Fields of Gold: Planting a Church among Central Asian Muslims, by James Wright. Create Space, 2013, 150 pages.
Fields of Gold tells the story of the remarkable beginnings of the Kazakh church in southern Kazakhstan. James Wright, along with his family and teammates, went to rural Kazakhstan in the early 1990s. Working to introduce the good news of the Messiah Jesus in the Central Asian context, his international church-planting team learned many valuable lessons about living as witnesses among an unreached people. A companion study guide draws upon their story to explore issues of working across cultures and offers insights for personal growth. The book provides many cultural and missiological insights, all seen through the lens of the author’s personal pilgrimage.
The real strength of this book is the way it pulls back the curtain on the struggles faced by frontline workers not only in rural 1990s Central Asia, but also in other times and places. Fields of Gold covers difficult ground frequently experienced by frontline missionaries but glossed over in missionary biographies: the mixed excitement and disappointment of raising support, painful effects of cultural immersion on one’s idealism, team tensions and breakup, conflicts and false accusations from other believers, and the bouts of depression and burnout that can bring down cross-cultural workers who may not know how to slow down or take a break. The author provides helpful reflections on ways to navigate these challenges, grow though them, and avoid missionary attrition. His experiences and what he learned from them offer insights to those who care for and support cross-cultural workers as well as those who go.
“It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:7,” writes Dr. Rick Love in an endorsement: “‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.'”
I’d recommend this book to anyone involved in Central Asian church planting but would hope it finds a wider audience as well.