F.W. Boreham & His Mentor, J.J. Doke

F. W. Boreham (1871-1959) has long been one of my favourite authors. I am not sure where I first encountered his writings. Most likely I came across them in what was then the library at Central Baptist Seminary,Toronto, the first school where I had full-time employment as a teacher. But I took an immediate liking to this author who was the final student C. H. Spurgeon ever accepted into his Pastor’s College. The books I first read were his unique topical sermons on Bible texts that he preached in Baptist Churches in New Zealand and Australia and that summed up the lives of various figures in church history. Boreham’s A Bunch of Everlastings (1920) and A Casket of Cameos (1924) are gems in this regard. It was with great interest, then, that I picked up this slim study—F. W. Boreham, Lover of Life: F. W. Boreham’s Tribute to His Mentor (Eureka, California: John Broadbanks Publishing, 2007)—by Boreham on the man who was his mentor, Joseph John Doke (1861–1913). Doke was a Devonian from the West Country in England who came out to New Zealand when Boreham had just arrived at his first pastoral charge. The two became close friends and in the matrix of their friendship there was what proved to be a rich experience for Boreham, namely that of being mentored by Doke. It was Doke who helped make Boreham into a voracious reader when Boreham had come to recognize the limitations of his theological training. The solution Doke suggested was reading: “Read my dear man,” he once told Boreham, “Read; and read systematically; and keep on reading; never give up” (p. 8)!

It was also Doke who challenged Boreham to reflect deeply on how to walk with God. On one occasion, by role-playing, he helped Boreham learn how to minister to the sick and dying. As Geoff Pound states in the introduction, this small work is “a helpful vision of what a mentoring relationship might become” (p. x).

Though a frail man physically, Doke was cut from heroic cloth, as his later years well reveal when he helped Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle for human rights in South Africa. On one occasion he even saved Gandhi’s life.

This is the first of a series of Boreham’s books that are being reprinted by the newly-formed John Broadbanks Publishing. It is attractively produced and augurs well for future reprints.

Note: “Chuddigh” on p. 6 should be “Chudleigh.”

To learn more about Boreham, visit: “The Official F W Boreham Blog Site” (http://fwboreham.blogspot.com/). For a brief biography, see Geoff Pound, “F. W. Boreham: Australia’s Greatest Baptist Preacher Ever”, The Baptist Studies Bulletin, 6, No.1 (January 2007) (http://www.centerforbaptiststudies.org/bulletin/2007/january.htm#Worlds%20Greatest ).