Bruchko by Bruce Olson


The whole house was in an uproar. All work stopped. Those who couldn’t get close to Abacurina stood on the perimeter of the crowd and talked or walked swiftly to the door and started outside. I got out of my hammock. The chief was standing at one of the doors. I drew him aside. 

“I want to talk to you,” I said. “What does it mean that the tiger spoke?” 

“It means we’re in for big trouble,” he said. 

“But what kind of trouble? What could a tiger say that would be dangerous?” 

“I’m going into the jungle to talk to the tiger. He’ll tell me.” 

“But Chief,” I said, “tigers don’t talk. This is nonsense.”

He gave me a quick, hard glance. “Look,” he said, ”you don’t know anything about the jungle. You don’t know how to hunt; you don’t know what to eat. You can’t keep up trail. What makes you think you know anything about tigers?”

There wasn’t much I could say. I looked at him in nervous astonishment, while he stared coldly into the jungle. Then, with monumental effort, he squared his shoulders and walked out of the house. I watched him across the clearing and disappear, alone, into the trees. I turned. Everyone in the home was looking at the area where he had disappeared. 



Title: Bruchko

Author: Bruce Olson

Category: Non Fiction/ Biography 

I came to know of Bruchko because it was a selected book for this semester’s reading text. At first I wasn’t looking forward to read it because of the stereotype I’ve always carried about books we read in class. This mindset seems to be taking a turn around and I look forward for more interesting reads during my course work.

Bruchko is a biography book about Bruce Olson, a Christian missionary who sets out to the Motilones, an Indian community in South America, with the aim of spreading the word of God.

Growing up, Bruce used to attend the Lutheran church together with his family where he was also confirmed.  During his time attending the Lutheran church, Bruce never knew about Jesus which he came to learn of later during his New Testament studies. This marked a turning point for him because reading through the Old Testament, he knew God as a judgmental God and this had him so afraid. But when he delved into the New Testament and the book of John particularly, Bruce came to a personal contact with Jesus and he was so astounded by the experience.

It was a fulfilling moment for the teenage boy that had him all excited and he looked forward to share the news of his experience with Jesus with his friends at the church, his parents and his Lutheran Church Pastor. It turned out to be a bad idea since everyone was against his new discovery to the extent of his pastor trying to talk him out of the idea where he sat him and said;

‘Listen Olson, you’ve gotten some kind of Holy Roller ideas from somewhere. But don’t give your life to fanaticism. Take the mask off. You’re no different from anyone else.’

Reading through this conflict section, I got myself questioning the Christian values of the Lutheran church. It sort of makes one doubt the church values but then again, who are we to judge?

The fall of Bruce and his father was very disheartening since he, (Bruce’s father) kept mocking and intimidating him whenever he’d got home after attending Church service at his friends, Kent Lange’s, Interdenominational church. For the longest time since he started attending church sermons, Bruce never felt fulfilled and empowered as he did every time he attended church services at the interdenominational church.

During one of the missionary conferences at the interdenominational church, Bruce was challenged after Mr Rayburn talked of his mission work in New Guinea, Africa, saying that people were lost, starving for the knowledge of God. He urged the audiences to do more than lip service and take the gospel of God to such populations. Bruce’s desire to go and accomplish God’s mission started developing and he’d later settle to fly down to South America, in Venezuela for his missionary work.

He’s application to a mission board was turned down but that didn’t deter God’s plan for Bruce in South America.  Miraculously, Bruce armed with just a train ticket and no money for food or a place to sleep, Bruce set off to Venezuela where God started providing for him. I kept marveling at how God made things work for Bruce. He sent people along his way that housed him, gave him money for food.

Bruce faced rejection, was almost killed when he first visited the Motilones but indeed God had a greater plan for him. He was accepted by the Motilones and gradually through his newly found pact brother, Bobarishora aka Bobby, Bruce was able to share the word of God with them, introduced modern medicine through the community’s most trusted witch doctor, and educated them as well.

What struck me and had me thinking keenly as a Christian was Bruce’s patience and trust in God. He believed that God called him to the Motilones and would provide, protect and fulfill His mission through him. Bruce was persistent and he shunned everyone and the challenges he faced which tried to bring him out of the mission work. At some point I kept thinking that Bruce would give up the dream of carrying out God’s work and focus on his career of being a Professor in Linguistics. But his urge and drive to share the word of God kept growing and pushing him to do that which even he himself thought would be impossible.

This realization drew me back to the story of Moses. When God chose Moses and most of the prophets in the Bible, neither one of them was well prepared and ready to do God’s work, but with time, they knew how to carry out the hard tasks and saw to the success of it.

The title of the book was derived from the way the Indians called Bruce having found it difficult to enunciate the name Bruce.

Bruchko is an interesting for any Christian who’d like to reflect on how God uses His chosen ones to fulfill His task. It challenges one’s faith and trust in God. I’d recommend it to everyone looking for a great Christian mission read and Christians in general.

It’s filled with eventful twists that will have you hooked from the front cover to the back.  It will make you realize that that which God has planned and set ahead of you, goes far beyond any man’s understanding and expectation. Okay enough of preaching…., have you read the book? What other christian mission book would you recommend?

Peace be with you





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