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
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
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
A Pastor's Sketches
Summary: Referred to the Bunyan of Brooklyn, Ichabod Spencer was a master at conversing with souls. Averaging 800 visits a year for the 25 years he was a pastor is incredible, but the fact that he meticulously made notes on each of these visits is nothing short of amazing. And that is primarily what makes up this book. It is a book filled with conversations between a pastor and unconverted sinners. He tears down every obstacle people erect to keep themselves from God. He allows no excuse for delaying repentance. He lovingly pursues his flock, caring deeply for their souls.
Personal Thoughts: Oh, I WISH I could get more people to read this book! I enjoy it so much. Conversion is most fascinating. I have learned so much about the human heart in these chapters. I have learned much about the work of Satan. I have found similar obstacles in these stories that I too have had to overcome in my spiritual life. This book gives the reader a very solemn view of the soul. It is indeed able to be lost forever and that is a grave matter we think little about.
Chapter 8: Reliance on Man
As I was leaving the place of a morning prayer- meeting, which was attended, in a time of revival,
very early in the morning; a young man about sixteen years of age came to me, and asked permission to accompany me home ; for " he wanted to talk with me."
" What do you wish to say to me ?" said I.
" Why — I want you to tell me what to do."
" I have told you, again and again. I can tell you nothing different — nothing new. You must repent, if you would be saved. You must give up your self-righteousness and flee to Christ. The Law condemns you. The sovereign grace of God only can save you. You must give up your miserable and long-continued attempts to save yourself. You must give God your heart, as he requires, and as I have explained to you already, many times."
" Yes, I know that ; but I am so distressed ! I cannot live so ! I want you to tell me some- thing else."
" I cannot relieve your distress. Christ alone can give you rest. I have nothing else to tell you. I have told you all
the truth — all you need to know."
" I thought," said he, "Perhaps you could say something, that would help me ; if I went to your house."
" So you have said to me more than once, and I have told you better. God only can help you. You must rely on him."
" But I should like to talk with you again about my feelings, in your study."
" It would do you no good. You have nothing to say, that you have not said before ; and I have nothing new to say to you."
" Well — may I go home with you ?"
" No. Go home. Man cannot help you. The whole matter lies betwixt yourself and God."
He turned away, the most downcast creature I ever saw. It seemed as if his last prop was gone. He walked as if his limbs could scarcely carry him.
I had not been at home an hour, before he came to tell me, that his burden was gone. He said, that after I " had cast
him off," all hope forsook him, and he " had nowhere else to go but to God." Before he reached his home, (about a mile,) he had given all into the hands of God ; and he felt so much relieved of his burden of sin and fear, that he thought he " would turn right about, and come right back and tell me." —
But," said he, "I do not believe I should have gone to God, if you had not cast me off."
Under the Scaffold
Summary: It's the mid 1700's in Yorkshire. The average life expectancy is 26. Most of the people living in Haworth are uneducated and poor. In this setting we meet Tom, a young boy growing up on the moors. The preacher who comes to work among them is no other than William Grimshaw. He shepherds his flock in interesting ways, but there can be absolutely no doubt about his deep love for their souls. Follow Tom in all his boyish mischief, and learn about life in these unexpected times.
Personal Thoughts: We have such a good life. 46% of our children do not die before the age of 7. We don't struggle for food everyday. Small pox and cholera do not threaten our lives every year again. It is not common for us to bury mothers and fathers and siblings on a regular basis. Life was uncertain in the 1700's. These preachers knew their task well and could not waste time or words for death was constantly knocking on their parishioner's doors. As a result, these people thought about eternity constantly--even the little ones did. I wish the same could be said of today.
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.
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Summary: A woman tells her journey from being a post modern feminist lesbian to a Reformed, homeschooling, Christian mom. As a professor and popular speaker for gay activists, the ripples that this change caused were enormous. She proves how 'messy' conversion was for her--her entire identity was overhauled. But she continued to read, she wrestled and she believed. As a result she is deeply convinced of Reformed theology. Praise be to God!
Personal Thoughts: This book puts the onus on Christians. When we pray for the lost do we really know what this means? Are we willing to shed our cloaks of self righteousness to walk beside the lost? Do we really believe that the blood of Christ is the same required atonement for all?