Roseveare, Helen. Enough. The Good Book Company, 2011.
In 1953, soon after graduating in Medicine from Cambridge University, Helen Roseveare served as a missionary to the Congo where she built a hospital and training centre for local doctors and medical staff. Seven years later the Congo became independent from Belgium and the country was immediately plunged into civil war. Roseveare was captured by rebel forces and imprisoned for five months, during which time she was raped and beaten multiple times. Remarkably, after her release and a brief period of respite in England she returned to the Congo to continue the medical work.
Helen passed away last year, leaving behind an incredible testimony of courage and faithfulness to Christ. The author of numerous books, “Enough” was one of her last. And this is perhaps the reason why it feels like a spiritual memoir of sorts, albeit a very brief one (only 78 pages long). She weaves in stories from her own spiritual journey around the core theme that “Christ is enough,” using 2 Corinthians 12:9 as her key text: “My grace is sufficient for you”. Her message, grounded in Scripture as well as personal experience, is that Christ is ‘enough’ for salvation, emotional support, contentment, and so on.
Through her childhood and student years through to her service in the Congo, she makes a compelling case that Christ really is enough for us in every conceivable situation. In her search for the truth as a young student, Roseveare discusses how she faced questions such as “How can a good God allow suffering?” And she tells of how she had to learn to trust that God is “big enough” for salvation, and further, assurance of salvation.
She goes on to describe the struggle to follow her call as a missionary. Her desire to have a husband resulted in her returning from the Congo and resigning from her role with her mission agency, WEC. It was only a temporary resignation and after being challenged at a Christian conference she renewed her call. Still, it can be easy to think of someone like Helen as a spiritual giant who ‘ordinary’ Christians can’t relate to. This example demonstrates that she too made mistakes like the rest of us (of course). In showing her vulnerability she testifies to the truth that Christ’s strength is shown through weakness.
Another valuable insight was the idea of her felt need for atonement even when she realised she had already been atoned for. This is a perspective that I’m sure will resonate with many Christians who, even though they know they have been forgiven, still often feel they need to “do something extra” to please or even appease God. This is another recurring theme developed throughout the book that follows naturally from the truth that Christ is sufficient for us. If we accept that Jesus is enough, we will naturally stop striving to “make up for” our failures and weaknesses, which is in fact to take away from the work of Christ.
“Enough” is a striking and engaging story of faith, winsomely told. Roseveare not only knows intellectually the power and sufficiency of Christ but has lived a life of faithfulness and can testify to the emotional, spiritual and even physical power of God to sustain and provide during the most difficult trials. I would encourage all Christians, especially those who struggle with feelings of guilt or not being “enough” for God to read this book. It is a refreshing reminder that Jesus is sufficient for our salvation, emotional support, contentment, and much, much more. Indeed as the author points out, he is “enough and to spare.”
Michael Shaw is the Editor of Cornerstone Network. He was formerly a Broadcast Journalist and Associate Producer at the BBC where he directed short films for ‘The One Show’ (BBC 1). He is currently studying Theology at Oxford University.