A global citizen. A commitment to sharing the peace of Jesus. A witness to the difference that Jesus makes.
The story David Shenk either begins in Shirati Village in Tanganyika, East Africa, or we might decide it begins among the orchards of Lancaster County, Pa., where farmers with their horses line up a mile for water as they rearrange their loads for their trek home on market day. In either reading, this is a story of mission—a story of people chattering along a roadside spring on the way to and from market.
At age six, Shenk asked his parents, “What difference does Jesus make?” The answer to that question is the reason he became a Christian. Day by day, as he travels in the way of Jesus—living, serving, and ministering around the world—Shenk continues to unpack what difference Jesus makes. This is the story not just of Shenk and his remarkable work in Christian missions. It’s the stories that David has heard within societies, cultures, and religions when he asks the question: What difference does Jesus make?
David W. Shenk is the founder emeritus member of the Christian-Muslim Relations Team for Eastern Mennonite Missions. His particular focus is on bearing witness to the peace of Christ in a world of religious and ideological pluralism. He is a professor and author or coauthor of twenty books, including A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue, Journeys of the Muslim Nation and the Christian Church,Teatime in Mogadishu and Christian. Muslim. Friend.
“The life journey of David and Grace Shenk reads like the book of Acts, with the Spirit empowering them and opening doors to share the joy of knowing Jesus in multiple cultures and languages. Their respectful and sustained dialogue with Muslims sets a high standard for spiritually grounded witness in a world too often polarized.”
~J. NELSON KRAYBILL, president of Mennonite World Conference
“‘When he calls me, I will answer.’ This was a popular chorus that we sang in East Africa. Answering the call of God requires boldness. David Shenk is quick to add that such boldness, however, is a gentle kind. In this book, you will encounter exactly that gentleness as David tells his story of responding to the Lord’s summons to make a difference in the world. My family in Kenya is an example of those who were touched by this gentle yet bold response. From the orchards of Lancaster County to East Africa and beyond, Shenk tells stories of encounters as a peace witness to God’s transforming power. This is a must-read for those who believe in the difference that Jesus makes! I heartily endorse it!”
~NELSON OKANYA, global missions president at the Center for Serving Leadership
“This book drips with the love of Jesus. The stories contained here transport us to places and people we think can never be reconciled—and yet miracles happen! And all it takes is saying yes to the call of Jesus. If you’re looking for examples of how mission and peacemaking go together or ways to be inspired in your own faith journey, say yes to this book!”
~MICHELE HERSHBERGER, Bible and ministry professor and department chair at Hesston College
“This lively memoir testifies to a remarkable journey of Christian faithfulness that spans an astonishing range of continents, contexts, and cultures. The sources of David Shenk’s confident witness are clear: a deep love for all of God’s children, an unwavering focus on Jesus, and an irrepressible sense of joy. The legacy of his work—especially in Muslim-Christian relations—will echo for decades to come.”
~JOHN D. ROTH, professor of history, director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism, and editor of the Mennonite Quarterly Review at Goshen College
“David Shenk is my friend and mentor. This memoir gifts us with stories from his childhood on through to the peak of his international and diverse career as an ambassador of Christ. Transcending memories, it tells a story of communities of faith impacting and interacting in surprising ways. The Mennonite church that sent David out to share Christ was itself transformed by discoveries of the Spirit by those to whom they witnessed. Beyond a missionary tale, this is a story of a missionary God who invited David along for the ride!”
~JONATHAN BORNMAN, member of the Christian-Muslim Relations Team at Eastern Mennonite Missions
“David Shenk’s teaching and example have been foundational for my own life of mission and ministry, so I have eagerly awaited this book. In it, David uses his gifts of storytelling to give us a deeply personal account of the people, places, and contexts that have shaped his work. It’s a story of the joyous adventure that awaits those who, like David and Grace, say yes to Jesus.”
~LORRI BENTCH, mission team director for Eastern Mennonite Missions
“If you get weary in well-doing as I do, then listen to David Shenk, who insists: ‘Let God surprise you.’ Take it from a man who knelt in prayer as a small boy when the East African revival swept his hometown. Watch as he keeps saying yes even at unexpected, inconvenient, awkward times, in the presence of heads of state, witch doctors, Bible college students, church bishops, and imams. You will see and hear living proof that laying down one’s life daily for Jesus promises joy-filled surprises, unexpected, divinely arranged adventures, and ‘holy mischief’ for the sake of God’s reign.”
~REV. JIM LAVERTY, lead pastor of Mountville (Pa.) Mennonite Church
“David Shenk’s gentle and bold approach has set an example for a generation of interfaith peacemakers, now spread out across the globe. His invitation to the reader—let God surprise you—is evident even as he looks back over his own life of service in response to God’s calling. Jesus met young David in Tanzania, sojourned with him in Somalia and onward, and now meets us on the pages of A Gentle Boldness.”
~PETER M. SENSENIG, member of the Christian-Muslim Relations Team at Eastern Mennonite Missions