Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Book Review: Mugabe and the White African by Ben Freeth

About the Book: Ben Freeth has an extraordinary story to tell. Like that of many white farmers, his family's land was "reclaimed" for redistribution by Mugabe's government.

But Ben's family fought back. Appealing to international law, they instigated a suit against Mugabe's government in the SADC, the Southern African equivalent of NATO. The case was deferred time and again while Mugabe's men pulled strings. But after Freeth and his parents-in-law were abducted and beaten within inches of death in 2008, the SADC deemed any further delay to be an obstruction of justice. The case was heard, and was successful on all counts.

But the story doesn't end there. In 2009 the family farm was burned to the ground. The fight for justice in Zimbabwe is far from over--this book is for anyone who wants to see into the heart of one of today's hardest places and how human dignity flourishes even in the most adverse circumstances.

Read the press release for more information.

The PBS debut of Mugabe and the White African, the award-winning documentary of the same name, was on July 26th. Watch now at PBS.

My Thoughts: This book is a must read. I found it almost unbelievable that this true story of evil dictatorship is something that is going on right now.

Right. now.

While I sit in my house with no fear of it being illegally seized by thugs who have the full support of a corrupt police force and government, there are others that do not have the same luxury.

Despite owning their land for decades, investing their energy, time, heart and soul into farming this beautiful land and returning animals to their rightful homes - these dedicated farmers live daily in fear for their homes, possessions and very lives because they are white.

President Mugabe, voted in by the people (under threats of death should they fail to do so), said "The only language that the mabhunu (racist term for white farmer) will understand is the language of the gun. The more you kill the nearer you get to your objective.... I am still the Hitler of our time. This Hitler has only one objective - justice for his own people, sovereignty for his own people, recognition of the independence of his people and their right to their own resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Then times Hitler, that is what we stand for."

But this time, Hitler was a black African cleansing his country of white Africans. In a short 4 years, 85% of white farmers fled in fear for their lives or were forcibly removed from the farms they had worked for decades, and in the past 10-15 years, Mugabe has all but succeeded in removing the white man from his country of Zimbabwe.

But a few chose to stay, determined to take a stand against evil. Ben Freeth and his father-in-law Mike Campbell decided to fight the corrupt government head on and took President Mugabe to court. Because, as the tagline for the documentary says "If good men do nothing, evil will prevail." Their courage in the midst of such hopelessness and fear is inspiring. Their willingness to continue to fight, even after enduring vicious beatings themselves, is incredibly moving.

This is a spiritual battle. From the book...

Why are there so many hungry people in a continent where there is the potential, over much of it, to get double the annual grain yields per hectare of the best farms in Europe? A continent that has more agricultural land, more mineral wealth and natural resources than any other? A continent where, only half a century ago, before "liberation", there were food surpluses and almost every country was self-sufficient in grain?

I came to the conclusion that the answer is simple. Every country, every institution, every enterprise is made up of individuals. And it's the individuals within each business, or organization, or government, or country that make them tick - or stop ticking. The problem in Africa lies with individuals and, more specifically, the spiritual forces within or behind those individuals.......

The reason that African is hungry is not because of physical factors; there is absolutely no physical reason why Africa should be hungry. Africa is hungry because of the covenant with death and the web of lies in which it has encased itself. Where there are lies, there is no reason, no logic, no justice, no God, and no goodness. Without faith, it's easy to get ensnared in the tangle of lies. It's also very easy to compromise one's principles out of fear.

And Mugabe rules by fear.

Even after Ben and Mike's landmark victory in the courts, Mugabe and his henchmen continued their reign of terror, as both Mike and Ben's homes were burned, looted and destroyed and Mike eventually succumbed to the injuries he received at the hands of Mugabe's thugs.

There is yet to be a happy ending to this story, but the Freeths have not given up hope.

And it is not an unrealistic hope.

Botswana was the third poorest country in Africa at independence in 1966. But under the servant leadership of President Khama, a dedicated Christian, who was committed to upholding the rule of law, property rights and maintaining sound fiscal policy this country has thrived. Proper leadership created development and wealth in this desert country and Botswana is now the second richest country in Africa in terms of per capita income and is one of the two most competitive nations in Africa.

And so Ben and his family continue to hope.

Only when the miracle occurs and hope is rekindled by people whose hearts are brave enough to face the oppressor and throw off the yoke of oppression will transformation take place.

I found some parts of the book a bit confusing and hard to follow at times, but the majority of it was a compelling, and extremely difficult, book to read.

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Book Review: Cherished by Kim Cash Tate

About the Book: How can she believe God cherishes her when she can't forgive herself?

Kelli London once dreamed of being a songwriter. As crazy as it seemed, she hoped that God would use the lyrics that came to her while she slept. She dreamed about Brian too, that the love they shared would be a forever kind of love. But choices she'll forever regret upended her hope . . . and turned her dreams to dust. When those dreams come knocking once more, she's forced to deal with the pain of the past.

Heather Anderson's life has spun out of control—first, an affair with a married man, then a one-night stand with the drummer of a popular Christian band that left her devastated. Broken and alone, she cried out to the only One who can save her. And He did. But that's just the beginning, because now she must leave behind the only life she's ever known.

Two women with shame-filled pasts form an unlikely friendship. What does God's forgiveness look like for them? Will they ever believe that He loves them . . . and can still offer them a life where they are cherished?

My Thoughts: This book was a light read even though it dealt with some serious issues. I loved how it explored the practical side of living in the light of God's forgiveness, while never minimizing the seriousness of sin or it's consequences.

I did feel like issues were usually resolved a lot quicker than they would be in real life, and that certain characters instinctively responded much more godly than the "average" Christian would - which perhaps says more about the average Christian (myself included) these days than the book itself.

The book showed the good, the bad and the ugly of Christian circles - from the hypocrites (those professing to believe but who knowingly living the opposite lifestyle with no sign of remorse - IOW not true believers), to those struggling to live out their faith, to those making mistakes (like everyone does) but restoring their relationships with those they've offended and with God by repenting in true humility, to those mature in their faith and discipling those around them, and everything in between.

I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

Thank you to Booksneeze for providing me with my complimentary e-book review copy of Kim Cash Tate's Cherished.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Book Review: Don't Check Your Brains at the Door by Josh McDowell

About the Book: “Seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30—both evangelical and mainline—who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23, according to the survey by LifeWay Research.” (USA Today)

Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door gives teens answers that make sense, even for the toughest of questions. Internationally known defender of the faith Josh McDowell and co-author Bob Hostetler offer clarity laced with humor to expose common myths about God, the Bible, religion, and life to show how Christianity stands up to the test of fact and reason. Teens will be better equipped to stick with their faith as they begin to understand why they believe and why it’s important to make a lifetime commitment to Christ and the church.

My Thoughts: This book is an apologetics book geared to young teens and presented in a short devotional style format.

The book is divided into different types of myths such as myths about God (such as The Father Christmas Myth), Jesus (The Good Teacher Myth), the Bible (The Holey Bible Myth), the Resurrection (The Swoon Myth), Religion and Christianity (The Unscientific Myth), Life and Happiness (The Conformist Myth).

The authors use current and age focused examples (such as Star Wars) to help illustrate their point, and use Scripture, history and logic to debunk the myths and explain what the truth really is.

Each short chapter ends with a section of "Brain Food" - study questions and scripture for the reader to dig a little deeper on the topic themselves.

Great apologetics book for young teens!

Thank you to Booksneeze for providing me with my complimentary e-book review copy of Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler's Don't Check Your Brains at the Door.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Book Review: A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf

About the Book: An inspiring re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love.

See the story of Esther in an entirely new way—with all the political intrigue and tension you remember, but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther’s beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart.

Imagine anew the story of Esther, one of our faith’s great heroines, destined to play a key role in the history of Christianity.

My Thoughts: Like many girls/women, Esther has always been one of my favourite books of the Bible. And one of the few that doesn't actually mention the name of God - though His fingerprints are clearly seen throughout the story.

This book is a work of fiction and the author definitely takes liberties with the Biblical narrative, but it is written as a love story and it is a beautiful one at that.

Just as I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was instantly captivated by the Cinderella-esque tale of the little Jewish girl who became Queen of Persia, a strong woman who risked everything to save her people.

Definitely don't use this as a theological commentary on the book of Esther, but enjoy it for what it is - romantic historical Christian fiction.

Absolutely 2 thumbs way up!

Thank you to Booksneeze for providing me with my complimentary review copy of Joan Wolf's A Reluctant Queen.


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