13 Oct The Joy of Reading
How many of us believe that our childhood struggles are doomed to limit our current potential? EP author Faith Cook is a fantastic example of someone who pushed past those limitations to reach her full potential in later years. Enjoy her inspiring testimony:
As a child of missionary parents who served in the far-off wilds of inland China, I had little opportunity for any early reading. Here beds were mere mud platforms with fires underneath and toilets outdoor pits with planks across. Books were a rare commodity. I was sent to a boarding school at the age of six, a school that then had to be evacuated to India when the Japanese invaded China. So again books were in short supply and treated like gold dust. Not until the age of ten when my parents returned to England for a year, did I discover the joy of reading.
Even then my reading opportunities were limited when I was sent to another boarding school as my parents returned to the Far East. But with my marriage to Paul when I was twenty-three, the situation changed. Now I was introduced to his collection of a wealth of titles and could read to my heart’s content. On our holidays many happy hours were spent searching out second-hand book shops where volume after volume was crammed on crazy shelving reaching to the ceiling. I grew to love the smell of old books! Every room in our small Manse housed our growing library – all apart from the kitchen and bathroom!
And biography was a firm favourite. The lives of those who suffered and died for their faith has always moved me and has had a major effect on my Christian life. As I had read little before my marriage I had only the haziest idea of church history. Never have I forgotten how shocked Paul was to discover that I, his fiancée, did not even recognise John Wesley when we came across the waxwork of him as we walked around Madame Tussauds.
But now the situation changed. Even with the arrival of our family I still found ways to continue reading. Our family outings to nearby Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, home of young Lady Jane Grey, spoke vividly of her earnest faith, her short and noble life and her tragic death at the hands of the public executioner. Her story formed an early full biography that I attempted and one that led on to others and to the biographical collections I later wrote such as Stars in God’s Sky and Out of the Shadows.
Reading Christian biography is not merely a dry intellectual exercise. It provides a unique part in giving us an overview of God’s faithful dealings with his people in the past. And as he is the unchanging God, he still leads, rebukes and encourages his people in similar ways today. As readers, we learn what nurtured and sustained these Christians from day to day, what mistakes they made, how God often brought good even out of their folly and failure. We are humbled by the great sufferings some endured for the gospel’s sake and see how such afflictions led to greater endurance and godliness. As we learn how they pleaded in prayer for God’s mercies and received answers from heaven to their petitions, we are encouraged to believe that the same God will hear our prayers; by reading of the way many found grace to die triumphantly, trusting in Christ to take them through death and into his glory, we can be delivered from the nagging fear of death. And as if this were not enough, such accounts also add valuable significance and encouragement to the part that we too can play in our own generation in God’s overarching purposes.
Mrs. Cook’s voracious reading translated into equally voracious writing, which we are extremely privileged to publish. We invite you to peruse her catalog here or look closer at one of these featured titles:
Nine short, inspiring biographies of lesser-known Christians who made a difference. Perhaps best known is Patricia St John (the final chapter) to whom Mrs. Cook pays a personal and moving tribute to someone who showed such kindness.
In her typically engaging and enthralling style, Faith Cook shows us how God graciously works in individuals’ lives. Here are ‘short biographies of extraordinary ordinary Christians’. Among others here we find the encouraging and challenging short stories of John Foxe and Fanny Guinness.