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Book Reviews, Books

Book Review: The Midwife of Borneo

Title: The Midwife of Borneo: The True Story of a Geordie Pioneer

Author: Wendy Grey Rogerson and Barbara Fox

Publisher: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge

Genre: Christian nonfiction/ Memoir

I have always wanted to go on a mission trip to a foreign country. There was even a point during my college years when I seriously considered dropping out of school and joining the Peace Corps.

As an adult and a minister in the United Methodist Church, I’ve been on several mission trips in the continental United States; however, I’ve still never had the opportunity to be a missionary to another country.  That is why I was so excited to read The Midwife of Borneo. The author didn’t just dream about traveling to distant places to serve God- she was actually willing to go out and serve!

Despite the fact that many years have passed since her time in Borneo, Rogerson writes in a style that makes the events feel as if they happened only yesterday. With the help of the diary that she kept during her travels, Rogerson is able to reconstruct her day to day life for the reader with meticulous care.

Rogerson recounts her exploits in Borneo with characteristic understated British humor.  It’s the little gritty details of her day to day experience in Borneo that made this book truly come alive for me. Even when rats fall from the ceiling or she finds a snake in the outdoor toilet, Rogerson doesn’t lose her head.

There was something delightfully British about this book and Rogerson’s “Keep Calm and Carry On,” attitude. I couldn’t help but smile as she described sitting in her small home in the tropical weather and attempting to sing Handel’s Messiah while accompanying herself on the piano. despite the fact that she had recently undergone a tonsillectomy. 

I felt as if I was truly present with Rogerson throughout her adventures in Borneo. She includes photographs of the colorful cast of characters whom she encountered during her time in there.

For me, the most touching picture was a “before” and “after” photo of a young woman who Rogerson had helped to treat for tuberculosis. This striking image clearly depicted for me just how important the work Rogerson and her colleagues were doing as they ministered to the people of Borneo.

I will also admit that I picked up this book with a bit of trepidation. I’m always leery to see how white authors write about indigenous people (I’m Filipino-American); however, I need not have worried. Although some of the terminology that Rogerson uses is no longer quite politically correct, it is clear that she truly cares about the people of Borneo and that she respects them as individuals. Her abiding love for the people of Borneo shines through in her writing. 

Many times when people speak about mission trips, they have a tendency to gloss over the challenges and difficulties. I appreciated Rogerson’s candid prose and the way she wasn’t afraid to describe both the challenges and the joys of serving as a missionary in a land that was foreign to her.

I recommend this book for anyone who has ever felt the desire to live in a different culture, explore a foreign country, or serve as a missionary.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own. 



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