Review: No Place for Plastic Saints

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No Place for Plastic Saints: Earthquakes, Chicken Feet, and Candid Confessions of a Missionary Wife, by Margaret A. Register. Xulon Press, 2009.

In this delightful memoir, Margaret Register speaks in a conversational tone, drawing the reader first into her early years as a Methodist “preacher’s kid” who, with her parents, became Pentecostals while she was still young. She is authentic in describing, sometimes with great humor, the struggles, setbacks, and joys of her preparation for ministry—first as a pastor’s wife and then in answer to her missionary call—and the unexpected traumas of life as a “foreign” missionary for the Assemblies of God.

From language study to the country of Chile, and later in Paraguay, Register rejoices in miracles of provision, in miraculous healings in a tent church, in protection on steep Andean mountain roads. We cry with her as she describes disappointing resistance by some whom they went to serve. She recounts vividly an earthquake and many other unusual happenings (including dead bodies, chicken feet, and outhouses) as they ministered first in Temuco and then in Viña, Chile, and later in Paraguay, where, in addition to pastoring and teaching, they began a very successful television ministry that would eventually reach all of Latin America.

“But sometimes I felt false because ‘on stage’ [at American churches] my holy-self was demonstrated with wonderful stories from Viña,” writes Margaret Register, who with her husband, Joe, served Latin America as missionaries for 38 years starting in 1967. “Missionaries never talked in public about the painful times. I dared not mention the pain of Temuco. I felt like a plastic saint.”

Intrigued with Register’s transparency, a pastor states, “I could hardly put the book down to do other things. I laughed, sometimes had tears, and was amazed at the stories. I learned of the tremendous struggles that missionaries go through—finances, sickness, rejection, etc. I guess to us here in the States, missionary life looks a little too glamorous.”

“Who knew that missionary life was more than love offerings and extended vacations to exotic places?” says another reader.

Margaret Register has done a great service to the body of Christ in writing No Place for Plastic Saints. She excels in painting delightful and vivid word pictures so that you, the reader, feel you are there with her as she walks through each dramatic story. This is truly an authentic account of the good, the bad, and the miraculous in the life of a dedicated Pentecostal missionary family. This book is a must read!

Reviewed by Juanita Cunningham Blackburn, AGWM missionary

Paperback, 440 pages, illustrated. $22.99 retail. Order from: amazon.com

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