Williams shares her own story of infidelity, divorce and a very dark time. Counseling and a short term mission trip changed her life. She went to war torn Congo with ALARM to help lead a trauma care conference for recently displaced war survivors. She saw so many orphans and women who had survived rape. She saw their resilience.
She knew she had to do something. But the problem was so big – what could one person do? She did some investigation and found that little was being done to help children find emotional restoration. She knew healing had to be brought to those children before they grew up to be traumatized adults. Also spending time in Sudan and Uganda, she realized that lasting healing required long term rehabilitation programs. She developed Hope Initiative, weekly meetings designed to be led by local African leaders.
Friends asked how they could help and with the aid of a few dedicated and tireles teammates, Exile International was born. People began to get involved. She began to speak out. In addition to working in Africa, she also helped restore children in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010.
I was amazed to find out more people have died in the Congo war since 1996 than all of Word War II (more than five million). Reading the stories of these children is heart breaking. No child should have to experience what they have. The rebels try to kill the spirit of the children. They certainly need restoration. I can also see why she expanded her ministry to include sponsorship of children so they can have an education and continued care.
Williams' story is incredible. Even though she still battles depression and anxiety from time to time, she concentrates on helping others. The survivors of trauma that she saw in the war torn African countries taught her much about resilience and gratitude for life. Many of us might blame God when we experience heartbreak and trauma. We might want to remain in our hurt. Williams' survival of her own trauma ignited a passion to fight for justice and bring healing to child survivors of war. (154)
Hers is an encouraging story. She has included excerpts from her journal throughout the book. They are moving. Coming through clearly in this book are several messages. As Williams realized, each of us is “a walking testimony to His redemption.” (298). Our greatest heartache can be turned into our greatest ministry. We can find strength in our weakness and joy in our suffering.
We can do more, finding our voice, finding our purpose. Some things are worth sacrificing for, worth the possibility of getting sick, worth the time and effort.
This book will capture you. It is amazing.
You can find out more about her ministry at www.exileinternational.org. You can watch a book trailer here.
Bethany Haley Williams is the founder and executive director of Exile International, an organization that exists to restore Africa's former child soldiers and children orphaned by war. With a PhD in counseling psychology and a master's in clinical social work, she is a leader in the specialized field of war-affected children rehabilitation. With more than twenty years of experience in the field, she maintains a small counseling and coaching practice. She and her husband reside in Nashville, Tennessee, and lead the work of Exile International together. You can find out more at www.exileinternational.org, www.bethanyhaley.blogspot.com, and www.bethanyhaleywilliams.com.
Howard Books, 330 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.