3 out of 4 stars
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Born in a poor family during the Great Depression in 1938, just before WWII, Fred Beck was the eldest among five siblings. He began working at the age of thirteen, and after five years, he met Linda, the daughter of a pastor. They were married in 1959. Prior to this event, he had felt called to serve God and was preaching occasionally. He was also enrolled for ministerial studies. He took up part-time jobs, and the couple had their first child in 1960. Fred became pastor of the Energy Baptist Church in Texas. Their second baby was born in 1961. A year later, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Scripture and further enrolled in Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Linda gave birth to their third child in 1962. The pastor had to work full-time in a prison to make a living. Linda also joined the seminary.
In 1968, Fred was giving a sermon on the theme “Missions: God’s Heartbeat” when a strange thing happened, and “the pastor was converted during his own sermon!” I was really moved when I read how he said “yes” to be an international missionary. It was amazing to know that his wife had also felt called to the missions when she was a young girl. The couple got their appointment in Indonesia and served as Baptist missionaries for thirty-three years in several countries in S. Asia. Now that they are retired and back to their homeland, Fred has decided to publish this memoir of his life’s journey, to share the experience of God’s goodness and unmerited grace that has made him “a new creation” in Christ. When God Works Incognito: Autobiographical Vignettes is an inspiring story of this Christian Baptist couple.
God calls people in marvelous ways. I am impressed with this real-life story of a Christian family. I think Fred’s struggles during childhood and the experience of being “born again spiritually” empowered and sustained him during his missionary journeys. He really gave himself totally to God, and his personal relationship with the Lord helped him to go through a “metamorphosis” to be more like Jesus Christ in his encounter with people. I enjoyed reading the details of their life in Indonesia that was full of challenges and opportunities.
What I most liked in this book is their family spirit. I also liked the author’s description of Satan, not only as the “accuser” but also as the great “excuser.” He enables people to excuse themselves for their sins and resist conversion while those who were sinned against continue to have a difficult time. There’s nothing that I disliked about the memoir. The couple had trust in Jesus and continued to walk in faith during the dark moments. I think they are exemplars!
It is not possible to give details of their missionary life in this review, and I would like readers to be inspired by the author’s own words. After reflecting on the big picture as well as the details, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I felt sad I could not rate it 4 stars because of grammatical errors. Professional editing will enhance the quality of the text. I am happy to recommend it to people of all age groups. Christians will find it inspiring. Pastors, social workers, teachers, doctors, and missionaries will enjoy it. The theological contents are suitable for Christians of all churches and denominations.
When God Works Incognito
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