Category Archives: awareness of the poor

Review of Under the Same Sky by Joseph Kim

 

I read this sad story after reading its review in World Magazine. A young man keeps on walking one day, a celebration day in North Korea, a day when the guards are not paying close attention. He walks so far that to go any further will lead him into China. His remaining family has been torn apart by the famine in North Korea, so he has no motivation to stay. But when he gets to China, the people who live in “rich homes” slam the door in his face. He only finds help after he listens to the advice to go to a building that has a cross on the top.

Joseph Kim is a strong survivor of an almost unbelievable tale. Little things that we take for granted here: namely food and freedom, are in high demand in the repressive regime that he defected from. Don’t read this book if you don’t want to know what the poor people of this world face daily while we live as kings and queens here in America, by comparison.

The subtitle is: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America and on the front cover is a bowl with only few grains of rice outside it. Most of the book involves Joseph’s upbringing in North Korea. He started off with a secure family and ended up a filthy migrant (called Kkotjebi) who stole in order to survive. We all know that it is wrong to steal, but maybe we would do the same thing if we were in his shoes? It is something I don’t really like to think about. The saddest part of the story for me is when he talks about his sister, Bong Sook. I hope he finds her and that she can come to America one day.

When Kim left North Korea, he was in culture shock. By the time he came to America, even more was he astonished at the comparison between our two countries. He suffered a time of depression after leaving everything he knew for a strange land where he lives alone, but has since recovered. Joseph Kim is a bright and hard working young man and a college student in New York City.

This book is not a happy read, but it gives a dose of reality into what it was like to grow up during the time of famine in North Korea. I hope  God uses Joseph Kim’s story to enlighten others as to the plight of those who live in the “Hermit Kingdom,” where lack is suffered daily and to be a Christian is to be a criminal worthy of death.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, copyright 2015

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Filed under awareness of the poor, Bible, family relationships, honoring your parents, memoir, non fiction

Review of Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow

Talk100_1293  about living in anxious times! Finding this wonderful book by this trusted Christian author was a real treat for me the other day. Many years ago, when I was a new wife and mother to be, a lady at our Bible Baptist church stood up at our young mother’s class and give a book review of another book by Linda Dillow. (That one was called Creative Counterpart,and it was my first taste of the concept of the wife’s role of godly submission to her husband.) Since then, I have been blessed to know other godly ladies who have helped teach me my Biblical role as wife and mother, and I view Mrs. Dillow as one of the pioneers of the movement.

Linda Dillow is a mother, a grandmother, the wife of a theologian (Dr. Jody Dillow- Grace School of Theology) and missionary who spent time behind the Iron Curtain with her husband and family when Communism was still the mode of government in Poland and Romania. She and her family risked their lives to teach people who had so little by American standards. But in many ways they were richer than us, because they knew that all they needed was Jesus.

I am guessing Linda Dillow wrote this book because she knew of our tendency as women to worry. If you know me, one of my biggest challenges in life is overcoming my tendency to worry and become anxious about things. The one thing about worry is that once you give in to one thing it seems to give way to five more things to worry and fret about. It can debilitate your entire life. It has mine at times in the past. That is why I am so glad that Scripture tells us in Philippians 4 that we don’t have to worry about even one thing. But the only way we can do that is if we get to know our God and how trustworthy and reliable He is, and bring every worry and concern to Him constantly.

This book gives practical encouragement from her own life and how God got her through many dangerous and tremendous trials with her children and facing dangers as a missionary, tests with misunderstandings with others, staying underground from the Communist government while ministering in Eastern Europe, etc. As I read the book, I felt like she was a friend chatting with me from her heart to mine. The book includes practical suggestions for dealing with “what if” thoughts and “if only” thoughts. Those are just the kind of thoughts that get me caught in the worry game.

My copy was originally published in 1998 but updated in 2007. There are 12 chapters in the book and at the end is a study guide that could be used for a small group of women. One thing I really liked about each chapter: at the conclusion of each she gave a character sketch of different women she met while ministering through the years. Some of these women’s testimonies were amazing.

For example, Mrs. Dillow described a woman named Eva from Communist Poland. This Christian woman was used to living practically as a gypsy with nothing wandering from place to place for years. She even washed her baby daughter’s diapers by hand. One day, she came to visit the missionary at her apartment and refused to use her modern conveniences when she did so. Eva said that Western women have “so many things that they don’t need God.” (page 84, Calm My Anxious Heart)

I felt deeply convicted after reading that. How easy to forget Him when we have everything. But through the trials we go through, He draws us back to Himself. This book offers wise counsel from an older woman to a younger woman (as in the verses in Titus 2:3-5) on how to grow close to God when situations come that tempt our hearts and minds to become anxious.

I highly recommend this book for women of all ages.

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Filed under awareness of the poor, Bible, Bible instruction, family relationships, grandmothers, missionaries, mothers, overcoming worry, Titus 2:3-5

George Mueller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith by A. T. Pierson

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If you want a challenge in your faith walk, I recommend reading the biography of a remarkable man, Mr. George Mueller, the founder of homes that housed thousands of orphans in the 1800s in Bristol, England. This book gives a detailed look at the life of Mr. Mueller from one who was greatly influenced by Mueller in his spiritual life. This pastor from America, Arthur. T. Pierson, was a personal friend of George Mueller.

The story is outstanding not because of George Mueller in and of himself, but that he proved in his life and ministry that God was a prayer hearing and answering God. He sought first of all that God might be glorified in answering his fervent prayers for the many needs of his ministry. In fact, everything Mueller accomplished for his ministry (which grew steadily from humble beginnings) was not from going to people as a source but instead was accomplished through fervent prayer.

Mueller chose never to broadcast a need for his orphanages to anyone, however, but only to God. Even all his helpers were not allowed to broadcast any need, but only to petition heaven for their needs. How different this is than the approach used today with ministries having telethons and begging for money. Many times Mueller, his wife and his helpers were sorely tested and lived in poverty themselves as they gave just about everything they had for the sake of the work. Reading these testimonies, it really put me to shame, to be honest. These workers sold all they had for the sake of the work and did not count their lives dear unto themselves,just like the Apostle Paul said of himself in the book of Acts.

After a youth filled with thievery and rebellion, George Mueller became a believer while studying Divinity at the University of Halle, without any interest in God. A friend invited him to a Bible study and the sight of people praying on their knees that night drew Mueller into seeking his own personal relationship with Christ. He functioned as a pastor for over sixty years. In his retirement years, he took on an evangelistic outreach that took him all over the world. Yet his principles remained the same: the needs were always placed before God and God alone to provide. Mueller kept a Narrative of the Lord’s dealings with him, after being influenced reading the autobiographical narrative of the Lord’s dealings with John Newton, a pastor he admired, who is famous for writing the hymn Amazing Grace. In Mueller’s own narrative, great detail is given to showing how the Lord answered specific prayers in His own timing, and by reading about the details of this Narrative, it imparted great incentive for me to continue in my prayers like the persistent widow in Luke 18. George Mueller prayed for two people’s conversions for over 60 years, and even did not see the answer before his death, but stated: “I have not a doubt that I shall meet them both in heaven; for my Heavenly Father would not lay upon my heart a burden of prayer for them for over threescore years, if He had not concerning them purposes of mercy.” (page 302)

Another important takeaway from this biography is to learn George Mueller’s Bible reading habit and of making himself happy in the Lord as the first order of each day. What a beautiful idea, to start each day making sure that one is happy and content in their relationship with Christ as the most important thing. He read the Bible through two hundred times during his lifetime.

This book is long, 375 pages, but is edifying and worth the read. I should not compare myself to George Mueller, for Scripture says that is unwise, and I fall way short. But, I can glean great encouragement to petition God like George Mueller did, for Mr. Pierson stated:

“While men are asking whether prayer can accomplish similar wonders as of old, here is a man who answers the question by the indisputable logic of facts. Powerlesssnes always means prayerlessness, It is not necessary for us to be sinlessly perfect … but it is necessary that we be men and women of prayer–habitual, believing, importunate prayer.” (pages 371-372)

George Mueller lived like the faith heroes of Hebrews 11, therefore his faith and life of prayer is worth imitating today.

This book was published by Kregel Publications in 1999.

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Filed under awareness of the poor, Bible, Bible instruction, character-building books, heroes of the faith, homeschooling, missionaries, simplicity, Uncategorized

An Oldie but a Goodie- More with Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre

100_0047If I could tell of one cookbook I leaned on more than any other during the years when I was raising my family, it was this simple cookbook, published by a Mennonite woman back in 1976. This simple spiral bound cookbook was a great friend to me as I searched for nutritious, and compassionate recipes thoughtful of others in third world countries. Mennonite women sent the recipes to the author.
Doris told of how Americans use so much sugar. She gave the statistic that Americans ate 120 lbs. of sugar and refined sweeteners yearly. And this was nearly forty years ago! I wonder how much more it is now. She made me think about poorer countries. Doris suggested having one meal weekly as a “meager meal” so that we who had plenty would be mindful of those who did not. (A meal like beans and rice would qualify as a meager meal.) This also helps children to learn that not everyone in this world goes to bed with a full belly each night, so it is a great teaching tool.
My kids loved the recipes, and some have become family traditions: Honey Baked Lentils (on page 106), Vietnam Fried Rice (p. 130), Basic Corn Bread (p. 78) and Tangy Tuna Mac (p. 123). In the recipes, Doris was mindful not to overdo it on meat or sugar.
At the end of each chapter of recipes, she featured a “Gather Up the Fragments” section which told of handy ways to use up leftovers, so that excess food would not go to waste. Also there are handy recipes for home-made granolas, soap, play paste for children, all kinds of handy little information for saving money and being frugal.
You can probably guess that my copy is pretty tattered by now, and it has a little love note from my daughter on one of the recipe pages. When I was a young bride, another young bride who happened to be a classmate of mine at nursing school, told me how much she loved this wonderful recipe book. So, even though it is old, I am sharing it now with you. If you read this book with its handy info, you will save money and hopefully restore a sense of serenity to our crazy, overburdened lives.
One last disclaimer: Doris gives recipes for soy and talks about it being a good protein replacement. However, there is some controversy with soy, estrogen and breast cancer, so do your own research on that.

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Filed under awareness of the poor, Bible, cookbooks, homeschooling, money-saving, parenting, simplicity, Uncategorized