By Bert B. Beach, Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2012.
Bert B. Beach was born in Switzerland in 1928. His parents were American missionaries in Europe. The Seventh-day Adventist Church they served then was only 65 years old with a membership of approximately 275,000. Today, our membership exceeds 17 million. The author’s life spans the church’s history, growth, and development. In this, he is somewhat unique.
During this period, Dr. Beach, arguably more than any other Seventh-day Adventist, has been “building bridges of faith, friendship, and freedom.”
This book is organized into three sections: (1) Being: his developing as a person; (2) Doing: the story of his lifework; and (3) Thinking: working out the difficult task of how to live the life that pleases God.
This book is well worth reading by church members, educators, administrators, pastors, and leaders. The author has filled each of these roles and has sensible counsel to impart in each category.
He shares his personal failings, not in the least the occasions when he has hurt others. He is modest about his achievements and honors. Beach has rubbed shoulders with significant world figures: protestant archbishops, Popes John XXIII and Benedict XVI, royalty, and presidents of many countries—always as an ambassador and bridge builder for his Lord and church.
Solomon observed that he who has friends must show himself friendly (Prov. 18:24). Here, the author has excelled. A friend remarked to me, “He has grown wiser, wittier, and more winsome.”
Beach teaches by precept and example. The book’s final chapter, The Revived Spiritual Life, is worth the price of the book for the condensed wisdom and spiritual truth within. Of great value in this story of Bert Beach’s life is how the Christian can have fellowship with those of different faiths without being judgmental, critical, offensive, or holier than others while being true to one’s own beliefs and giving a witness of Christ.
Ambassador for Liberty is an enjoyable read, reflecting the life and work of the author in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the God he serves. As he puts it, “I don’t need extraordinary abilities or great occasions to work for God, and neither does anyone else” (179).
—Reviewed by Patrick Boyle, MA, a retired pastor living in Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.