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Trade Paperback
368 pages
Sep 2003
Discovery House

A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter

by Miriam Huffman Rockness

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


“A Passion for the Impossible, by Miriam Huffman Rockness, is a biography of missionary Lilias Trotter. The book is divided into two sections, beginning with a brief account of her grandparents and parents, through her childhood and life to age thirty-four; here, the second section of the book picks up her life as missionary to Algeria in 1888.

“The author’s interest in Trotter developed over time as she received copies of the missionary’s writings from friends. Eventually she traveled to the headquarters of the Arab World Ministries, which houses the Trotter archives. Most of Lillias Trotter’s writings have been out of print for years, a situation that Rockness has set out to remedy.

“The first section of the book may prove a bit tedious for someone not interested in historical background, or who enjoys jumping into the action immediately. It is interesting to trace Trotter’s spiritual development, and to sense a bit of the struggle she must have faced in giving up a budding career as an artist. She was influenced by the ministry of D.L. Moody, and was actively involved in the early days of the YWCA. On her thirty-fourth birthday she applied to the North African Mission for service in Algeria, and was denied because of a heart condition. Undeterred, she and two friends sailed for Africa nine months later, completely self-supported. They spoke no Arabic, knew no one, and Lillias spent the rest of her life there, dying in 1928 at the age of seventy-five after forty years of service. The amount of work that she did is remarkable for the time in which she lived: several mission stations in out-of-the-way places, and numerous books and teaching materials in English, French, and Arabic.

“A Passion for the Impossible may be a bit too detailed for some, but will be a challenge and encouragement to anyone interested in foreign missions, and to those who desire to serve the Lord wherever He has placed them.” – Pam Glass, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

This is the story of the woman whose life of faith and devotion inspired the hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." Although art critic John Ruskin enthusiastically proclaimed Lilias Trotter's potential as one of the best artists of the nineteenth century, her devotion to Christ compelled her to abandon the life of art, privilege, and leisure she could have enjoyed.

Without knowing the language and without the sponsorship of any organization, Lilias left her London home of comfort for a modest dwelling in Algeria, where her love of literature and art became dynamic tools for evangelism, and where her compassionate heart captured the hearts of the people. For forty years, despite frail health and many obstacles, Lilias devoted herself to missionary service among the people of Algeria through her lifestyle of love and encouragement.