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It's the Journey

It's the Journey

Timothy Biles

Leicester: Christians Aware, 2021

It's available to purchase from Christians Aware.

Mini Review by: Peter Jones

Long term residents of Beaminster (Dorset) and the surrounding villages may well remember Canon Tim Biles who was in charge of the Beaminster Team Ministry for 20 years up to the millennium. Tim’s latest book, It’s the Journey has just been published.

Tim has always been a colourful character, not backward in coming forward and an inveterate traveller, especially to the Middle East. He tasted excitement on his first major trip abroad when he was an assistant to Sir Donald Bradman, the famous cricketer, in Adelaide as a student and has since followed up in some of the most challenging parts of the world. He has used his foreign experiences as the basis for previous books but he has now pulled everything together in a fascinating series of penetrating, first hand, observations from around the world that demonstrate Tim’s deep understanding of the human character.

The book is made up of a series of short descriptions of individual journeys undertaken by Tim. The beauty of the book is the quality and depth of Tim’s travels. He and Joan meet and chat with Yasser Arafat in which we discover that Arafat was married to a Christian, find that he supported all churches but was surprised at lack of concern around the world at the plight of Christian churches in the Holy Land. This piece is complemented with a photo of Joan and Yasser, one of many interesting illustrations in the book.

In various pieces Tim finds heroes and victims from all the faiths, Moslems of Pakistan, the Hindus of India, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and the Jews of Israel-Palestine, as wars and turbulence drive people to support each other in the search for safety and a life worth living.

Throughout the book, I was struck by Tim’s real humanity, whether commenting on the role of women at an all-male feast in Sudan or on the poverty he saw in Calcutta and other parts of India. He shows himself to be a true Christian in the wider sense of the word.

Aside from the deprivations on the Indian subcontinent, Tim has the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal and wonder at its sheer beauty along with sorties to less well-known treasures like Maharajah of Mysore and Quito in Ecuador at the cenre of the world.

The author meets famous people along the way, from a young Sachin Tendulkar who found Tim a precious seat on a bus to Goa, to an encounter with one Archbishop of Canterbury in a war zone in South Sudan and an earlier one in a hospital in Pakistan. However, the book is essentially about ordinary people and the human character in testing circumstances.

It’s the Journey is a multi-faceted book, full of amazing stories, but not always that easy to follow. There is much compassion and wisdom in its pages and it’s well worth the time spent reading it.

Whilst it is true that the meaning is in the journey not the destination, Tim Biles has been to some fascinating places. He has collected his reflections on a series of vivid encounters and made them into good stories. What I like most of all is the way in which he opens the experience to us and does not try to resolve the puzzles, dilemmas and contradictions he encountered. He enjoys life and loves people. In seeking meaning, his own beliefs and values become clear but he leaves us with work to do.

Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury

In this book he reflects on his experiences of life in lands dominated by the Moslems of Pakistan, the Hindus of India, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and the Jews of Israel-Palestine. He also finds heroes and victims from all the faiths as wars and turbulence drive people to support each other in the search for safety and a life worth living.

About the Author:

TIMOTHY BILES was editor of Bible Lands for 10 years. He has been travelling in the Middle East for more than 20 years as pilgrim, student and tour guide, but most frequently as a loner plodding around on foot. For 35 years he was a parish priest in West Dorset and for much of that time he was active in the affairs of the Sudanese Church, on behalf of Salisbury Diocese. He was made a Canon of Salisbury Cathedral in 1981 and awarded an MBE in 2020. He now spends his retirement travelling, writing and worrying about English Cricket and Southampton football. He is married to Joan, an artist and teacher, who has helped illustrate most of his books.




Featured in Bible Lands, Summer 2021