The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken (B&H Publishing Group)
Veteran missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken once believed God sent them around the world to share Jesus. Decades later, they are convinced God allowed them to learn how to follow Christ from those who suffer for their faith.
Ripken writes under a pseudonym for the sake of persecuted believers he has come to know. His 322-page book gives an account of his journey to understand God’s purposes in their suffering.
The Ripkens spent 25 years in the Middle East and North Africa. His frequent travels from their mission-base in Kenya to Somalia resulted in a faith crisis for him. His work in that country ruined by civil war and deadly drought fill much of the book’s first half.
Ripken felt he “descended into hell” when he landed in Somalia in 1992. The country was more oppressed than anything he ever had seen or imagined. His feelings of failure to prevail against “the hideous face of evil and its crushing impact on the country” caused him to question God’s promises and purposes. A personal blow came when the couple’s second son died suddenly. The family returned home to Kentucky to regroup and heal.
The book shifts with the Ripkens’ leave of absence to pursue a “persecution project” to develop discipleship materials for oppressed Christians by visiting hard places. Instead, they learned from hearing the amazing stories of Christians who thrived amid persecution.
The Ripkens’ project stretched to 15 years, with visits to hundreds of believers in more than 60 countries who have experienced adversity or worse. This book contains their surprising and important lessons for all who desire to follow Christ.
Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch (Intervarsity Press)
By recognizing power as a gift from God, Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making and executive editor of Christianity Today, insists Christians can redeem power and view it in its proper perspective.
Scripture calls Christians to discipline and to steward the power God has given. The book is divided into four major sections with an illustrative Scripture passage for each. They are “The gift of power: In the beginning it was not so,” Genesis 1-2; “The grip of power: It will not be so among you,” Exodus 20; “Institutions and creative power: From generation to generation,” Philemon; and “The end of power: We had to celebrate,” Luke 15.
Crouch not only insists power is a gift, but also notes, “Gifts also require a giver,” and calls for a restored relationship to the Giver.
Enjoy this exhaustive and fresh approach to the gift of God’s power.
Skip Holman, minister of discipleship
Northeast Baptist Church