The Missionary Letters of Vincent Donovan 1957–1973
Vincent Donovan is best known as the author of the influential bestseller, Christianity Rediscovered (1978). This new book contains the monthly letters he wrote home from Tanzania between 1957 and 1973. These letters give us previously unknown stories: how Donovan met Julius Nyerere, first prime minister of Tanzania; how a group of Protestants attempted to kill him; of his early disastrous attempt to hear confession in Swahili; of the relationship between Donovan’s work and Vatican II; and much about the mysterious Sonjo tribe, among whom Donovan spent his last years in Tanzania. They also give insights, from the hilarious to the poignant, into Donovan the man in relationship to his family, his missionary colleagues, and the Maasai. Copies of original photographs are also included.
Most significantly, the letters show Donovan’s evolution over the years from a young missionary who was passionate about acquiring land for church buildings, into a mature visionary convinced that the only job of the missionary is to preach the gospel. A concluding essay looks at the legacy of Donovan, thirty-five years later, with contributions from three Spiritan missionaries who continue to live out his legacy in Tanzania and elsewhere today. Finally, the essay looks at Donovan’s continuing influence on contemporary renewal movements in North America and in Britain. Those who have been inspired by Christianity Rediscovered–missiologists, church renewal leaders, and students of Gospel and culture–will find much here to delight and to challenge.