Faith and a Life Jacket, by Ben Bernards

faith_life_jacketFaith and a Life Jacket: 7 Truths for your Eternal Mission
by Ben Bernards
Pub Date: September 1, 2016

I have not served an LDS mission. My plan is to serve one day with my spouse. (I have yet to find a spouse, so waiting on the Lord for that one.) But I do appreciate these kinds of “mission prep” books for their simple and down-to-earth stories and advice that are at a young person’s level. And if you have a future missionary in your life, this would make an excellent stocking stuffer (if you’re like me and already making up Christmas shopping lists!).

“Sooner or later, the fires of Anticipation will dim, the thrill of the Unexpected and New will fade. Discouragement and doubt will entice you to give up and walk away from it all. That’s when you’ll face the Decision Point—the moment where you get to choose how you will respond to your challenges: rising up to them and pressing forward with faith, or remaining disengaged and frustrated.”

The author frames his “7 truths” around his personal mission experiences. Why this man’s story has not been made into a film already is beyond me. He served in Fiji, for starters, and spent part of that time living in a hut in a village, where he and his companion would have to hunt and cook their own food, and ran into a few occasions when their lives were very literally in danger. And at one point his mission president sanctioned a missionary band! Missions aren’t always going to be that drama-filled, but I love the way the author demonstrates how these kinda crazy experiences showed the Lord’s hand, and how a young person can learn simple lessons from them that can be applied to their own experiences and lives, even after the mission.

What makes this book even better for me is how universal it ultimately is. I’m not preparing to go on a mission like the intended audience, but I can use the excellent advice the author offers and expounds on in my everyday life (and maybe one day I’ll get to apply it to a full-time mission). While I’m guessing none of this advice is particularly new or earth-shattering for the average reader (you’ve heard it all in General Conference over the years), it is presented in a way that is fun to read, and easy to digest. It’s not written in a “dumbed down” way that really bothers me with many books aimed at the youth, but in a way that is more at their level, and assumes they want to be treated as an adult. And even those of us not preparing to serve a full-time mission, or already have, can gain some insights – both practical and spiritual – from this relatively light read of a book. I think all of at, at various times in our lives, could use a little help building up our “mental arsenal,” as the author calls it, to keep the Spirit of the gospel burning bright.

Give this easily-digestible book a try. It’s a nice little companion for some personal scripture study, prep for a teen getting ready to serve a mission, or anyone who just needs a light church-centered read to get them through the week.