Book Review: 'Mountains and Molehills'

Available on the bookshelf at the barn.

This is an autobiographical account of a pair of missionaries (Bill and Mollie Tett) who take the gospel to un-reached parts of Africa in the 1920s-1960s.

They were part of the SUM (Sudan United Mission). This was set up in 1904 with the aim of planting a chain of gospel churches across the African continent, running from Nigeria to Cameroon to Chad to Sudan. Bill and Mollie started their work in Sudan and moved Westwards, taking the gospel to the unreached mountainous tribes of central Africa. They finished in Jos, Nigeria.

Missionary autobiography is a great genre. It combines stories of general adventure (Mollie is shipwrecked by a German U-boat, Bill survives a giant petrol explosion) with exploration (trekking through uncharted mountains in Nigeria) with bizarre customs (the tribe that keeps a living cow underground because of its mystical fetish belief). And through all of it, two people who's lives are shaped by the urgent need to tell people the good news about Jesus. It felt a little bit like an evening with Jonathan Milton-Thompson or Jungle Jane!

But despite all the adventure, Bill and Mollie come across as very normal people. They're not mega-evangelists, or super adventurous types. They're fairly ordinary Christians who experience all the difficulties and problems that Christians face.

That's what the title is about: 'mountains and molehills'. Spreading the gospel is a gargantuan task. Much like climbing a mountain. And then there are the other mountain-sized issues to cope with: bereavements and personal tragedies.

But as well as the mountains, there are the molehills. The day to day problems and obstacles. Health problems. Lack of resources. Lack of money. Lack of ability. Worries. Saying goodbye to friends. Keeping going as a family. Managing everything when there are so many demands on your time.

You can't climb the mountains if you get tripped up by the molehills. Navigating the molehills is essential to climbing the mountains. That seemed to be the emphasis of the book. And the great encouragement is that God faithfully enables us to do just that. That's a great truth to be reminded of.

Another big encouragement comes from the vantage of reading this book in 2014. The evangelical church in Nigeria is now enormous (40 million ish people!) God has used the efforts of Bill and Mollie Tett, SUM, and others in an incredible way.

Well worth a read.