Living for Shalom

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Ross Langmead (1949 – 2013) will be remembered as one of Australia’s leading missiologists, having been involved as a young man in the founding Westgate Baptist Community after writing a report on the struggling churches in the west of Melbourne. His distinguished academic and teaching career opened the way for him to join the faculty at Whitley Theological College until his sudden death in 2013. He will also be remembered for his seventies folk gospel group, ‘Daddy’s Friends’ and the songs of love and justice he wrote over 45 years that are still sung today. Many would say that music was his soul language.

This biography traces his childhood in a Salvation Army missionary family and the influences that shaped his passion for sharing Jesus with the urban poor and disadvantaged. He was a key player in the radical discipleship movement; his understanding of incarnational mission was that Christians need to be the people of God just where they are. A keen runner and cyclist, he was the first diabetic to complete the Melbourne Marathon. Above all, he lived simply that others might simply live, his passion extending to ecomissiology, support for the indigenous and refugees. He would want this book to inspire readers to make a difference in the world.

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I’m not sure I have read the bio of a close personal friend and colleague before. I approached it with some trepidation. There is still some grief and my memories of Ross are precious so I didn’t want them to be tarnished. They weren’t. It is a beautifully written story of a very good person who lived life with integrity and faith. it was enhanced because Ross journaled like nobody else I know. He also wrote beautiful songs so a good part of the story is in his own words. if you want to know how a Christian life can be lived, with all its struggles. this is a good place to start. 

Alan Marr, Director of Ministries at Baptist Union of Victoria

You have not just captured and honoured Ross but written a biography for the ages! Congratulations! I admired Ross Langmead hugely and this biography captures the Ross I knew. He inspired people to feel good about doing good. An hour in his presence always made me want to be a better person. Yes, in this sense he was for me literally saint-like . An hour listening to him teach gave me stunning clarity about things that were formerly labyrinthine and complex. Thanks to this book I understand why. He was a polymath – so multidimensional – a brilliant mathematician, musician, theologian, poet and advocate. But it was the integrity and humility in the way he lived that really impacted me. His early and sudden demise left was a huge loss. Thank you Jeanette for the depth and insight in this book. It is a fine tribute.

Tim Costello, former CEO and Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia 

This is an affectionate, inspiring and fluently written account of the life of Ross Langmead, a dedicated and infectious teacher and leader who turned many things upside down. It’s also a striking witness to the redemptive power of the love song that moves the earth towards healing, reconciliation and wholeness. Very few people could have written this book. That Jeanette Woods has done so has helped us to see – see more and more – what we have loved in and learned from this good mate of a carpenter’s son.

Jason Goroncy, Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology, Whitley College, University of Divinity