I heard Ajith Fernando speak at Cape Town 2010 – the Third Lausanne Congress on the theme of suffering and was captivated by his blend of biblical exposition and life application. Following that I picked up The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry.
Ajith Fernando knows about suffering. He has seen horrendous suffering during his ministry as national director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka. Since the 1980s that island nation has been torn and ravished by civil war and political corruption. Over 60,000 Sri Lankans have died in sectarian violence, and another 20,000, mostly rebel Tamils, “disappeared” after their arrest. Just when a tentative peace between warring factions was taking shape, the Indian Ocean Tsunami stuck, leaving more than 31,100 dead, 4,100 missing, and 519,000 homeless.
Despite the suffering all around him, Ajith Fernando has found a transcending joy, a joy that transforms pain and suffering into a closer walk with Jesus Christ. This book is greatly needed, especially in the UK, where much of Christianity has become shallow, self-centered, and materialistic. Fernando contends that Christians are not only not exempt from suffering and pain, but they are called to suffer for the Lord’s sake and for the good of others. Yet through that sanctified suffering – even because of it – the Christian finds true, lasting joy.
Though specifically written for those in the ministry, the book’s truth, which draws heavily upon Scripture, applies to every Christian. The book’s thirty short but rich chapters take us to a higher plateau in our Christian life, and to greater service for the Master.