Tracy Evans is a physician assistant who has served in Christian medical missions in 64 nations over the past 30 years. Currently she serves with iReachAfrica in Mozambique (for the last twelve years). She was a runaway teen who came to Christ while serving in the army. Her faith ruined her military career (because she loved everyone so much and tried to convert them). As a missionary she’s been through wars, famines and hostage situations. She’s lived and worked in communist and Muslim nations which were closed to the gospel. Again and again she has seen God provide and protect her, guide her through and to difficult circumstances, miraculously heal and work wonders among the people she’s served.
Outrageous Courage tells Tracy’s story. The narrative is written in the first person by her friend and pastor Kris Vallotton and his son Jason Vallotton (also in ministry). The contents of this book are compiled from interviews with Tracy. The story is very much her own, but the Vallottons wrote the actual text, checking to make sure they got the ‘tone right.’
Tracy Evans is a charismatic missionary sent from a charismatic church, so there is an emphasis in this book on supernatural experience; however she doesn’t overstate this. She’s seen God heal and raise the dead, but as a medical missionary she’s also walked with people through suffering and is well acquainted with death. The miracles are not really the point for her, but the God who works miracles. Through out her story she shares how God has guided her into various circumstances and has created opportunities for her to share the story of Jesus with unbelievers. I know very little about her sending organization or what she does on the mission field from day-to-day (stories like this tend to emphasize the extraordinary) but I loved hearing a story from someone who has learned to trust God in life and ministry.
Another part of the story I appreciated was how much Tracy subsists with the support of other Christians. She talks about significant friendships throughout these pages (which include the Vallottons), who have walked with her, prayed with her and supported her throughout her various missionary endeavours She is not a lone-ranger on a solo adventure. While this book is her story there is a community of people which enable her to take a courageous stand in difficult circumstances.
The Vallottons share the story of Tracy because they want to inspire readers to take risks in following God courageously. I was challenged by parts of Tracy’s story and would commend the book to anyone who loves a good testimony or Missionary-adventure story (who doesn’t?). This is a story describes a lived experience of walking with God (rather than abstract-theological reflection).
I am often skeptical about aspects of charismatic books. It isn’t that I don’t believe God does these things, but there is so much hype, pretense and counterfeit miracles that I tend to take a wait-and-see approach. Tracy’s experience is different from my own but I believe she has seen and experienced each of the events described in these pages.
That being said, I found this book a slow read. The conversational style meant that this book sort of meanders through. I prefer a more focused presentation. I also did not like the book cover. The shadowy Zulu and the giant purple sky broken by a red and orange sunset is very much in keeping with the charismatic aesthetic. But it makes it hard for me to take this seriously (it looks like a novel). I give this book 3.5 stars.
Thank you to Chosen Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for this review.