Noll, Mark A. and Carolyn Nystrom. Clouds of Witnesses: Christian Voices from Africa and Asia. Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2011. 288 pp. $25.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for 35% off.
Chances are if you are reading this, you live in what is considered the Western world. Your view of Christianity is distinctly Western and you are more likely to think that your understanding of Christianity is most important to the whole of Christianity. Thanks to Mark A. Noll, Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame and Carolyn Nystrom, a freelance writer from the Chicago-area, we are now confronted with a global understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit within the bride of Christ.
Divided into six regions of the world, the reader is introduced to seventeen saints of the Christian faith from the past 150 years or so who have fought the fight of faith and paid the price in this world but gained a rich crown in the life to come. You will visit Southern Africa, West Africa, East Africa, India, Korea, and China.
Along the way, you will be confronted with the truth that the freedom of religious worship is not as pervasive as we think here in the Western world.
You cannot read this work and not be moved to tears. To see what these men and women withstood for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ will lead you to ask how strong is your faith. Noll and Nystrom have done their homework in retelling these various histories. For that, we are indebted to them. The list of sources at the end of each chapter keep the authors accountable and provide a launching point for which to do further study and investigation into the lives of these men and women.
Sadly, the stories may be too controversial for some but they will most assuredly quicken the heart, soul and mind for a deeper faith. While reading this historical overview, you will begin to gain a greater appreciation for the cost of following Christ. In the end, the gauntlet is laid down and the challenge is given — Are you living your life for Christ or are you infatuated with the cares of the world?
Thanks to ministries like the Voice of the Martyrs much has been done to bring about awareness of persecution in the church. Sadly, our Western mind wants to fight (rightly) for the rights of those being persecuted. Clouds of Witnesses offers a different perspective and shows the joy one has in dying, peacefully, as a martyr for the gospel. To all who believe on the name of Christ, read this book and be blessed. Read this book and be challenged.