Reading the intense stories of some of the Christians who labored before us has the ability to cause us to sit in awe and meditate upon the profundity of God’s calling. There are many biographies out there, some known others not so well-known. Editors Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson have placed together 12 short biographies of men who suffered excessively on behalf of the Lord.
Many will recognize a number of the names that are written about, including the Apostle Paul, John Calvin, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Newton, and even Andrew fuller. However, it is the stories that make up the final half of the book that may be less recognizable. While writing of Charles Spurgeon and J.C. Ryle, the authors also include the stories of Charles Simeon, John Chavis Janani Luwum, and Wang Ming-Dao. Each chapter averages about 13 pages, so readers should not expect in-depth details and a full life story. Instead, the editors have chosen to highlight the ways in which each of these men had suffered in ministry, how they managed such misery, and how the Lord was glorified.
Each story is filled with persecution, oppression, and affliction. Why would one want to read such a bleak and disheartening book? Because, despite the circumstances it portrays, the book is full of hope and motivation. The authors fixate on suffering in a way that demonstrates how the Lord sustains believers through immense trials and pain, even to the point of losing one’s physical life. These stories serve as reminders to Christians of the truth that is found both in the epistles of James and Peter: God uses suffering for the good of his people and the glory of himself.
At times the book skirts dangerously close to the point of glorifying the men of these biographies while minimizing the Lord’s sovereignty. Therefore, it would have been helpful if the editors had done more to emphasize the Lord’s work in the lives of His believers and the role suffering can play in His plans.
More than mere sermon illustrations, 12 Faithful Men is a book that inspires hope for believers around the world. They are inspiring tales of injustice and the Lord’s faithful sustaining of each man through the most difficult of times. In that regard, many Christians will find such a book worthy of their time.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it.