Book Review: Hope Rising

Hope Rising

For some this is a controversial and provocative position. Good! I want to provoke a debate because that would be healthy. It’s the indifference to the question that is killing us.

This quote sums up the entire book pretty well. Scott C. Todd, Senior Vice President for Global Advocacy at Compassion International, uses this book to propose that extreme poverty can be eradicated within this generation. He points to statistics showing a 50% decrease in extreme poverty over the past generation. He addresses the assumption that the poor will always be with us. He argues that this statement made by Jesus in Matthew 26:11 was addressed specifically to Judas to rebuke him for his misplaced priorities and was never meant to indicate that poverty is an insurmountable problem.

Hope Rising is definitely a provocative book. It’s not one I would recommend sitting down and accepting without a lot of thought. It is meant to be thought about and wrestled with. I came to the conclusion that the author has many valid points about the potential of eradicating poverty, but I think he has an overly optimistic view on the goodwill of humanity in general. However, it’s very true that the church today has some incredible untapped potential. For example, did you know that 94% of money given in churches is spent within the church rather than being turned outward to help the poor and spread the gospel? Imagine the impact that could be had if even a fraction of that money was re-prioritized. I have a feeling I’ll be wrestling with the message of this book for quite a while.

NOTE: BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.


Book Review: KnowOrphans

KnowOrphansIn order to help orphans, we must know orphans. That’s the premise author Rick Morton builds on in his new book, KnowOrphans. How are we supposed to know orphans. How can we as individuals and as a church reach out to vulnerable children? How are we supposed to navigate the complications and turmoil surrounding orphan care and adoption?

This book is written as a guide for how to understand and mobilize towards knowing and helping orphans. It covers a wide range of topics. Almost too wide. I felt the book lacked some of the focus needed to make it live up to its full potential. It probably isn’t a great “beginning” book to read on the subject. However, if you already have enough of a foundational understanding to keep up with the switches between discussing. individual possibilities, church responsibility, parachurch ministries, and adoption this is a good book to use as a brainstorming springboard. I especially appreciated the chapter discussing some of the criticisms the Christian orphan-care and adoption movement has been receiving. While this book was a little hard to get through the first time, I’m sure I’ll be referring back to it over and over again.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for a review reflecting my honest perspective on the book.

Book Review: Becoming Home

Becoming HomeShort and sweet, Becoming Home is another fantastic book about orphan care. This booklet is just under 100 pages long. It’s the perfect way to get a well-rounded introduction to the topic without investing a ton of time. It’s also no waste of time, even if you’ve already read many books on the subject.

The booklet starts out with some great color graphs with stats about the need, public opinion on Christians working with orphans, and a lot more. It then moves on to talk about the way God calls us to be involved in this area, how to get involved, attitudes about adoption, and the way orphan care transforms people. Some of the stories are powerful.

I found out about Becoming Home through an email from CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) so I expected it to be at least decent but had no idea what to really expect. I’m so glad I got my copy. It will certainly come in handy. I may even find myself buying extra copies to give away.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions stated are my own.

Borrow A Kindle Book: Silent Tears

Silent Tears Step through the doors of a Chinese orphanage. When Kay Bratt’s husband accepted a promotion that required him and his family to relocate to China, Kay took the opportunity to fulfill her dream of living a meaningful life. She had no idea of the ways her life would change. Her volunteer work in the orphanage opened her eyes to the desperate need and horrifying neglect suffered by China’s abandoned children. It became her mission to brighten the lives of these little ones and give them hope.

I just finished reading this last night, and found myself processing and digesting a whole new batch of realities. It’s a powerful book.

Here’s the deal on borrowing the book. Amazon allows some Kindle books to be lent out. It’s a one time thing and the loan lasts for fourteen days. So, if you’ll have time to read a 333 page book in the next fourteen days, please enter! You don’t have to own a Kindle in order to read the book. Amazon offers a free “app” you can download to your computer. I have it on my computer and it works fine. Follow the links to get the kindle reader for Windows 7, XP, & Vista, Windows 8, or Mac.

Most giveaways are done by random draw, but I’m going to mix it up a bit. I want this book to go to someone who cares about reading it and will learn from it. So, leave a comment telling me why you want to read Silent Tears, and I’ll loan the book to whoever gives the most convincing reason (or at least the reason I find most convincing). I apologize I can’t lend the book to all of you, but don’t give up if I don’t lend you this one. I hope to do this again!

The opportunity to enter this giveaway ends on March 25th.

Don’t forget to leave a comment explaining why you want to read this book. Please tell your friends about this giveaway!

Book Review: No Greater Love

No Greater Love

We felt overwhelmed, trying our best to understand how someone could love a child–dearly love a child, just as we did our own–and then decide to kill that child because of fear.

With his real-estate business crumbling around him, Levi Benkert receives a phone call. An old friend wants him to travel to Ethiopia to aid an effort to rescue children who’ve been sentenced to death by an ancient tribal practice. The idea is ludicrous. There’s no way he can go. Yet Levi soon finds himself on a plane bound for Ethiopia. It’s the beginning of a change that will dominate, change, and revolutionize life for him and his family.

I got this book for Christmas and the whole family got a laugh when I unwrapped it. I already knew what it was about, but I flipped it over to skim the back cover. As I did so, my mom said, “It’s a really good book. You need to let me borrow it because I’m half way through it.” That’s right. She’d been reading my gift before wrapping it! 😛 Anyway, she was right. I read it in one sitting. It’s heartbreaking. It doesn’t have a strings all tied up “happy ending”. (The ending is happy, but only after a heart rending close to the first part of the Benkert’s journey.)

One of the things Levi says in this book is that orphan care is inherently messy. This becomes obvious just reading books about it. It gets confusing. The last book I read about orphan care, Orphan Justice (great book!), really stressed how important it is for kids to be in real families…that orphanages aren’t the solution. This book shed light on how messy international adoption can be. Another documentary I watched shared the tremendous need for international adoption. It’s confusing! But it’s also really good to get all the different sides of the picture.

This book is definitely one of the best told/written orphan care stories I’ve read. Thumbs up for recommending it.

Movie Review: Raising Izzie

Raising Izzie

“But, c’mon God, this is like our second chance.”

After their mother’s death, 14 year old Gertie Nash stepped up to fill some very large shoes. Desperate to make sure she and her little sister, Izzie, stay together, Gertie avoids entering the foster care system at all costs. She juggles paying the bills, grocery shopping, and raising Izzie around maintaining good grades at school. No one seems to suspect anything until Gertie gets a new teacher. Mrs. Freeman is determined to run a tight ship, and Gertie baffles her.

My mom and I watched this movie together while my dad and brother were away for a weekend. I wasn’t entirely sure it would be good, but it was a contemporary, Christian movie about orphans so it worth the try. And I’m so glad we did try it. We enjoyed it so much we decided to re-watch it the following night before the rent time on Amazon ran out! It was clean cut and moving. My only complaints were two low cut dresses. And if a couple discussing trying to have kids bothers you, you may blush a few times. 😉 Really, though. A tear jerker for anyone interested in a unique “contemporary American orphan” story.

Movie Review: Safe Harbor

Doug and his wife Robbie are a well-to-do couple entering retirement. They plan to leave their country club and charity dinner life behind to travel the world in their sail boat. They hit a speed bump when a good friend and kind-hearted judge asks them for a favor. He asks them to take two juvenile delinquent boys for a few days to keep them out of county lock up. They reluctantly agree and embark on a journey far more adventurous than searching for sunken treasure.

I don’t remember where or why we got this movie, but I knew right away it would be a favorite. To make things even better, it’s based on a true story. It’s also quite clean. The movie makers manage to tell the story of four juvenile delinquents in a compelling manner without resorting to cussing. Two of the boys do flirt with some girls, and there’s a brief scene with said girls wearing bikinis. Consider yourself warned. It’s only about 30 seconds long.

Have any of you watched Safe Harbor? What did you think of it?

Movie Review: Stuck


All of these kids have families. All of these kids have homes in the US, and they have for years. And ye here they’re sitting, waiting, suffering.

International adoption is known for it’s hefty price tag and frequently long duration. Why does it take so long when so many children around the world wait for forever families? This documentary follows three families through their international adoptions, and provides a very personal look at the joys and heartaches of the process. It also provides a glimpse at international laws and treaties that cause adoptions to be held up for years with very little reason.

Yes, it’s true, I cried my way through this film not once, but twice. It’s heartbreaking to watch parents struggle against a convoluted system while loving children they can’t be with or take care of. And it’s wonderful (in a tearful sort of way ;)) to see these parents finally united with the children they have fought for. You can rent it for a week on Amazon or buy the DVD off the Both Ends Burning website. Want to know more? Read my friend Marli Renee’s blog post or watch the Stuck trailer over on the Videos page.

What do you know about the cost and time involved in international adoption? What are your opinions on the subject?

Book Review: Kisses From Katie

Kisses from Katie

People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters.

Katie Davis had it all as an eighteen year old American teen, but God was tugging at her heart. When she and her mother took a missions trip to Uganda, her life changed forever. She convinced her parents to allow her to stay in Uganda for a year and at the end of that time knew she could never again be happy in the US.

The synopsis of this book made me nervous at first because it says, “What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president…to disobey and disappoint her parents…” As much as I love missions, I wasn’t too comfortable with that statement, but the book came to me highly recommended, so I gave it a try. So glad I did. Turns out she did disappoint her family (who wanted her to attend college), but she made every effort to obey their requests and gained there (reluctant) approval before following what she felt God was calling her too. Katie is a truly courageous young women with an amazing story.

Did you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t read it, do you think you’ll give it a try in the future?

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