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Runaway Radical: A Young Man's Reckless Journey to Save the World
Runaway Radical: A Young Man's Reckless Journey to Save the World
Amy Hollingsworth
Thomas Nelson, 2015
214 pp., $15.99

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D. L. Mayfield


The Yeast of the Pharisees

Missionary shipwreck.

We are here just what we are at home—not one bit better—and the devil is awfully busy … . There are missionary shipwrecks of once fair vessels.
—Amy Carmichael

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot wrote those words in 1949, when he was a college student bent on complete and utter obedience to the Lord. In 2001, as a high school senior, I took those same words and painted them onto a large poster board which I proudly displayed as a part of my final art project, sure that I was on the cusp of missionary greatness myself. In 2012, Jonathan Hollingsworth, a 19-year-old idealist, perhaps scribbled that same quote on the walls of his closet, sure of the importance both of the task God had set before him and the necessity of all the sacrifice that it would entail. How many other souls, more often young than not, have felt the same yearning and desire to do something with their lives? How many of us grew old and tired and despondent, wondering about the God who seemed to get us into this mess? And how many of us walked away, crushed by the weight of our desires to be of use to God, and never looked back?

Jonathan Hollingsworth is at the center of Runaway Radical: A Young Man's Reckless Journey to Save the World. He is no Jim Elliot, the book makes clear, and this narrative is a fly in the best-selling missionary memoir ointment. The subtitle sets the reader up for the premise: When Doing Good Goes Wrong. The authors are an interesting mother-son combination—Amy Hollingsworth is a well-recognized writer and speaker on such topics as psychology, creativity, and Mr. Rogers, and her 20-year-old son Jonathan is the "radical" in question. Amy, the stronger writer of the two, shoulders the burden of the narrative for the first half of the book, detailing what it was like to parent a child who even from a young age was fiercely committed to understanding and pleasing God. She recalls ...

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