Within the pages of For the Joy Set Before Us, Erica Fye provides not only the promised “insights into missionary life,” but chapters full of practicable counsel for the ministry-minded Christian. Although focused on Ms. Fye’s experience in foreign missionary work (topics include re-entry shock, adjusting to life in a new culture, etc.), Scriptural truth saturates her writing and gives it broader application.
Beginning with her own testimony and call to missions, Ms. Fye uses her personal story to illustrate biblical principles of ministry. Her willingness to share private struggles and experiences for God’s glory make Ms. Fye’s writing—though unassuming—powerful. Hardly a page is without a Bible reference, or relevant verse. The chapters address a number of difficulties the missionary faces (e.g. loneliness and burnout), and offer both encouragement and direction. The overarching theme, however, is the faithfulness of God to the believer.
For the Joy Set Before Us is not a collection of heartwarming stories from the “wilds” of Uganda. Its purpose is not to entertain, but rather to equip. It is a challenge to seek God and answer His call wherever you are.
On a personal note, I found the chapter “Spiritual Warfare” to be some of the most helpful content. Ms. Fye recognizes that we enter into a raging battle when we choose Christ. Straightforward, she counsels, “We must engage in battle through His power only. We cannot fight spiritual battles by physical means (see Acts 19:14-16).” Her exposition on Ephesians 6 presents each piece of the armor of God in the light of the whole of Scripture, offering useful thoughts on how to practically equip ourselves, as Paul exhorts.
I also appreciate Ms. Fye’s earnestness to call Christians out of complacency and into the work God has for them. One of the many gleanings I have been reflecting on is as follows:
If Satan can, he will keep all men in bondage and darkness. If he loses a soul, he will stop at nothing to make us useless Christians. He will tempt us to sin and condemn us when we give in to the temptation. He will try to keep us distracted with petty things while eternal things are at stake.”
My prayer is that I will not be or become a useless Christian, but “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and…run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)