Sunday, July 1, 2012
no greater LOVE - A Book Review
From the Back: California businessman Levi Benkert was playing with his children in the park when he received an urgent phone call from a friend asking him to drop everything and fly to Ethiopia to help organize a rescue orphanage for children destined to be murdered as part of a tribal superstition know as "mingi." In tribal culture, children and infants with even the slightest defect are considered "cursed" and are killed by their own parents, who fear allowing the children to live will cause bad luck to descend on the village. Moved by his friend's story, Levi packed his bags and left for what he thought would be a short two-week trip. Once he arrived in Ethiopia and met the children, however, Levi knew there was no turning back. Six weeks later Levi, his wife Jessie, and their three young children sold their home and all their belongings and relocated to Ethiopia indefinitely. What followed was the adventure of a lifetime. From the challenges of establishing and running the orphanage and finding adoptive homes for the rescued children to his continued efforts to work with tribal leaders and bring an end to "mingi killings" once and for all, No Greater Love is a gripping and poignant story of one man's quest to make a difference - no matter the cost.
Synopsis: Levi Benkert was a businessman in California who was seemingly on top of the world until the recession hits and everything falls apart. As he is searching for what to do, a friend reaches out and asks him to go to Ethiopia to see about opening an orphanage to save children. Benkert agrees to go and what he sees changes his life forever. He comes back to the states, packs up his family and moves to Ethiopia. the book chronicles the early days of his ministry, the ups and downs and highlights God's hands through it all. Benkert goes through the trials of working with local leaders, the distrust, the language barriers and the difficulties of living in such harsh conditions.
My Review: This is a small book but packs quite a punch. Benkert gives up a great deal to follow God's call on his life. He does not sugarcoat the difficulties of working in such harsh conditions. He was honest about the process - the detractors he heard from (and there were many) - the bureaucratic difficulties - the loneliness his family faced. The writing style lets the reader feel the horror of children killed because of tribal superstitions, feel the weight of mistakes made, and feel the triumph of the small victories. I appreciated Benkert's honesty. He could have glossed over their mistakes but he chose instead to share them with the world. He was open with the raw emotions he and his wife Jessie felt as they dealt with all the issues work in a developing country can bring. It was also refreshing to see that while Benkert knows God is guiding the process, he still has questions and struggles with his call. Too many times, Christian writers seem to gloss over their struggles and appear "super-Christian" instead of focusing on how God made everything happen. This book is not that - this is an honest and raw look at the difficulties in adoption, and in serving God in the hard places. Keep the Kleenex handy; you'll need them.
Score: 4.5 bookmarks out of 5
Note About the Book: At the end, there is a website: www.bringlove.in. This website is the personal site for the ministry in Ethiopia. You can check it out for more information. They are planning a US tour starting week after next. Lots of locations on the calendar though not many in the Southeast.
Note: Tyndale House Publishers gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.