Read This If…
- you enjoy missions autobiographies
- you’ve read Bruce Olson’s preceding memoir, Bruchko
- you’re interested in the relationship between missions and cultural development
“What happened to the 19-year-old boy who evangelized a murderous tribe of South American Indians in the 1960s? In this sequel to his best-selling Bruchko, Olson details how his 40-year mission to the Motilone has transformed the lives of the tribespeople…and his own. An amazing account that will inspire you to follow God’s lead!” – Charisma House
Review by @alainamarie87
Bruce Olson’s story is captured first in his bestseller titled Bruchko (here is our review of the first book), and is expanded in this second volume, Bruchko and the Motilone Miracle. After immersing myself in the stories of his first volume, I was curious to know whether the second volume would grip my attention with the same intensity.
After a brief prologue with some cliffhanger-worthy foreshadowing, Olson begins his sequel by providing readers with a refresher course on his journey with the Motilones thus far. The rest of the book is devoted to unfolding the unique struggles and challenges presented by the influences of modernity and 21st century realities upon the Motilone community. Bruce Olson’s investment in this people group is virtually inestimable. He gave the Motilones his heart, and also his time; forty years of this man’s life were spent entirely immersed with the tribe. In many ways, Bruce Olson’s story could better be described as a life memoir than as a missions biography.
Reading this volume gave me respect for the unique missions philosophy advanced by Olson. His approach to missions fostered both physical sustainability and deep reverence for cultural preservation. A large portion of the sequel describes the educational, medical, legal, and economical advances introduced by Olson. The integration of agricultural cooperatives maintained by the Motilone people functioned as both a catalyst for healthy relationships outside the tribe and for a platform to share the gospel of Jesus. Bruce’s presentation of the gospel was always governed by an eagerness to honor their cultural norms. Bruce did not introduce the Motilones to an American Jesus; instead, he relayed the message of Christ to them with respect to their traditions and symbols.
Reading this volume also gave me a respect for the difficult realities facing missionaries in difficult political climates. The opposition, oppression, and persecution of guerilla groups and influenced by the rise of the drug industry are real – and tremendously difficult – pressures faced by Olson and myriad other missionaries at present. The long duration of Olson’s ministry in South America shows the arduous and often painful nature of full time ministry, and it is an important thing for readers to understand.
While the stories and experiences in Olson’s sequel proved no less riveting than those found in his first volume, the organization of this book was a little more difficult to follow. There were elements that jumped back and forth over the chronology of Olson’s extended time with the Motilones, and while understandable, this was a bit confusing from a reader’s perspective.
All in all, I walked away from this read more persuaded of God’s sovereignty, His ability to work powerfully (and supernaturally) on behalf of his servants, and the evident value of devoting one’s life to the reconciliation of God’s people unto Himself. There is no greater calling.