Book Review: Soaring Higher

Soaring Higher:  One Man’s True Story Of Following God In An Adventurous And Rewarding Lifetime Of Field Evangelism, by Dr. Philip C. Eyster

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

This book generally lives up to its name.  The author’s account of his experiences shows them to be adventurous and rewarding, and they are full of solo gloria dei, and also full of self-effacing personal references.  To be sure, I read a lot more about missionaries than most people probably do [1], but having lived an adventurous life myself–if perhaps a bit less rewarding than the author’s life so far–and having served in the mission field as well, there is a lot I was able to recognize here.  Like most readers of this book, I went into the book not having any idea who the author was, as he is not famous at least in the circles I inhabit, but this book ended up being a very worthwhile and enjoyable one despite my initial unfamiliarity with the author and his life.  As is often the case, he is more than willing to talk about himself and his background and to demonstrate an awareness of what is going around him and a readiness to show gratitude for God’s protection of him during his experiences.

In between 150 and 200 pages, the author discusses his life in a somewhat thematic fashion, rather than a strictly chronological one.  The author begins rather ironically by commenting on the glamorous life of being a foreign missionary (1), and spends some time commenting on the great commission (2) as well as God giving the increase to one’s efforts at ministering to others (3).  The author talks about what it means to follow God for him (4), what God is doing in the world (5), and the open doors that he found in going about his ministry (6).  A great deal of the book is spent in showing anecdotes about his travels, including some blood-stained shoes from a greatly injured man (7), the difficulties of getting to where you are preaching (8), and the dangers of third world miscommunication for keeping God’s dietary laws (9).  “Do you like dogs,” indeed.  There is a discussion of preaching against idolatry (10), the hunger for the Gospel (11), some efforts at evangelism to an unhappy captive audience in NYC (12), before the book ends with some deeply personal looks at the people the author is most trying to help (13), the least of our troubled world (14), and the expectation that the reader will engage seriously in such work as well (15).

I found this to be a worthwhile book, but I think I would have preferred to have read a chronological memoir that put the stories in the context of the author’s travels.  In many ways, the author shows himself to be a thoughtful questioner of conventional wisdom.  For me, the most interesting comments made by the author are his nostaslgia about the longtime dictator of Malawi who was fond of Christian missionaries and not about commercialism and corrupt cultural influence.  Those who are most serious about the moral tenor of nations and their regimes are likely to be far more tolerant of dictatorships that have a strong socially conservative edge than those who are devoted to cultural openness and political democracy because they allow a corrupt culture to cast off restraint.  The author’s willingness to speak out in politically incorrect ways gave me a lot of respect for what he had to say about the Gospel, even if he appeared more like one of those jetsetters constantly going from one place to another to encourage local ministers than someone who had worked long and hard in any particular mission field.

[1] See, for example:

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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