Reviewed by: Tiffany Ward
Byang Kato, by Simonetta Carr. Reformation Heritage, 2022. Hardcover, 64 pages, $14.00. Reviewed by OP member Tiffany Ward.
Simonetta Carr’s Byang Kato is the latest volume in her series of Christian Biographies for Young Readers. Carr thoroughly acquaints readers with Byang Kato (1936–1975), an inspirational Nigerian man from the district of Kwoi who converted to Christianity out of the juju religion of the Ham people. Kato became a passionate follower of Christ during a time when the gospel took root in his region, with the Lord bringing half of the population to faith in Christ. Kato would eventually become an evangelical forefather in Africa, and a leader in various missions organizations.
As he grew from a young Christian boy into a man, he was burdened with the sense that Christian leaders in Africa needed theological education. With very little opportunity for Christian study, Kato, along with his wife and children, sacrificed greatly to send him to several theological training grounds. First he studied at Igbaja Bible College, then London Bible College, and eventually Dallas Theological Seminary. In a day when many Christians deride the need for theological education, Kato stands in sharp contrast, going to great lengths to ensure that he was an educated minister for Africa.
Carr exposes children to difficult questions Kato faced in his daily ministries, such as whether Christianity should look different in Africa than in other parts of the world. Kato’s answers are deep, helpful, and align with Reformed teaching.
This book drives readers, young and old, to an appreciation for the preciousness of the gospel and Christian education. Throughout the book, Kato’s example of persistent labor for Christ—even amid hostility—causes readers to reflect on their own selfishness and consider whether they are really making “the best use of the time” (Eph. 5:16). The book highlights the many ways Kato served the church in Africa and beyond, showing how glorious Christian labor is often outwardly ordinary. Kato’s life and example, particularly in how he raised and catechized his children, encourages child readers to ask questions about God at home, and to be able to defend their beliefs from the Bible. The biographical content of the book is surprisingly extensive and is compellingly written. With eye-catching illustrations, photographs, and maps, Carr does a fantastic job immersing the reader in the life of Byang Kato and displays his wide-reaching influence and impact for the Lord. Her research for the book brought her into contact with many primary sources such as his speeches and writings, photographs, and contributions from his son, Paul Kato, all of which deeply enrich the narrative.
This book is an inspiring and convicting biography for young Christian readers, and worthy of its recommendations. In the words of Byang Kato, this book reminds Christians that “The world is the field” for us all.
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