Review: Legend of the Wapa
A story worth telling
In Legend of the Wapa, Ernie Bowman has successfully and simultaneously accomplished several admirable and beneficial feats for his readers.
First, he has told a good story. And who doesn’t like that? In this short novel there is tension, love, awkwardness, danger, suspense, and joy. The author skillfully persuades the reader to quickly care for the Kilo people (an unreached people group living on the border of Venezuela and Brazil), root for the missionary couple, and celebrate the growing relationship between the two. This is a story to be told around a campfire, at the dinner table, or over coffee with friends.
Second, he has given realistic insights into life as a Christian missionary. For those who have never served in long-term missionary work—that is, most of us—there is much we could never know. Bowman invites us to understand a little more than we would otherwise. His descriptions of spear fishing, meal preparing, language learning, supply waiting, and relationship building are all skillfully interwoven into the overarching tale without being a distraction to the narrative.
Third, he has provided a certain humanization for the Christian missionary. There are multiple times throughout the story that the main character (also the narrator), through his introspective style of communicating, gives readers insight into the normality of his character. He struggles with worry, is annoyed by inconveniences, is heartbroken over personal matters, and is in love with his wife. At one point in the book the narrator wonders to himself that if his supporters back home knew how “real” he really was, perhaps they would pray for him and his wife more often.
May that be true for all who read this book; may we understand that missionaries are not a “super-class” of Christian and, just as the Apostle Paul needed prayer from the saints (Eph. 6:19–20), so may we be reminded to regularly lift the missionaries with whom we are familiar.
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