Saturday, December 17, 2011

Behind the Veils of Yemen - Book Review

Book Description: When Audra Grace Shelby and her husband felt God calling them to minister in the Middle East, she was fearful--how would she raise her children in the heart of conservative Islam? Armed with prayers and a faith that always seemed too small, the family made the move to Yemen, enduring deadly illness, uncertainty, and the unnerving experience of being Christians in an Islamic culture. Yet God was at work, and Audra was invited to see what few Christian women have seen: behind the veils of Muslim women. Here she shares about the friendships she forged, about the opportunities to minister when her new friends' hopes shriveled and their own religion faltered--and how the grace of God touched lives in the midst of an enemy stronghold. With humor, passion, and honesty, she shows readers glimpses of life deep in the heart of Islam and the yearning heart of our loving God.

Review: This book chronicles some of the time Audra Grace Shelby spent with her family in Yemen. She opens by discussing the difficult journey to the mission field, one that included a life-threatening illness for her husband. It moves into stories from their first weeks/months in Yemen. She chronicles how she built relationships with the women in her community, most importantly, Fatima, her Arabic tutor. Shelby details how these relationships continue to be built by detailing some of her encounters with the Muslim women and their personal, probing questions of her life. I could feel Shelby’s awkwardness in some of the situations she described. I loved the honesty Shelby portrayed throughout this book. She was honest about her struggles – with the culture, the heat and the inconveniences present when working in a developing country. She is also refreshingly honest in her conversations with God outlining her questions and doubts. These conversations happen repeatedly throughout the book, often accompanied by the lesson God has shown her. I really enjoyed this book and it was a remarkably quick read. The storytelling style in this book made me want to keep reading. My only lingering question is what happened after they returned to Yemen after the birth of their fourth child. The follow-up at the end doesn’t really address that and I was left wondering what happened to Fatima, did the seeds of the gospel ever see harvest? I felt the book was missing a couple of chapters. Even with that, I recommend this book to anyone interested in missions, life in the Middle East or both.

Baker Publishing gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

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