Tuesday, April 8, 2014

For Such a Time: A Review

I love Historical Fiction novels.  I am especially drawn to novels that cover Hitler's regime, the
Holocaust, and the events that followed.  Kate Breslin's new novel, "For Such a Time," is probably one of the best books I have read on this subject in the Historical Fiction genre.  Not only was it superbly engaging (I finished it in less than 12 hours), but it contained a very unique storyline.  Ms. Breslin forged a lovely story filled with forgiveness, mercy, redemption, and miracles.  It is a truly captivating tale, and one that is very well written.

I really enjoyed the flashback aspect of this book.  While we are able to get to know each main character better in the present, we were also given a glimpse of their pasts, and how that past shaped the character and decisions of each.  Another terrific element of this book was its modern parallel to the book of Esther.  How many Esther's, I wonder, did God call forth during that horrific period of history? 

While the reader does get to experience some of the atrocities of life in the Ghetto for the Jewish people, it also gets a glimpse of the horrible treatment of children, the evil mindsets of the regime itself and how they viewed the Jewish people, and what life was like working for one of these soldiers.  The range of characters representing each of these were quite dimensional as well.  It well-represented the many soldiers that found their moral obligation in complete conflict with the evils they were commanded to carry out.  It reveals to us the depravity to which the accuser and the accused find themselves in, and it also reveals just how much a person is willing to sacrifice for goodness and love. 

The ending was such a pleasure to read!  I cheered.  Out loud.  It also called into account the fact that though many soldiers and civilians of Nazi Germany worked covertly to save many Jewish lives, they were still held accountable for the actions of Hitler.  I am saddened when I realize how many lives were completely ruined--they were all victims, really.  Victims of hate, cowardice, pure evil.  Yet, as we hear, there are so many stories of love, forgiveness, mercy, and redemption.  I commend the author for drawing from each.  A life is destroyed when it is taught to hate and murder, a life is destroyed at the hands of those murderers, and a life is destroyed when they must observe the atrocities surrounding them.  I would encourage everyone to read this novel.  There truly is a lesson for us all to learn.  Love our enemies.  Bless those who curse us.  Do good to those who hurt us.  Love as Jesus loved.  Beautiful story and a pleasure to review. 

Mission Drift: A Review

I recently received a review copy from Bethany House for the book, "Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crises facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches" by Peter Greer and Chris Horst.  Although I'm not a
Pastor or church leader, this shift has bothered me for sometime, and I decided it would be an excellent book to read and review.  I also think it is an important read if you support any Christian charity as it provides a way to hold the organization(s) accountable to which you are financially supporting.  Before I dive in with a few comments, I would like to also add that my reading this book was timely in light of the decision/recall decision concerning World Vision.  I noticed on the back jacket that Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, read an advance copy.  I wonder if the content had been better utilized, they could have avoided the mess they recently found themselves in. 

I really enjoyed the format of this book.  Though it seems more geared toward leadership, it was easy for a layperson to read and learn from.  The examples, both of solid organizational commitments and eventual mission drift, were very interesting as I had not previously been aware of the history of many charity organizations in our country.  I really enjoyed learning about how many of them came to be, but I was also deeply saddened to read how the initial vision and set of core values was forgotten or simply discarded for the sake of compromise.  I also thought it very helpful that the authors included a Mission Drift Survey in order to help identify potential issues and problems. They also offered very helpful solutions for overcoming those issues and safeguard against future problems.

Although it was disheartening to read stories in which charities were completely secularized and lost focus, it was also very encouraging to read the number of ways big charities, such as Compassion International, are safeguarding the integrity of their ministry and charities.  We all need to read this book, whether or not we are a leader, for it effects us each individually.  We must learn how to stand firm in a time of such hostility towards faith and faith-based charities, and in a time in which the world so desperately needs that which a solid faith-based/driven charity can provide.  If you want to learn about how to safeguard your church/charity/organization from falling away from its most important core values, how to implement those changes within, and how to stay committed for the long haul, this is the book you need to read.  In fact, get one for yourself AND for the Pastor in your church.  Excellent read, and I highly recommend it.