Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Insanity of God: A Book Review

One of the books I received this past Christmas was this one: “The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected.”

Its author uses the pseudonym Nik Ripken. Why a pseudonym? It is pseudonymously written as a part of the author’s effort to protect the identities of the people whose lives continue to be in real danger because of their faith.

It is the story of Nik Ripken, who when once asked by a mission committee interviewing him about his call to the foreign mission field, answered simply, “I read Matthew 28.” It is the story of how the Ripken family would move from their native American homeland to Nairobi, Kenya. It is the story of how in the early 1990's, long before the western world woke up to the plight of the Somali people and responded with aid and UN troops, Nik Ripken made several trips in and out of war-torn Muslim Somaliland to assess the needs and do what he could for a people devoid of hope. It is the story, not just of tragedy among the Somali people, but also of how tragedy stuck even in the Ripken’s own family. In reflecting on his time in Somaliland, the author writes:
I had to work hard to remember that neither Islam nor Muslims were the real enemy here. Lostness was the enemy. The enemy was the evil that viciously misleads and traps people like lost sheep without a shepherd. The Somalis were the victims. They were not the source or even the cause of the evil in their land. They were victims suffering evil’s grim effects. (p.119)
After already having spent years in Somaliland, and in a effort to one day return better prepared to serve and work amongst the Muslim communities of Africa, Nik Ripken traveled to over sixty countries to seek out and listen to the stories of more than six hundred believers, men and women who learned to live their faith often amidst severe persecution. Toward the end of the story, and after travelling the globe listening to the testimonies of the persecuted church, Nik Ripken seems to have an epiphany of sorts, and makes a few statements that ought to wake up an otherwise slumbering and non-persecuted church. He says:
We identify ourselves as believers by taking a stand with, and following the example of, those in persecution. Or we identify with their persecutors by not giving witness of Jesus to our family, our friends, and our enemies. Those who number themselves among the followers of Jesus – but don’t witness for Him – are actually siding with the Taliban, the brutal regime that rules North Korea, the secret police in communist China, and the Somalilands and Saudi Arabias of the world. Believers who do not share their faith aid and abet Satan’s ultimate goal of denying others access to Jesus. Our silence makes us accomplices. … “Why would Satan want to wake us up [to anticipated potential North American persecution] when he has already shut us up?” … Perhaps the question should not be: “Why are others persecuted?” Perhaps the better question is: “Why are we not?” (p.310-311)
Ouch! Hard words, no doubt, but (prophetic?) words nonetheless that Nik Ripken believes that many of us need to hear. He may be right. Still, it's amazing to me how often it seemed that I was reading a paraphrase of the New Testament book of Acts.

I enjoyed reading The Insanity of God and I do recommend it. Peace and Blessings. 

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