Norman comes from a missionary heritage. His parents were medical missionaries in Nigeria. Ray met his wife in the Niger Republic while conducting field research for his doctoral thesis. The couple worked in Middle Eastern countries until Norman joined World Vision in 1999. He worked in Mauritania for World Vision as their national director. In a country where Christian presence is restricted and open witness prohibited, World Vision worked with the government to fight rampant poverty.
While Norman's wife was in France completing studies, he took their ten year old daughter, Hannah, to the beach. It was October 17, 2001. Their van was attacked by a lone gunman. Both the father and daughter were shot. They survived and this book tells the journey of the years that followed.
Norman is really honest about the lessons he learned from this experience. There was an immediate stress on their marriage. Many people did not know how to minister to the Norman family, including some of their closest Christian friends. They were unsure of how to follow God's will for their future. They decided to move to the United States in the summer of 2002.
Before leaving Mauritania, Norman made a public statement of forgiving the gunman and they were able to visit the man in prison, giving their forgiveness in person. He recounts the impact of that act in their area and how it opened doors.
Norman has given us a very interesting view of working for an NGO in a Muslim state during 2001 and the U. S. invasion of Afghanistan. He gives us insights into the attitude Muslims have toward Jesus and Christians. “Many Muslims regard Jesus as the prophet of love, and they readily expect true followers of Jesus to be people of love.” (47) Because of this, he notes that initial inroads into the hearts of Muslims are best made through life and actions, rather than preaching.
I appreciated the general account of his experiences, such as sending older children to boarding school. Norman also emphasizes the importance of listening to people and valuing them, regardless of their religion.
This is a good book that reveals how Christians can live in a society that is hostile to them. The only drawback to this story is that it occurred fourteen years ago. During that time, some areas have seen Muslim faith and practice change dramatically. I do recommend it to those who want to understand more of how Christians can live within a Muslim state.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Ray Norman was raised in rural West Africa, the son of medical missionaries. After completing his formal education, he worked in Africa and the Middle East for over fifteen years as a researcher and development specialist. In 1999 he joined World Vision International as the national director in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. He and his family returned to the United States so their children could complete their education. He served as dead of the School of Science, Engineering, and Health at Messiah College for twelve years while continuing to advise and consult with World Vision. He returned to World Vision in 2015 as director for Faith Leadership for their global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene programs. He and his wife have two grown children and spend their time between Grantham, Pennsylvania, and Bonningues-les-Ardres in northern France.
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 240 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Icon Media for the purpose of an independent and honest review