Tim Keesee. Dispatches from the Front: On Gospel Transformation, Suffering, and Witness. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.
(You may recall Tim Keesee from his telling the stories in the Dispatches from the Front DVDs by Frontline Missions.)
Here’s Justin Taylor’s foreword (pp. 11–13):
The apostle Paul, responding to criticism that he was putting himself forward and commending himself, acknowledged that he and his gospel coworkers—men and women on the frontlines of the advance of the kingdom—actually do “commend” themselves “in every way” (2 Cor. 6:4).
But how? What could he cite to demonstrate their missional integrity? What items make it on to their ministry résumé?
Explaining that they experienced the following with “great endurance,” Paul paints a picture of what they have endured:
- sleepless nights
- hunger (2 Cor. 6:4–5)
Welcome to life on the frontlines.
But this isn’t a Pauline pity party. He goes on to explain that in the upside-down, world-confounding kingdom, things are not as they seem. From a limited, worldly perspective, these workers on the frontlines look like losers. But in reality, they are men and women of whom the world is not worthy. Paul makes the contrast between how they are perceived and what they really are. They are treated:
- as impostors—and yet are true;
- as unknown—and yet well known;
- as dying—and behold, we live;
- as punished—and yet not killed;
- as sorrowful—yet always rejoicing;
- as poor—yet making many rich;
- as having nothing—yet possessing everything. (2 Cor. 6:8–10)
In particular, it’s the phrase “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” that comes to mind when I think of Tim Keesee and his ministry of visiting gospel workers on the frontlines.
There’s nothing fancy about the man. He’s not famous. In fact, unless you’ve watched the Dispatches from the Front DVD series, you’ve probably never heard of him—and even if you have, you probably didn’t catch his name. He’s quiet and unassuming. He’s humble and without guile. He’s a faithful and ordinary man who serves an extraordinary God.
There’s a certain world-weariness etched onto his face as he has spent years crisscrossing the globe, visiting and supporting and documenting the church around the world. But if you look closer, there is unmistakable joy. You can see it in the warmth of his smile and the twinkle of his eye and the welcome of his embrace as he greets a new brother and a new sister on the other side of the world and worships with yet another outpost of the global family of God. If the new heavens and the new earth will be filled with the redeemed from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9), then Tim Keesee has gotten a foretaste of the world to come.
In this book you will have a front-row seat to the most important work in history, as the great news of a bloody sacrifice turned risen King transforms lives around the world. You’ll follow along with Tim’s journeys over the past several years as he travels from the former Soviet Republics to the Balkans, from China to Southeast Asia, from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, from the Horn of Africa to Egypt, from Afghanistan to Iraq. You’ll see the joy and the sorrow, the pleasure and the pain, as he sees the glory of the gospel revealed afresh and yet still mourns the danger and bondage of soul-destroying sin.
No one will be reached with the gospel unless we go to them. Because no one will “hear without someone preaching” (Rom. 10:14), we must “go therefore and make disciples of all nations [Greek, ethnē, or people groups]” (Matt. 28:19). In order to do this, some of us are called to “send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God” (3 John 1:6). But whether you are a go-er or a send-er, none of us can see it all. We can only get a small glimpse of the kingdom based on where God has called us to serve. That is why I am excited for you to read this book. You can read it straight through or skip around according to your interests. But as you do, you will see the curtain pulled back on the glorious and unstoppable advance of the gospel. This is a dangerous book to read, for you may never be the same.
Come and see.
And here are two endorsements:
- “Beware of Dispatches from the Front if you don’t like being moved and inspired and shaken out of the ruts of your life. These are kingdom stories that build faith in the present providence of God over his mission and stir up action for the sake of lost and hurting people near and far. I would love to see thousands of people mobilized as senders and goers for the sake of the glory of Christ and the relief of suffering on the frontiers, especially eternal suffering.”
—John Piper, Founder, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary
- “Dispatches from the Front is a thoughtful, moving, understated, and ultimately convicting narrative depicting the work of the gospel in some of the most challenging corners of the world. It tells of brothers and sisters in Christ who in God’s grace display faithfulness and transcendent joy, unflagging zeal to share the gospel, and an unfettered allegiance to King Jesus. To read of the kingdom advance in the teeth of challenges is to learn humility and rekindle contrition, faith, and intercessory prayer.”
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
1. Justin Taylor interviews Tim Keesee re this book:
- 00:13 – What was the impetus for the book?
- 01:25 – How did you first get involved in world missions?
- 03:15 – What are one or two experiences that have shaped you as a Christian?
- 05:31 – What are some of the myths related to missions that you’ve encountered?
- 08:04 – What are you asking the Lord to do through this book?
- 09:22 – An excerpt from the Dispatches from the Front DVD series
2. A 15-minute video preview of the book’s introduction: