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Book Review: ‘Journey of Hope’ by Jean Gibson

May 12, 2013
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Journey of HopeI wonder if you’ve ever read a book which makes you want to contact the author and just thank them for writing it?! Well, I’ve just finished one of those books and the author has a website which meant I could send her an email and thank her for sharing her experiences and insight.  The book I am talking about isn’t a famous classic, it’s probably one you’ve never heard of it; I certainly hadn’t heard of it until Mike gave me it for Christmas. It’s not about someone famous, it’s about a Christian lady, called Jean Gibson, who journeyed through Africa and shares the stories of various people she met.

The book tells the stories of eleven different people who Jean met on her travels, each of whom have a different story of their lives in Africa; each has faced challenges and encountered God in their lives and through the difficulties they face.  Here’s part of the email I sent to Jean Gibson, to give you a flavour of my thoughts about the book;

Hi Jean,

I found your book ‘Journey of Hope’ a real eye-opener and an encouragement! Thank you! What an amazing journey you have had!

I find that it can be so easy to forget the conditions that people live in, and the issues they face, in the rest of the world when we have secure and comfortable lives in our own countries. I thought that your epilogue was really apt, in sharing how the differences become less sharp over time, as you adjusted back to life away from Africa. How true this can be when we are struck by a characteristic of God or of some great need; sadly the joy or the urgent desire to act to help can fade as we become absorbed in the details of our lives, which are in front of us.

I was particularly struck by the work that was done to help young girls who are facing female circumcision and then arranged marriage in their early teens; I cannot imagine how scared those poor girls must be. It is such an encouragement, however, to read of the presence that Christians have in that situation and how they are known for being those who will protect and help young girls who are facing such prospects against their will. The work they do is amazing and so valuable and such a brilliant way of sharing Christ’s love and showing His character in that situation.

As you may have sensed from the example I cited from the book, of female circumcision, it isn’t a happy-go-lucky light read, but it is realistic in showing what life in Africa is like and some of the very real challenges people are faced with (including HIV, polygamy, abuse, lack of education, teenage marriage etc) and despite the serious subject matter, or maybe because of it, the hope that the individuals have found in God, and the practical ways He has helped in so many situations, just shine through.

So, in summary, it is well worth a read, whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, simply because the insight into life in another part of our vast world is valuable in itself and hearing personal stories provides such an insight. I am thankful that Jean wrote ‘Journey of Hope’ and that I got to read it and I hope that this might encourage others to read it too. Plus, I received a lovely reply from the author herself, which was an added bonus!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 13, 2013 1:40 pm

    Sounds like a great book! I read an autobiography from Radhanath Swami recently, The Journey Home, which I found inspiring. He described his journey towards truth and all of the places it took him-both geographically and spiritually. Right now I’m reading Richard Dawkins’ book, The Ancestor’s Tale, and I find it inspiring in a different way. It makes me appreciate the complexity and sheer wonder of the natural world.

    Great post. 🙂

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