each chapter ends with a series of suggestions and questions: "What You Can Do Today as a Family." The book will also lend itself to study by adult Sunday school classes, since it offers a natural focal point for mission projects taken on by small groups as well as families.
Countering the reluctance of many Christians to go outside our comfort zones to experience other cultures or to share our faith with people who may not be open to it, Thomas reveals what we have to gain – and enjoy – by obeying Christ's commission. Stepping out, she affirms, enables us to clarify our own faith through exposure to those of other faiths and to gain friends and experiences that enrich us enormously along the way. The idea is that we win others to Christ by living our lives as a Christlike example: acceptance of, appreciation for, and love for all. She leads us with a clarity, simplicity, and humanity born of God's grace. Like her, we, too, can delight to "go and make disciples of all nations."
Pamela Robinson is a freelance writer living in Mt. Vernon, Ind.