Letters By A Modern Mystic: Excerpts from Letters Written at Dansalan, Lake Lanao, Philippine Islands, to His Father (Paperback)
Letters by a Modern Mystic is a collection of excerpts from the letters of missionary Frank C. Laubach. Written between January 1930 and January 1932, these intimate writings show a faithful man's work to become closer to God through daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute practice.
Frank C. Laubach (1884-1970) was an American missionary and literacy advocate. After graduating from Princeton University (1909), Union Theological Seminary (1913), and Columbia University (Ph.D., 1915), he and his wife Emma sailed to the Philippines to begin their missionary life. They worked among the local Catholic population and spent seven years building evangelical churches on Mindanao, one of the largest Philippine islands. Laubach was later appointed to the faculty of Union Theological Seminary, helping to establish the campus in Manila. During this time, he wrote the book The People of the Philippines, a history of the islands and of religious life there.
After 14 years in the Philippines, Laubach traveled to Dansalan (renamed Malawi in 1956) to work with the Muslim Moros people. Finding them resistant to his evangelical message, he thought that a focus on literacy would be a better method for reaching them. He felt that approaching the Moros people with education and "a divine love which will speak Christ to them though I never use his name" would lead to greater results. His "each one teach one" method of learning to read spread quickly, leading to an explosion of literacy on the island.
During his time at Dansalan, Laubach was alone, his wife and son remaining on another island for health and education purposes. Laubach combatted his loneliness by writing letters to his father about his work, his faith, and his "deep mystic experience of God."
One might expect an evangelical Christian missionary from 1930 to be hostile to the ideas of another religion. But in fact, Laubach seems to welcome the Muslim perspective. "Living in the atmosphere of Islam is proving-thus far-a tremendous spiritual stimulation. Mohammed is helping me..." He found strength in some fundamentals of Islam. "Submission to God] is the first and last duty of man in Islam]", he writes. "That is exactly what I have been needing in my Christian life."
He felt that he had not, to this point in his life, made enough of an effort to live minute-by-minute with the will of God. This concept of living each minute for God comes up again and again. As he puts it into practice, Laubach seems to find a rapture and connection to God and his fellow man that he's never known before.
Written as personal letters rather than as a piece of literature, this short work is both intimate and readable. It provides valuable insight into the mind of a spiritual man, as well as inspiration for how the modern Christian can try to lead a more Christ-filled life. Even his failures provide encouragement. In a letter of April 1930, he confesses that the constant submission to God is difficult and that he often falls short.
In 1935, Laubach began to spread his literacy method to other countries. After retiring from his missionary work, he founded Laubach Literacy which has helped nearly 3 million people worldwide learn how to read. In 2002, the program merged with Literacy Volunteers of America to become Pro-Literacy, which still works to spread the written word globally.