The Boy Who Gave Himself to God
Review of ‘Born to Give’ by David Grant
When I was a kid, Dad paid me to read biographies of missionaries. He believed doing so would both inform and inspire my faith. I remember reading about Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone, and George Mueller in Moody Publisher’s Golden Oldies series. I also read High Adventure in Tibet about Victor Plymire, my great uncle.
Missionary biographies do inform and inspire, which is why I continue to read them today, even though Dad no longer pays me to do so. My friend David Grant recently published his memoir with Charisma House. Titled Born to Give, Grant recounts stories from his 50+ years as an Assemblies of God missionary to India, as well as cofounder — with his wife, Dr. Beth Grant — of Project Rescue, a ministry to women enslaved in sex trafficking.
If you know David Grant, you know that he is on the move with a friend alongside and a story to tell. Born to Give is not a detailed biography. Rather, it is a series of revealing stories told in roughly chronological order.
Many of the stories are laugh-out-loud funny, like the time Grant baptized his parents’ chickens as he and his siblings played church. Some of them are heart-wrenching, such as the story about the Bengali baby left on the Grants’ doorstep in Kolkata who didn’t survive the night. Still others remind you of the need for compassion in a sinful world, such as the one about the orphaned daughter of a prostitute who was born with AIDS.
Evangelism and compassion aren’t competitors in God’s mission. They require and reinforce one another.
My favorite is the one Grant tells about hearing legendary AG missionary Charles Greenaway preach a missionary service at his dad’s church. When the ushers collected the offering, Grant, then just 12 years old, put the offering plate on the floor, stood on it, and gave himself to God. It was then that the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said, “David, you will go to India.” Missions has been the single-minded focus of his life ever since.
As you read Born to Give, you’ll learn a lot about mid-twentieth-century Pentecostalism, which then existed “on the wrong side of the tracks.” The Pentecostal movement was not socially accepted when Grant was a child, and it had many rough edges, but it also produced men and women of great faith.
You’ll learn about some of them through Grant’s stories: Missionaries such as Charles Greenaway, Mark and Huldah Buntain, and “Mother” Doris Edwards, and. Indian church leaders such as Y. Jeyaraj, David Mohan, and Ivan Satyavrata.
Mostly, though, you’ll be inspired by the example of Grant’s dedication to serving the lost and the least. Evangelism and compassion aren’t competitors in God’s mission. They require and reinforce one another.
When I was younger, I believed that theology was taught solely by patient Bible exposition and careful systematic thinking. The older I get, however, the more I realize it is also caught through the stories of God’s people. How we live is the real proof of what we believe.
With Born to Give, David Grant has thrown us an inspiring, catchable faith.
David Grant, Born to Give (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2021).