Geertje: War Seen Through the Eyes of A Child as an Adult
Gerda Blokhuis VandenHaak
Summary: Memories are a peculiar thing. They hurl us into a different world full of familiar smells, sounds and sights. Memories are sweet. Memories are bitter. All memories have a story to tell. In this book 78 year old Gerda shares her memories; memories of hunger, memories of sitting in a shack with Nazis and NSBers and memories of visiting a brothel in Cuba. She shares the painful memory of losing a precious daughter, and the joyful memory of adopting a little Indonesian boy. The dearest memory she shares are those final days she spent with her beloved Andy. All these experiences, all these memories shape an individual. They mold a character and shape an identity. Memories are proof of a life lived.
Gerda used poetry to process much of what she saw and experienced. Laced throughout this book in poetic format, the reader is given a glimpse of the inner turmoil that is present in every child of God as they struggle to make sense of earthly trials and the sovereignty of God. Gerda's poems accurately and beautifully reveal the anguish, heartache and questions of life intertwined with a depth of love and trust for her Lord.
Personal Thoughts: Gerda is a living, walking testimony of God's persevering grace in His children. Life has been hard for this child of God: war, fear, the irreparable devastation of the loss of a daughter, hunger, sickness, and finally the loss of a precious husband, lover, confidant and friend. The path to heaven is filled with difficulty. Following Christ wholeheartedly is not for the faint of heart.
Gerda and her husband visited Cuba 37 times to bring Bibles and encouragement to the churches. They visited Indonesia 3 times to set up a Christian school for (currently) over 1500 children. Gerda and her husband Andy lived a life of service to the Lord. Like Isaiah, they answered when Lord asked, 'Whom shall I send?"
Such a life of service! Oh, how difficult it was to read of cancer snatching Andy away. And so today Gerda continues the journey. The Lord alone knows when the final bend in the road will come into sight for His faithful child. And only He knows the work yet laid out to do for Gerda, His willing servant. The glory is His.
When in the morning, very early morning.
I walk outside.
Coffee in hand.
Early sunshine rays on my face.
I stand there.
Looking at the trees, at the lawn.
And see nothing.
For my eyes are turned inward.
Then tears come.
They run down my face and it surprises me.
On my hands.
On the deck.
Not tears of sadness.
But they fall.
Not tears of joy.
Tears of healing.
Tears of cleansing.
A peace, beyond understanding.
And I feel the hand of God.
The hand of God.
Great is Your Faithfulness.
In the Land of Blue Burqas
Kate McCord (pseudonym)
Summary: It's amazing what kind of discussions one can have over a cup of tea. In this book the author travels to Afghanistan to start a non-governmental organization with the goal of helping Afghan women. Over tea, our author slowly introduces the Honorable Jesus and His ways in real life situations that these Afghani women face every day. Combatting aggressive stereotyping against western ideas and promoting forgiveness, love care and generosity is a herculean task in a war torn country, full of pain, revenge, suppression, fear and tradition. But despite the odds, God is at work in the hearts of the Afghanistan people. Watch as faith begins to grow. Learn of Afghan tradition, worldview and culture. Recognize that God's love can shine anywhere. And it all starts over a cup of tea.
Personal Thoughts: The entire strength of this book lies in the last chapter--but you have to read the whole book to build a proper understanding and love for the Afghani people before you understand the punch line. Simple, quick answers are seldom the correct ones. Often we have much of our information wrong when it comes to understanding the people in the Middle East. We look at them and judge their hearts and circumstances through our western ideological glasses. If this book has taught me anything, it is that when people are willing to listen to one another, understanding and friendship can grow. If we can drop our biased opinions, don a burqa, learn the language and sit down with these people over a cup of tea, special conversations can take place. If we can learn the learn the Afghani's worldview, we can also learn how to share our biblical worldview in a way that might be effective. Afghanis have seen the practicality in biblical thinking. They are willing to listen. The gospel can be shared in the Middle East--all over a cup of tea.
Quote: "We foreign aid workers, doctors and educators who move into their communities shatter the stereotypes many Afghans have been taught to believe. We non-Muslims are supposed to be evil, and yet we cradle their dying children in our arms. We make arrangements for their sick to get medical care. We feed their widows and orphans. We give blankets against the cold, and in hundreds of other ways we demonstrate a different way to live. We tell a different story.
If, instead of loving my neighbours, I had brought lies, deceptions, corruption and immorality, I wouldn't have been considered a threat. I would have been held up as an example of what's evil and wrong in the world. But when I told Afghan Muslim people that God is good and God loves them, when I told them God forgives us and invites us to forgive others, when I told them God's kingdom was made for us and we were made for God's kingdom, and my stories resonated in their hearts, worldviews did change, attitudes shifted and new actions followed. --Pg. 302
Gianna: Aborted and Lived to Tell About It
Jessica Shaver Renshaw
Summary: One spring day, a frightened, pregnant young woman stepped off the bus and into a building with the caption Avalon Hospital above its doors. "It's the best thing. We know, We've walked in your shoes before," she was counselled. The young woman donned a gown and awaited her turn to see the doctor. In a few hours it was supposed to all be over. But the abortion failed. Instead, a tiny, premature little girl was born, wailing. Little Gianna has grown up and is a huge advocate for life. She attends pro-life rallies, counsels other young pregnant women, appears as a guest on talk shows and makes appearances in schools. The gospel is her primary message with a plea for the unborn coming secondary.
Personal Thoughts: The real clincher to this story occurs upon the revelation of the birth mom's complete story--one you don't get to read about until near the end. This is when Planned Parenthood is exposed as the heinous organization that it is. Aside from the unborn children, how many women's lives have been destroyed by the foundation of lies this company is built upon?
Quote: "I picture the Lord's strong hand always covering me and not letting me be harmed," Gianna said of her biological mother's abortion. "Her sin nearly killed me, but my sin did kill Jesus, and I've been forgiven on the cross, so I can forgive her also." --pg 189
Torches of Joy
John Dekker with Lois Neely
Summary: John Dekker and his wife Helen answer the Lord's call to bring God's Word to the Dani people of New Guinea. This primitive, stone age people who did not even possess a written language, were incredibly receptive to the Gospel, not only making great strides in spiritual maturity and embracing change, but becoming the forerunners in evangelizing the untouched tribes around them.
Personal Thoughts: This is a tremendous story about the power of the Gospel and of the work of the Holy Spirit overcoming language barriers, primitive conditions, illiteracy and superstition. In less than 20 years an untouched tribe becomes a leading force in evangelism, zeal burning in their hearts for the Lord Jesus! As you read you will love John's 'make work' projects. You will sympathize with Helen's struggles and respect the Dani's for giving up so many years of traditions in exchange for a hunger for the Truth.
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
Summary: Raised in the Muslim faith by kind, devoted, loving parents, Nabeel Qureshi is a true follower of Islam. He loved to defend his faith, search his Scriptures and meditate on his religion. But in the face of intense discussion and scrutiny, Nabeel starts to notice cracks in the foundation of his beloved core beliefs. What follows is an intense study and cry for TRUTH--the Bible in one hand, the Quran in the other. This book is a real page turner as Nabeel opens his thoughts and struggles to the reader in what is to be an intense battle for the soul.
Personal Thoughts: This book is real. It accurately portrays the great antithesis. It painfully reveals the shattered life of one's whose foundations have been completely destroyed--the terror, the questions, the loss of confidence, the abundance of chaos. It reveals the messiness of conversion, along with the ensuing trials and the carnage of broken relationships scattered about. Nabeel showed immense honor for his father and mother throughout this book. It was this respect and love for his parents that became the final and most intense struggle in leaving Islam. His decision devastated his family--causing a terribly painful, unfixable rift between them. It makes one consider the cost of truly following Christ.
Quote: "Please, Allah, may all this doubt not anger you...
But maybe You are showing me that the Quran is not your Word after all? So much of what I've been taught about it turned out to be false. I was taught that it has never been changed, but hadith and history show that it has. I was taught that it has supernatural knowledge of science and the future, but when I asked You to help me see it with my own eyes, I could find none. So much that I thought I knew about the Quran simply is not true. Is it really Your book? O Allah, have mercy on me.
Who are you?" --pg. 23
The Hiding Place
Corrie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherril
Summary: Corrie, Betsie and their father live in an old, unique house in Haarlem, Holland. They own and run a little watch shop in their home. As the Nazis increase the persecution of the Jews, the Ten Booms open their home to these oppressed people--even building a wall that creates a special hiding place for these Jews in case of a raid. The raid comes and the entire family goes to prison. Corrie and Betsie end up in a concentration camp in Germany. But even in the deepest darkness, God uses these two women to shine His light.
Personal Thoughts: It's hard to read this book without asking yourself how you would respond in these situations. These two women gave thanks in all circumstances. They brought the light of God and the hope of His Word wherever they went. It's a very moving account. There is an unparalleled depth found between these pages that is rare in books that possess this same setting.
Quote: “There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still.”
D. Martyn Lloyd Jones
Summary: This book is the first in a two part series on the life of this well known man--Martyn Lloyd Jones. Born and raised in Whales, follow Lloyd-Jones through a fascinating childhood, his rise to prominence in the medical world, his conviction and calling to the ministry and his first pulpit. Learn who this man was and what made him spectacular in his preaching, and yet humble and ordinary when he was off the pulpit. He didn't believe in pomp and show. He had no time or respect for extensive and elaborate church programs. He preached Christ and considered that most sufficient as the means to save sinners. And God's age-old method was proven most effective as, clearly, God richly blessed Martyn Lloyd-Jones' work.
Personal Thoughts: Wow. This is just excellent reading! There is so much depth, plenty of detail, and told in a way that doesn't make you want to exalt Lloyd-Jones, but rather rejoice in the gift God gave the church. Lloyd-Jones never wanted a book written about him--just as he never originally wanted his sermons put in print. Naturally, (and thankfully), he didn't get his way. Anyways, much can be said about this biography, but in short I can truly understand why this is the most well-loved, well known Christian biography in Reformed circles.
Quote: "Sometimes a few words from these men would reveal the depth of their feelings. When some years later, George Jenkins whose life was so radically changed lay dying in London, a former friend from Sandfields visited him. One of the old man's first enquiries was to ask for 'his beloved father in Christ,' and, he added, 'I would rather see him than Paul himself!' "
Summary: Have you heard of the two men who went to a small island, preached faithfully, sparked a revival and then had to flee for their lives because of the resulting persecution? Have you heard of the slave ship captain becoming a slave himself, only to be gripped by the gospel and become a preacher in his later years? Do you know of the man who felt burdened to free those Negroes who lived their lives as slaves--not by emancipating them, but by preaching the gospel to them? These men, (and many more), are true heroes. Learn their stories.
Personal Thoughts: I learned a lot by reading through this selection of mini-biographies of our true heroes. I found it interesting that in almost every one of these men's lives, each 'hero' at some point, was brought very low--either in circumstances or spirit. Each 'hero' was deeply burdened by his sins, before the Lord, by His Word and Spirit, raised him up for the great work appointed him. It really was an excellent read and many more pages and biographies could be added to this book.
Interesting Tidbits from each Biography:
Jonathan Edwards: "He preached with a candle in one hand and a manuscript in the other. It's a miracle people weren't bored to death!" --pg. 10
George Whitefield: He was looked down upon when he read the Puritans! --pg. 65
John Newton: "His house was an asylum for the perplexed or afflicted." --pg. 97
Thomas Charles: He was the minister who gave Mary Jones her Bible. --pg. 136
William Hewitson: Asked by Robert M'Cheyne to be his assistant. --pg 150
Robert Kalley: Before his conversion, he left seminary because..."I could not bear the thought of being obliged to preach that which I considered a pack of lies." --pg. 152
Charles Jones: "In November 1832 that Jones exchanged his pulpit in Savannah for the dirt floors of cotton houses, sheds, and makeshift plantation chapels." --pg 196
For a Testimony
Summary: The author, an American, is a missionary in Munchuria to the Korean people during the 1940's. As the Japanese take over the country during World War 2 and impose shrine worship, Bruce Hunt opts to stay with his congregation and suffer hardship, imprisonment and torture rather than return home to safety.
Personal Thoughts: I can really respect this man and his wife who counted it an honour to suffer alongside their Korean brethren. Oh that we would be ready to offer Christian testimony day in and day out even at the cost of our lives!
Killing Fields, Living Fields: Faith in Cambodia
Summary: Starting in the mid 1920's among simple rice farmers, here is a very thorough retelling of how the
church began, suffered and yet grew in Cambodia She had a wondrous 5 years where the church grew by leaps and bounds. In fact, baptisms were still being performed as the Khmer Rouge overtook the city. Sadly, the church barely survived the Khmer rouge onslaught and only 3 church pastors survived to build up But God is faithful and today the church is growing once again.
Personal Thoughts: I found a real love for the Cambodian people--Christians--in this book. Their zeal to make the gospel known to their own people is truly precious. The all encompassing scope of terror that gripped that country during the horrifying reign of the Khmer Rouge is startling. To think that only 3 church leaders remained in 1979 is heart wrenching.