18/07/2008

My Story (by Selwyn Hughes)

I've known of Selwyn Hughes for many years, as the founder and chief writer of the Christian devotional Bible-reading note series, 'Every Day with Jesus'. I found the notes inspiring and encouraging for three or four years, although I stopped getting them in about 2005. It was apparently in 2006 that Selwyn Hughes, then 77, died.

Occasionally something about Selwyn's personal life and circumstances would creep into his notes, and I found myself intrigued to know more about the man himself. I discovered that he had written an autobiography, but it was rather expensive; in the last couple of years, it has been out of print. But finally I decided to buy a second-hand edition from Abebooks, and read it over a period of about three weeks.

I found the early chapters interesting, as the author describes his childhood in a Welsh mining village, and his growing interest in God. I was surprised to learn that in his young adult life he went to Bible College and then became a well-known preacher and speaker, who travelled all over the world encouraging, teaching, and praying for revival. Certainly, a few of my question were answered as a I read the book and learned more about Selwyn Hughes, and the way his ministry grew and flourished beyond what anyone could have imagined, long before he started writing 'Every Day with Jesus'.

However, I was a bit disappointed to find that there was very little about his family as an adult. Certainly there are some significant mentions of his wife Enid, and his two sons, and other family members - but mostly in the context of marriage, illness or dying. Perhaps he wanted to protect their privacy.

The majority of the book is about Selwyn's ministry, and is full of names, places and facts. These are all important, of course, but I would have expected this kind of detail in a biography written by someone else about his life. Some of this was necessary, of course, in understanding how he grew as a person. But unfortunately, the catalogue of names and facts are of little interest to the general public.

Although there are a few rather endearing admissions of mistakes made, including extreme arrogance as a young man, there is very little about the author's personal growth beyond his teenage years. There isn't even very much about his struggles with cancer and bereavement - they are mentioned almost in passing, but with almost no description of his feelings, or what made him human as well as a great pioneer in the Christian world.

Overall, I thought the book worth reading - I did persevere to the end, although I admit to skimming a few passages here and there that described yet another evangelistic mission without any human interest stories. On the whole the book is well-written, as I expected, and the flow is good: mostly chronological, but not rigidly so. I just thought it a pity that it was basically unexciting reading, about what was evidently a very fulfilling and exciting life.

(Note that this book has been revised and expanded since I read it; Amazon links are to the newer version, so perhaps some of my comments no longer apply)

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 18th July 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This book gripped me from beginning to end.
I read it in a day...
I never knew this man until I read his book.
Sometimes the testimony of the preacher's life story is worth more than the grandest sermon he ever preached; this is one such instance.