Book Review: An Asian Harvest

An Asian Harvest:  An Autobiography, by Paul Hattaway

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

In reading this book, I was struck by how Nathanish the author seemed.  A young man grows up in a dysfunctional family, and through an unconventional series of events becomes a missionary.  He finds it awkward to deal with courtship, although he eventually marries a young woman from Idaho, and has frequent quarrels and difficulties with others.  Towards the end of the book, though, it is revealed that this somewhat overly intense gentleman is a sufferer of Asperger’s syndrome and it becomes clear why exactly I can relate to him so much [1].  Here was yet another example of a Nathanish person writing a book.  There was a great deal familiar about this book–the author and I even had many of the same haunts with a connection to missionary work in Chiang Mai, Thailand, of all places [2].  So, I was quite surprised that what we have here is a book about someone I haven ever heard of but who is a lot like me and who has traveled to many of the same places that I have with largely similar aims and a high degree of concern in sharing the truth of God with those who have not been reached by the Gospel message.

In terms of its contents, this book is 300 pages and is a somewhat unconventional autobiography.  Many of the books I read in this genre are memoirs, in that they are about the lives of people but those lives are often set in a larger context–such as dysfunctionality or brokenness of some kind.  This book was clearly an autobiography, in that while the author claimed a rather low view of himself apart from the grace of God, this was clearly a book focused on the author.  At the end of chapters there are some testimonials by people like the author’s wife and others, and the story is certainly a gripping one.  It begins close to the end in looking at a heart attack the author suffered in 2013, and then goes to the beginning of the author’s life in the context of his parents.  From there it shows the author’s struggles and his negative dealings with all kinds of authorities, from unsympathetic instructors who view the half-Maori child as a hopeless cause to lukewarm church authorities to political authorities in China and elsewhere who are hostile to Christianity.  The author is not shy to talk about his own long struggle with a slanderous pedophile and serial sexual predator who had his eye on the author’s wife before they married.

This is certainly a compelling narrative of an interesting life spent in unconventional but wholeheartedly sincere service to Christ.  On every page the author’s passion and devotion to Christ and to believers around the world is evident.  There are really two issues I have with this book.  The first of those issues is one I have already alluded to, and that is that this author has lived a life full of intense conflict that I find difficult to endorse.  One wonders how much of the conflict and difficulties with authority that the author has faced have been the result of a difference in Spirit and how much has been due to a lack of tact and Christian forebearance on the part of the author.  The author seems like someone who would be pretty ready to tangle with others and likely to assume any disagreement was one of stark black and white, and he seems like a difficult person to deal with.  Related to this is the fact that I have a great deal of concern about the way the author expresses his communication with God, something I find problematic in dealing with Pentecostal writers in general who are prone to overstating the level of communication with God that is present in their lives.  With those concerns stated, though, this is a book that was surprisingly compelling, although I would have preferred to have found out about the author from a third party somewhat removed from the intense drama of the author’s life.  There is no doubt many people would feel the same way about me, though.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/10/audiobook-review-the-big-short/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/07/youre-my-kind/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/04/book-review-exploring-depression-and-beating-the-blues/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/09/28/so-youre-a-missionary-then/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/09/book-review-i-just-saw-jesus/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/09/20/book-review-no-reserves-no-retreats-no-regrets/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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