Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright

The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 3, 2018 by Convergent Books

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Basically, I loved it.

I first stumbled across Jamie Wright's blog in March of 2011. I immediately loved her writing, her stories, and her perspective.

If you are offended by "profanity", this might not be the book for you. (However, as one of the reviewers on Amazon said "if you are a Christian and have watched a rated R movie recently, you can handle this book. And you should." - which made me laugh, but it's also a valid point!)

Jamie's memoir is hilarious, but also honest. I think she is asking good questions and pointing out things that need to be brought into the light regarding short-term missions and the Missionary Machine in general.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Madeleine Lambert, and I didn't want to stop listening. It's just under 5 hours and I could have kept listening for 5 more. I hope Jamie writes more books in the future. (By the way, if you tend to buy books on Kindle, and you buy this one on Kindle, you can add on the audiobook for $7.47, which is what I did.)

One of the many parts that resonated with me was when Jamie was talking about reading through some awful book with the church ladies and it was saying ridiculously wrong stuff about how medication and professional therapy are not the answer for clinical depression, and how a man should have strict authority over his wife, and they got to a part about the importance of "quiet time" and how "you can sleep when you're dead". So the leader was admonishing these young sleep-deprived mothers to forgo even more sleep so they could have their precious "quiet time" in the morning. And Jamie finally lost it on them. (I was cheering for Jamie. :-D) Here is part of what she wrote in response to the legalistic idea of a mandatory "quiet time":

“I don’t think that’s how it works. I really don’t. I think God is with us. Like, day in and day out, in the chaos and the noise and the silliness of life, He is there. The God of your precious, untouchable ‘quiet time’ is a present witness to our nonstop lives, never absent for the clamor of our kids’ laughter, their squeals, their skinned knees, their fussing and whining and raging fits in the Target parking lot. God is not withholding Himself from us, waiting for us to come to Him in the wee hours of the morning as a measure of our devotion!" (82)

Other favorite quotes:

"Lies hide us, secrets isolate us, partial truths confine us, but through the most blatant and bare honesty we are fully known, genuinely connected, and utterly freed." (xv)

"Our lives unfold in ways that are both plain and mysterious, because God’s equipping is practical, but His redemption is magical." (187)

"I am certain of only two things. The first is that when Jesus told me to love my neighbor, I’m pretty sure he meant, like, my actual neighbor—the person or people nearest to me at any given moment. At home. At work. On the subway. In the supermarket. On a street corner. Y’know, neighbors. And the second thing is this: The only way to know how to truly love your neighbor is to truly know your neighbor." (207)

"Many of us have been hurt by the church, but to be redeemed by God is to understand that, though you have been wounded, you don’t have to keep bleeding. You are redeemed. Now you can see. Now you can stand. To trust God is to stretch out your hand." (211)

"To bring light and hope, you and I must show up for life in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, and in our schools not as “missionaries” and self-proclaimed blessings but as imperfect parents, genuine friends, competent professionals, and messy people. We must show up as safe havens, not as mini saviors. We must bravely show up in our everyday lives to do our best with what we have, listening carefully, serving sensibly, and loving fully as active participants in the story of who God is and what God does." (211)

Official blurb:

"Wildly popular blogger "Jamie the Very Worst Missionary" delivers a searing, offbeat, often hilarious memoir of spiritual disintegration and re-formation.

As a quirky Jewish kid and promiscuous punk@$$ teen, Jamie Wright never imagines becoming a Christian, let alone a Christian missionary. She is barely an adult when the trials of motherhood and marriage put her on an unexpected collision course with Jesus. After finding her faith at a suburban megachurch, Jamie trades in the easy life on the cul-de-sac for the green fields of Costa Rica. There, along with her family, she earnestly hopes to serve God and change lives. But faced with a yawning culture gap and persistent shortcomings in herself and her fellow workers, she soon loses confidence in the missionary enterprise and falls into a funk of cynicism and despair.

Nearly paralyzed by depression, yet still wanting to make a difference, she decides to tell the whole, disenchanted truth: Missionaries suck and our work makes no sense at all! From her sofa in Central America, she launches a renegade blog, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, and against all odds wins a large and passionate following. Which leads her to see that maybe a "bad" missionary--awkward, doubtful, and vocal—is exactly what the world and the throngs of American do-gooders need."

The Very Worst Missionary Purchase Links: PaperbackKindle Edition, Audible Audiobook

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