The annals of the Church are replete with the names of missionary saints: Francis of Assisi, David Brainerd, David Livingstone, Mary Slessor, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, Mother Teresa—the list is virtually unending. With Edwin and Lillian Harvey as my parents, it is not surprising that I grew up, as it were, on these saints. They were my heroes and heroines—my standards of devotion, my blueprints of sacrifice.
But it was not until I was in my early teens that I heard about George Bowen of Bombay.
While browsing in a secondhand bookstore in Belfast, Northern Ireland, my father struck up a conversation with the owner who mentioned the author, George Bowen. “If you ever come across one of his books,” he told my dad, “grab it. It’s a prize.” Some years later, my father remembered this advice when he visited a skid row mission in Chacago. After preaching to the men, he was browsing in their library and stumbled across Love Revealed by Bowen—devotional meditations on the upper room chapters of St. John’s Gospel. Borrowing it from the mission, he took his treasure back home to England, read it to his family and fellow mission workers, digested it from cover to cover, reprinted it, and mailed several copies to the mission in Chicago.
This, then, is how George Bowen entered my life and our publishing. But it was not until after my dad’s death that my mother obtained the unabridged biography of George Bowen. I remember my husband reading it to her day by day as she sat in her recliner, by then well into her nineties and diagnosed with dementia. It was probably the last book we read to her, bar the Bible, of course.
As the years have passed and an increasing number of our readers have been blessed by Love Revealed, it has been our intention to make Bowen’s remarkable life-story accessible to them. At first, we attempted to abridge it but that attempt never materialized. And yet although this biography is very lengthy and written in Victorian English, it is a gripping and inspiring portrayal of the “White Saint” as Bowen came to be called. His intellect was mind-boggling in its scope and depth as anyone reading his books soon discovers, and his sacrificial life-style was virtually unparalleled in the history of missions. Christ and Christ alone was his passion, his consuming love, and his inseparable Friend.
While proofing the manuscript several times during the past months, I have become increasingly aware that George Bowen was entering the inner sanctums of my heart. In fact, I found it almost impossible to describe my emotions as I closed the book for the fourth time several days ago. What was there about this man, I ask myself, that has moved me so deeply? His rare combination of genius and spirituality? His faithfulness to his missionary call whatever the cost? His humility and sacrifice? All this, admittedly, has greatly influenced me, but it is something more that makes me, even now, want to fall down and worship my Redeemer. It is, in fact, nothing more or less than George Bowen’s obsession, and I use that word deliberately, with Jesus Christ! This humble and eccentric missionary has made me fall in love afresh with my Lord and Savior. And that is recommendation enough, is it not?
Trudy Harvey Tait
Writings of George Bowen available from Harvey Christian Publishers:
Love Revealed — https://harveycp.com/?product=love-revealed
Daily Meditations — email firstname.lastname@example.org for a digital file.
The Amens of Christ — email as above for a digital file.
George Bowen of Bombay by Robert E. Speer $24.95 — available by November 1st.