Note: I received this book for free from YWAM Publishing in exchange for an honest review (which you are about to read). Thank you again, YWAM!
Bruce Olson was a teenage Minnesotan, who, after seeking and finding God in his early teens, was led of the Lord to go to South America and serve the people. Bruchko is the true story of what happened after he said “yes” to that call. He has lived among native tribes, witnessed miracles, and shared Jesus in South America, where he still lives.
The Things I Liked
- Mr. Olson’s testimony was amazing! It was definitely inspiring, as he was just 14 when he came to Jesus after seeking the Lord for himself.
- His description of the calling he was given was so true for all of us–that it’s not necessarily about being a “missionary,” but about following Jesus out loud, so to speak, no matter where that may be.
- The narrative style in this book was gripping. I literally went through half the book in one sitting, and I never would’ve guessed I had read that many pages if I hadn’t looked.
- The difference between knowing God in one’s head and personally having a relationship with God is stressed heavily, especially in the first few chapters.
- There were several instances throughout the book where people “missionaries” often regard as the “bad guys” (think guerrillas or Communists) come to the Lord as a result of Mr. Olson’s obedience and continued love toward them.
- There are several instances of wonderful miracles, such as divine healing and speaking in languages one doesn’t know, though these do not seem to be Mr. Olson’s normal or comfort zone.
(The next section will detail the things I didn’t like about this book. I am not writing these things down to somehow detract from Mr. Olson’s powerful testimony or to dissuade you from reading the book, but, rather, to make you aware of certain points that stood out to me that either may offend you or that represent a spiritual untruth that was never clarified)
The Things I Didn’t Like
- There was a pact taken at one point in the book for Mr. Olson to become “pact brothers,” as is Motilone culture, with an unbeliever. In the Bible (red letters included), we are instructed not to make promises, oaths, vows, etc., even though that’s a popular thing to do in this day and age, and healthy and unhealthy emotional connections to folks are also demonstrated in the Bible.
- There’s a bit of sympathy toward Catholicism mentioned a few times, in which Mr. Olson is okay with going to Mass or dating a Catholic. The idolatry or paganism of Catholicism is never mentioned, and, although Mr. Olson never mentions becoming a Catholic, he doesn’t seem to mind Catholicism much.
- Mr. Olson cooperates with a witch doctor several times, even being chanted over, etc., in order to get a platform from which to use medicine. Eventually the witch doctors are depicted praying for people in Jesus’ name and expecting miracles (which happen).
- There is a strong emphasis throughout the book on “culture missions,” or, in other words, expressing the Gospel message through the lens of someone’s culture. I’m not entirely against using already existing culture (which sometimes, surprisingly enough, points to that God wrote His law on our hearts, and often resemble the story of man’s depravity and God’s love, which leads to repentance), and I think missions should refrain from Americanization, but there is a point where it could be taken too seriously. I’m not entirely sure that this book crossed that line, but there was a very long period of time (four or five years) that Mr. Olson did not share his faith with the Motilones because he waited to learn their culture. There were also statements like “Jesus, become a Motilone,” when, in reality, Jesus doesn’t have to be from any particular tribe or tongue in order to save us from our sin. We need not be hesitant about sharing the simple gospel or feel obligated to make it American or native in some way. Just as we are called to be citizens of Heaven and pilgrims just passing through that are not tied to a land or nation, Jesus was the Son of God just passing through, and His gospel doesn’t change from culture to culture. *rant ends*
- Another unclarified principle I found throughout the book was an emphasis on humanitarianism, especially in the foreword and epilogue whenever statistics are given on how many schools or medical centers were built. I personally don’t know Mr. Olson and have no way of knowing his individual motives, but a bit of humanitarianism came across in the book.
- There were several incidents of breaking the law that were not justified.
Note to Parents
There are several disturbing instances in this book, so I’d recommend pre-reading for younger or more sensitive children. I wouldn’t expect teens or tweens to be disturbed greatly, but, again, exercise caution if your child is very sensitive. Some examples of content are:
- An incident where a machine-gun fight is held and terms such as “red shower” or “oozing with blood” are used
- A mention of “rotting bodies”
- (SPOILER) A suspenseful attempt at execution which leads up to the firing squad shooting blanks
- Several mentions of vomiting
- An epidemic during which people are lying in their own excrement, with dried vomit on their clothes
- Several detailed descriptions of disease or illness, which may disturb more medically sensitive children
This gripping narrative will definitely take you no time to read, and you will definitely relate to Mr. Olson’s story by the end of it. This book may not be great for your younger children, and you may want to clarify certain doctrinal issues such as those mentioned in the Things I Didn’t Like section for your older children, but it’s definitely a great read for your tween or teen and a great homeschool assignment! Adults will undoubtedly enjoy this book as well.
How to Purchase
I recommend buying this book from YWAM Publishing. If you’re looking for a cheaper choice, try thrift sites online.
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