Phoenix has crafted a novel revealing the dark side of missionary work. Sometimes couples in the mission field struggle with hurts and discouragement. Often their children suffer as well.
We are taken through the romance and marriage of Sam and Lauren. Sam has dreams of doing mission work but settles for a normal life – for ten years. They have a child, Ryan. Then Sam meets a man doing mission work in Nepal. Sam is all set to go and do what he feels God has called him to. Lauren is not so excited about the move and their nine year old son not at all.
Phoenix relates the family's experience in Nepal with flash backs as to how they got there. Sam is totally committed to his work and is gone into the hills weeks at a time. Lauren is teaching so they can have visas, but she is lonely and connects with an old male friend online. Ryan is not doing well at all as a teen in Nepal. When disaster strikes in the family, the feelings bubbling under the surface boil over.
Phoenix says in an afterward her hope is that this novel is a cautionary tale, shedding light on missionary kids who struggle. She has certainly given us a revealing picture of a struggling missionary family.
There are other thought provoking issues in this novel besides the one dealing with how parental decisions affect their children. Sam was convinced God had called him to this mission work and that everything would be fine for his family. “God wouldn't call us to something that would harm us,” he declares. Yet much harm does result. Would God call a man to a ministry that harmed his family?
I had difficulty liking any of the major characters in the novel. At times I felt that they themselves were the source of much of their problems. I did not like Sam at all. Two of my sisters were missionaries and raised their families in the Middle East. I know that the difficulties portrayed in this novel are not the experience of all missionary families. Some end up with well adjusted wonderful children.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. You can find other reviews here.
Michele Phoenix is a consultant, writer, and speaker with a heart for missionary kids. She taught at Black Forest Academy (Germany) for twenty years before launching her own advocacy adventure under Global Outreach Missions. You can find out more at www.michelephoenix.com.
Thomas Nelson, 336 pages. You can purchase a copy here.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse. My comments are an independent and honest review.