There is no shortage today of books on missions, and I have certainly read my share. Aside from individual missionary biographies, there are three books that I have read in recent years which stand out in my mind as some of the most challenging books I have ever read. I would like to review each of these three books in subsequent posts. I will begin with "Nothing To Win But The World".
"Nothing To Win But The World" was written by Clay Cooper in 1965. Mr. Cooper was the founder of a non-profit fundraising group for missions called Vision, Inc. This book has a very distinctive flavor because of the era in which it was written. Two major issues from the 1960's are heavily referenced throughout the book: the Space Race and the Cold War. Mr. Cooper correctly concluded that Communism was not only an enemy to the political systems of the free world, but that it was also an enemy to Christianity. Consequently, although the topic of this book is the spreading of the Gospel, he made multiple references to the evils of Communism.
While the book is not overly political in nature, there are definitely some fascinating political overtones, particularly in the foreword and the preface. The foreword was a very strong call for all Christians to rededicate themselves to the spreading of the Gospel, and it was written by then-governor of the State of Oregon, Mark Hatfield!
Even more interesting is the preface of the book which is an excerpt from the United States Congressional Record of the 86th Congress. On February 11th, 1959, Walt Horan, apparently a state representative, read an article by Clay Cooper in his speech before the House of Representatives. The title of the article by Clay Cooper was "Missions or Missiles - This World or the Moon". In his article, Mr. Cooper suggested that perhaps the Communists were getting the U.S. sidetracked with a race for the moon while the Communists ultimate goal was to win the world. Here are a few excerpts from his article (and remember - this was read on the floor of the United States House of Representatives a mere 50 years ago).
"Bear in mind it is not something we shoot from earth into the heavens that is going to save the world. Rather it is that Someone who came down from heaven to earth one starlit night in the long ago."
"As a symbol of hope, the fiery launching pad pales in comparison with Bethlehem's manger."
"It is cause for amazement to many thinking people that a nominally Christian society should frantically compete with avowed atheists in the moon-race. Let the Reds be first to reach unknown worlds. Let the known world with its known peoples and their known problems be our first concern. Why bankrupt the nation so as to plant the Stars and Stripes on the pock-marked Sea of Tranquility? The Blood-Stained Banner has yet to be lifted over more than half of terra firma!"
"Shall we major in missiles and minor in missions? Shall we invest trillions for one and trifles for the other? Shall we put a man on the moon or a missionary in Martinique? Shall we waken, too late, and realize that while we were trying to gain the moon we lost the earth?"
And that's just the preface! Now you see why he entitled the book, "Nothing To Win But The World".
I love the author's idea for the main text of the book. There are 27 chapters in the book. Does that number ring a bell? It is the number of books in the New Testament. Every chapter of this book is a truth about world-wide evangelization based upon a verse from a different book in the New Testament.
Chapter 1 is drawn from Matthew 25:25 ("And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth...") and makes the case that fear hinders the spreading of the Gospel more than any other single thing.
Chapter 2 is based upon Mark 6:7 ("And he called unto him the twelve and began to send them forth..."). This chapter presents a very strong argument that too many men have let women lead the way in the cause of missions, when it is actually men whom God has always used to advance the Gospel.
In Chapter 3 he compares the sending forth of the disciples to the launching of a rocket, taking his text from Luke 24:49 ("...but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.")
Chapter after chapter he follows this same pattern of pulling out one verse or passage from each subsequent book of the New Testament and using that verse to challenge the reader to do more for the cause of Christ. He covers every major topic related to missions including racial prejudice, financing missions, the importance of prayer, only one way to Heaven, what a world without Christ would be like, the chain-reaction of missions, missions logistics, love, and many other topics.
While the illustrations used in this book are largely outdated, the truths contained therein certainly are not. Any Christian would benefit greatly from reading this book. Unfortunately it is out of print, but there are some used copies available on various websites. Get it. Read it. It will light a fire in your soul.