Saturday, June 1, 2013

What makes my heart ache...

In my time as a missions major at Lincoln Christian University, I read a lot of books and did a lot of projects on various topics. Everything from the country of Cambodia to the issue of sex trafficking to orphans to child soldiers to family ministry. And to this day I still devote a lot of time to studying and reading up on those things as I serve in the local church with my husband and wait to see where GOD will lead us in the future. While I know those are some tough subjects to read about and some that most people would be terrified to even think about, the reality is that my heart breaks for children who have found themselves abandoned, abused and broken in some way or another. My heart breaks for children all around the world who have to live each day with some sort of fear. Fear of who will take advantage of them next. Fear of not being able to find a place to sleep. Fear of not being able to find a meal. Fear of not being able to have a future and a life that matters. And so I read whatever I can in order to better understand the circumstances, challenges and consequences that children around the world face. And yesterday I read one of those books that just grips my heart and makes it ache because of how awful and harsh the world really is towards children and humanity in general.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is a book that is about exactly what the title says. It's the story of a boy who survived being a boy soldier in the country of Sierra Leone during one of its civil wars. A boy who was born in 1980 and saw a lot of evil by the time he was 16 years old. Ishmael published his story in 2007, after escaping from Sierra Leone and starting a new life in New York City. It is an incredible story. Made all the more impressive that it was written in English (very good English) when English was not his first or even his second language. It's a story that is hard to read because of the terrifying scenes and harsh images he paints with his words and memories. He shares stories of when he was young and before the war caught up to him, his brother and his friends. He shares stories of what life was like as he was trying to run from the war and keep from getting captured. He shares stories of how life changed when the national army "drafted" him at the age of 15 to fight against the rebels. And then he shares stories of his rescue and rehabilitation. They are all real stories. Real stories that are the stories too many children in the world share. They are stories that far too many children have to accept as part of their personal history.

Ishmael Beah wrote,

"I believe that children have the resilience to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance."
He originally said that at a conference at the UN that he got to be a part of shortly after being re-introduced to civilian life and his extended family who took him in after his time of rehabilitation. He stood before a group of world leaders and shared a part of his story. He shared the above statement in the hopes that one day no child would have to endure what he had. But as of yet, the use of children as soldiers hasn't been stopped. As of yet, the use of children for sex hasn't been stopped. As of yet, the use of children for cheap, slave labor hasn't been stopped. But yet, if given the chance, each of those children could overcome all that they have endured. They could find hope and purpose and even love and a family. 

I read hard books like A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier because it makes me pay attention to what is going on in the world. It makes me be aware of what children around the world are enduring. It keeps me from ignoring the problems or stepping away from them because "they aren't mine" or "they are on the other side of the world." As a Christian, but also as a human, I read these books so that I can be thinking of, praying for and reaching out to the children of the world who find themselves abandoned, abused and broken in some way. Yes, it can be depressing. Yes, it makes me cry. Yes, it makes my heart ache. But at least it reminds me to feel, to be human and to find a way to do something to change the world, even if it's just for one child. 

So let me ask you this.... what do you read about that makes your heart ache?

A rainy month...

The rainy month of May has come and gone. Yes, I know the rhyme is "April showers bring May flowers." However, May was very rainy, maybe even more so than April. While it was a rainy month, therefore creating the perfect mood for doing alot of reading, I really didn't read much. I don't know what was wrong with me. I just wasn't in the mood. Part of it I think was that I had too much on my mind to be able to sit down and focus on a book. Part of it was that I was just more content laying on the couch watching Netflix and napping. I am hoping that now that summer is here and my work schedules have switched up a bit that I will get back into a groove of reading each day, even if it's just a few chapters at a time. I love to read. I need to read. I miss reading when I give it up for awhile. And I have so many good books on my shelves and Nook that I don't want to leave them sitting and collecting dust.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the Classics Club Spin round #2. But never checked in to share what my title is that I want to try and finish before July 1st, mostly because I haven't had a desire to write or read much. But, the number that was randomly selected was 6 which means that my title is Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I started it, but only got past the first few pages before moving onto some other titles that I have found far more interesting. Titles that coincide with my passion for social justice, orphans and Christian discipleship. I have a lot going on this June, but hopefully will find a desire to actually sit down and focus on Wives and Daughters. We shall see and I will let you know how it goes. 

Finally, with it being the first day of a new month, it's time for me to record and share my stats for the month of May. With feeling like I didn't read much and then looking at what I did read, I don't feel that bad about it. I am surprised that I actually read as much as I did! So without further ado, here is what I read last month! 

Books read: 
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
No Longer a SlumDog by K.P. Yohannan 
Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick
Just In Case I Can't Be There by Ron Mehl
The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen 
I Am a Church Member by Thom S. Rainer  
  A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Favorite book read: 
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

Least favorite book read: 
Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick 

Number of pages read this month: 
Number of pages read this year: 
Numbers of books read this year: 
Number of Classics read so far: 
14 of 76