Just over 2000 years ago an unknown Jewish author wrote a history of the miseries his people suffered under three Syrian tyrants during the second century before Christ. He opened his work with an eloquent preface that has ever since been a model for countless authors. It is such an apt description of the proper motivation for writing a book, and of the toil required that I am going to purloin it for my own preface. He complains about the mass of facts and figures that confronted him and the difficulty of compressing everything he wanted to say into one volume. But nothing daunted, he pressed bravely on - "What a pile of statistics faced me! What a mountain of information! Yet despite the almost insuperable difficulties, I was determined to reduce it all to one book of readable history. I had three aims: to entertain those who read just for the pleasure of it; to help students who are obliged to master the facts of history; and to provide a work that will benefit both scholar and layman. "Few people realise how arduous it is to achieve those aims. At the very least it demands hard work and late nights. Someone who wants to put on a fine banquet and to please all the diners, must be willing to put in many hours of toil. Yet when it is all over, the host wants no better reward than the gratitude of the guests. That is just how I feel. "My plan has been to stick to the main points of my theme, and not get tangled in too much detail. I am like an architect who designs the general shape of a new building, then leaves it to others to pay attention to particulars of structure and decoration. It may be the duty of an original historian to tell everything there is to know about everything that happened, but that is not my task. My goal is more simple: not to spread myself across the whole terrain, but to be concise, and to show the main events and what they mean for my readers. So then, without further ado, let me get on with the story. It would be silly to stretch out this preface while cutting short the actual history!" The book you are now holding at least partly reflects the example of the ancient historian: it cost me "hard work and late nights". I am less confident about the loftier aims of pleasant reading, sound instruction, and general benefit. Judgment on those matters must be left, dear reader, to you. But I may hope at least that nothing in these pages contradicts sound doctrine, and that the end result will be a company of people fully equipped to serve Christ through the remarkable power of the charismata the Holy Spirit has planted in the church
Equipped to Serve by Ken Chant was published by Vision Publishing in August 2012. The ISBN for Equipped to Serve is 9781615290413.