Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
I’m behind writing this review, as our youngest recovers from flu and the COVID-19 concern has made its way to our community. People are rightly concerned, and I, with them. As I settle in my “nest” to write, I do something I’d intended to do since reading “Venturing with God in the Congo.” I go to the archives of the author’s sermons and click the title, “Love with Shoes On,” where author and minister Darrell Champlin addresses U.S. economic concerns and the alarming spread of HIV aids. I couldn’t find the original date of his message, but Champlin is clearly sharing with a people concerned about a global health and national economic crisis. Its so comforting to hear his message, timely then and now, of the glorious hope we have in Christ and our call to share the Good News to a frightened world.
This is not how I imagined starting my review about this book when I started reading it a few months ago, but I’m thankful for faithful witnesses throughout ancient and recent history who were steadfast voices of hope in a frantic and chaotic world. I’m also grateful for publishers like Conjurske Publications who are committed to preserving these stories.
Every time we receive a package through the Homeschool Review Crew, we gather around with great anticipation. As we ripped the envelope open and the cover of this book shone through, I drew a deep inhale. The cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning. Large cat eyes peer through vivid green leaves as a colorful snake lies coiled below. A large elephant with fanned ears looks as though it’s coming straight at you on the back cover. The title, “Venturing with God in the Congo,” combined with the cover art, literally screams adventure, and the content does not disappoint. Another disclaimer, I was the weird kid in school who would sneak into the small library in our private school just to open books and inhale their musty pages. I would hide under the desk at home to read when I was supposed to be doing household chores. I’m an unashamed consumer of books, and when they’re aesthetically appealing, that only adds to the overall experience.
I read this book cover to cover, and shared excerpts with the family. The content was largely written by missionaries Darrell and Louise Champlin, with editor’s notes along the way. The Champlin’s were called to the Congo in 1954, where they shared in daily life with a remote people who had been waiting for someone to tell them about “The Book,” and share with them the hope of the Gospel.
The excerpts naturally led us to discussions of geography, culture, sharing our faith, and animal studies. Darrell is a gifted writer and storyteller that kept me riveted throughout the book, which is not an easy task. I took this book on two trips where Mom traveled with me, one where we spent four days in a van, and one where we spent extended time on an airplane. I talked about this book and shared excerpts so often that as soon as this review is posted, Mom is expecting me to relinquish it into her hands.
Escapades involving monkeys, civets, leopards, birds, snakes, termites, and elephants abound. Shelter was a fragile barrier between these animals and the people, and the missionaries wondered how to keep their infant son from harm. Their solution, Darrell writes, was “to have faith in God and have common sense – in that order.” Their ingenuity led them to create box beds for their children, boxes on legs with screened sides and a wooden roof that latched.
Lulu Bekanga, a local from generations of witchcraft and satan-worship, threatened the villagers that he would kill the first person who confessed belief in Jesus. “His bow and spear, notched with the tally of his victims, enforced the awful truth of his ominous threat…” By the grace of God, “Lulu, the feared murderer, became Bekanga Paul, the Apostle of his people.”
- We are an agrarian folk, accustomed to hunting and the cycle of life, so Darrell’s accounts of animals versus humans were not unfamiliar. If someone is uncomfortable with detailed accounts of hunting, harvesting, or self-protection against dangerous animals, I would caution there is plenty to deter that kind of reader. Also consider these accounts were written more than half a century ago, when laws, restrictions, and conservation efforts were vastly different than today.
- Our children thoroughly enjoyed the excerpts I shared with them, but some of the content would have been too alarming for our younger ones. I would recommend an adult read the book ahead to know what their children might be ready to hear.
- As an anabaptist believer and one who’s faith is centered on a peace emphasis and relational evangelism, there were tensions for me regarding some of the accounts and approaches, but Darrell’s devotion to God and his love for his people shone far beyond those differences.
Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. This treasure will be reread time and time again in our home for adventure, reinforcement of hope, and the courage to answer the clarion call to all believers to share their faith in whatever mission field to which we have been called.
For a full archive of Darrell Champlin’s sermons, visit https://archive.org/details/DarrellChamplin
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