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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Andrew Murray Destined to Serve, by Olea Nel, portrays the early ministry of a young South African. Andrew is sent to Scotland, along with his brother John, to receive their liberal education. Afterwards, they study at Aberdeen University, receiving their theological degree sponsored by the Dutch Reformed Church. Shortly after returning home, both Andrew and John receive pastoral appointments. Andrew’s assignment is unusual. According to “church law” no one is to have their own congregation until after their 22nd birthday. Andrew was barely twenty-one. However, church leadership feels that Andrew is the “perfect answer to the religious situation in the Sovereignty.” He is a born leader, bold, forthright and has a superior education. With youthful exuberance, he rises to the challenge. However, Andrew is tested in ways that he did not expect. Escaping lions was one thing, but learning to say “no” to persuasive influential men was quite another. The first year of Andrew Murray’s ministry was taxing to both his physical and spiritual health. Through it all, he learned great lessons regarding the spiritual dangers of self and pride.
Olea Nel writes an exceptional biographical novel in Andrew Murray Destined to Serve. The novel is well researched and informative, but not journalistic. This novel far surpasses a non-fiction memoir. Written in first person, Nel captures the heart and soul of Andrew Murray, portraying his thoughts, emotions and wisdom. The plot flows, depicting the highs and lows of the first year of Murray’s ministry. The settings are picturesque; revealing life on board ship, the architecture of South Africa and life on the African plains. Andrew Murray Destined to Serve historically portrays the laws of the Dutch Reformed Church and political disputes that were dividing the region at the time. The work includes maps that allow the reader to acknowledge the distance and topography of Murray’s arduous journeys through the South African Sovereignty. Using many Dutch terms in the narrative, Nel graciously includes a glossary to aid the reader as well. Olea Nel opens the door into Andrew Murray’s life, dramatically revealing the service of his life. I am looking forward to her next novel, Andrew Murray Destined to Preach.