Dragon Ride: True Stories of Adventure, Miracles, and Evangelism from China by Grace Jacob. Self-published, 2017.
Grace Jacob’s account of her family’s 29 years in China made me jealous! She was so good at speaking Mandarin that at times she mispronounced English. She had a boldness about opening spiritual conversations even in a closed country that put me, who works in an open country, to shame. Consequently, God let her see much fruit from her ministry as Buddhists, Communists, and atheists came to Christ through her witness. No wonder Dr. Norman Geisler called Dragon Ride “the most exciting modern mission book” he has ever read.
Of course, Jacob’s success was not without cost. She and her husband had to change residences frequently, either due to being suspected of Christian activity, or because of governmental regulations which they never clearly understood, whereby a place where they were permitted to live previously was now off-limits. There was also a certain amount of job insecurity, as they always had to obtain employment in order to remain in the country.
Perhaps the greatest price she paid was her health. She and her family certainly experienced miracles of healing, such as the gross, pussy eye infection her son had which threatened to spread into his brain, and the time Jacob herself fell into a lake of polluted water which manifested not only in immediate skin infections, but again four years later in urinary tract infections and other illnesses. Both of these were healed by the power of God through prayer and the laying-on of hands and were a powerful testimony to unbelieving friends of God’s existence.
However, God did not always choose to heal. Early in her cross-cultural career, Jacob was diagnosed with adult strabismus, which affects focus and renders the victim unable to read. Undoubtedly, a less determined individual would have “packed it in” at this point and headed home. Amazingly, God used this to help her reach illiterate women. (Although she can read again, to this day she follows a vision therapy regimen to combat this.)
And in the end, the reason this dedicated couple left after 29 years was that the air pollution broke Jacob’s health. Several of the moves they made to other cities were to seek cleaner air, but in the end bronchitis and chronic sinus infections meant she could hardly work. So I guess I’m not so jealous of Jacob after all, as I can relate to the heartbreak she felt about leaving.
If I had to criticize this book, I would suggest the author make her chapter lengths a bit more consistent. Some were only a page or two, others quite a bit longer. I would suggest the author seek to combine some of the briefer accounts for a more consistent chapter length.
Also, a few of the incidents in the book were interesting or exciting, but she didn’t use them to demonstrate the grace of God. She got into some awkward situations which, if read apart from the rest of the book, simply showed how they were resolved with some fast talk or fancy footwork without mentioning God’s intervention. However, neither of these are a reason to reject the book, which my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed.
I join with Dr. John Townsend, co-author of Boundaries, who wrote the foreword for Dragon Ride, in suggesting you read this book to gain a realistic perspective on the state of missions in China, illumination on the grace of God, and a challenge to personal evangelism.
Image credit: Jacques Savoye from Pixabay
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