Monday, May 20, 2013
We've all probably heard the stories of missionaries who abandoned everything to follow Christ in a foreign land, of those who were willing to give up the comforts of convenience for the sake of proclaiming Christ in unknown communities. Hilary Alan's story, told in her recent book titled Sent, is very similar, but with a more modern and in-depth look not just at the journey she took to serve overseas in Southeast Asia, but at the process involved in embarking upon such a task. And in telling her story, she reveals many issues that may confront all of us as we attempt to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, wherever he may send us.
The Alan family (Hilary, her husband Curt and their two children) were living a successful, upper middle class, suburban life in North Carolina when God began to stir their hearts for something more than what they were experiencing. Through a series of events that occurred in conjunction with the most devastating tsunami in history in Southeast Asia, the family believed that God was sending them to an unknown land in that region of the world to assist with rebuilding the community and to reach out to those who were not familiar with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the book, the author effectively conveys the emotional, physical, and spiritual challenges that faced their family in obeying God to leave their home, jobs, family and friends to go to a place that was a Muslim region, governed by Sharia law, where white westerners, particularly women were not looked upon favorably. She includes the stories of selling everything, of the reactions of their friends and family and the struggles of living without modern conveniences like washers, dryers and other items that we might take for granted that we own. From daily sweeping her dirt floors, to wearing head coverings when entering public places, there is a variety of subjects addressed in Sent.
Particularly interesting were the accounts of their son and daughter, both of whom were school age when their family decided to move. The pressures the children faced were strong, but she paints a beautiful picture of the grace of God that helped them in the transition also. She also shares stories of some of the people she became close to and the frustrations of living in a culture that doesn't always do things the way we might think they should, sometimes with devastating consequences for those involved. She ends the book by showing how they journeyed back to the United States, but returned much different than when they originally left.
I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. I found the book to be a little long, but some of you may find all of the detail to be quite revealing as you delve into the story. You may read an excerpt at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/pdf/SneakPeek_Sent.pdf
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I like biographies, particularly those about people whom I know from their achievements. But, like many, my time does not always permit me the freedom to read every biography. So when I encountered the book "Seven Men:And the Secret of Their Greatness" by author Eric Metaxas, I was very glad to learn the contents of the pages, and was even more glad after I finished reading it. The author has done a spectacular job of writing the shortened biographies of seven great men in history, and what made them worthy of remembering to all of us.
Eric Metaxas is a writer who used to work under Charles Colson at Prison Fellowship ministries and who currently still works with the "Breakpoint" radio program that Colson led for years. So, it was no surprise to find Charles Colson on the list of the seven great men whose lives the author chose to review. He has authored two previous full length biographies, one about William Wilberforce and the other about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, both whose capsulized stories are included in his newest contribution. But, those that I have described already are just three of the figures you'll be happy to read about in this fascinating book. The other heroes he mentions are equally worth paying attention to as you study.
Whether it is heart breaking abuse Jackie Robinson endured as the first African American baseball player, or the courage of William Wilberforce to abolish slavery from his own country, the stories will lead on a journey through the lives of those whose influence can be felt still, even many years after their death. I was particularly moved to tears when I read the story of Eric Liddell, who is best known for his Olympic feats and for his resistance to run on a Sunday (featured in the film 'Chariots of Fire'). But, the story of the rest of his life after the Olympics, including the sacrifices he made as a Christian missionary to China, is what sets him apart form others in history. I found his example truly Christ-like and an inspiration to us all.
You may not agree with all of those whom the author has chosen to write about in this book. But, I do believe you'll have to agree after reading it that all of them achieved great things, often against terrible odds and opposition. They are all worthy of our respect and we can learn much from the legacy that they leave behind for all of us to follow. This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com. I think you will agree after reviewing it that it was both an educational and inspiring book.