Thursday, March 12, 2020

Venturing with God in Congo

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.

Reading is a priority in our home, so we are always excited to receive books to review. And while I enjoying getting lost in a good picture book with my little ones, true accounts are what is near and dear to my heart, especially stories about missionaries. These servants who have sacrificed all in service to their Lord are examples to us all. Their testimonies are inspiring and their dedication is to be emulated.

I couldn't wait to head to the heart of the jungle in Venturing with God in Congo from Conjurske Publications.

Conjurske Publications is a distribution company whose mission is "to reprint the greatest Christian literature from the past several centuries and present it to Christians across the globe today." Because preserving the essence of historical literature is vital, they exclusively sell full texts and make spelling and grammatical changes only when necessary. The believe also in not only the quality of the writing, but the beauty of the physical book, as well, as they produce striking covers that catch the eye and beg to be read. Their titles cover everything from biography to encouragement to poetry to short stories and more.

Venturing with God in Congo relates the stories of the Champlin family while they ministered in Congo in the mid 1900s. This collection of short stories document how the family was used to influence a sinful people as they lived as "jungle rats" in the heart of Africa. Their house, made of mud and sticks with dirt floors, was much different than the amenities that we take for granted in the States. The Champlins (Darrell, Louise, and their three children) lived as the natives lived, ate what the people ate. They were able to influence the Congolese people in a great way because they became one with them in many areas.

One aspect in which they refused to adapt to the national lifestyle was the practice of animism. The Champlin's sole purpose in going to this foreign field was to take the life-changing gospel of Christ to a lost people. Superstitions were abundant with the worship of evil spirits while talismans and fetishes were commonplace. Over time, the Champlins watched the fear of the bekadji (evil spirits) diminish as the love of God filled the hearts of the people. How amazing to witness the salvation of even the witch doctors! Of course, they experienced many hardships during that time, as well. Darrell relates stories of tracking down a rogue elephant, coming face-to-face with a 17-foot python, being flipped in a boat by enormous hippos, getting chased by an African boar, being mauled by a leopard, not to mention enduring the hardships of the weather and terrain. There are also stories of people being threatened with a spear, having a close call with death because of appendicitis, being stoned by angry villagers, observing the horrific practices of "becoming a man," witnessing the miraculous change of the people's own "Apostle Paul," and being a part of helping people see the Light in a dark world. It is evident that the Champlins loved these people, and they in return respected the missionaries and their God.

Darrell's writing is easy-going and conversational. Because he initially wrote the stories as individual accounts, not as a whole book, there is some redundancy of facts. The introduction and beginning chapters are a bit slow, but the book does increase in interest. There are also jokes woven throughout that went over the heads of my kids--he refers to the jungle as shopping at the "hardware store" since everything these used for building they found in nature, talks about "upholstered pews" when the bark was left on the log benches, and jokes of having an agreement with the bicycles because "they would carry us where we could, and we would carry them where they couldn't carry us" as the terrain changed along their paths. There is a pronunciation guide for Lingala in the beginning of the book as he incorporated the native language when he could. 

I used this book as a read aloud with my kids ranging from 5-14 years old. While the vast majority of it was appropriate, there were portions that I skipped or felt that might not be fitting for young kids. It was mentioned many times that the people lived practically naked, but there was also a statement about "nubile young women . . . proudly proclaiming their impending adulthood," a detailed description of a birth, and and explanation of it being rare for a girl to be a virgin still at 13 years old, among other things. 

The Champlins' memoir is awe-inspiring and convicting. The hard cover book has a soft, vibrant cover and 290 pages. There are nearly 50 stories broken into short chapters, making it easy to pick up even if you have only a few minutes to read. Each chapter ends with a Bible verse and its application. There is also a photo gallery of black and white pictures in the center of the book.

It is obvious that the Champlins loved their Lord and were greatly used by Him. Even though Darrell has since graduated to Heaven, he is still being used by God through this testimonial of Venturing with God in Congo.

"The two solutions were, of course, to have faith in God and have common sense--in that order."
~ Darrell Champlin

You can connect with Cojurske Publications on their website and Facebook.

You can read more reviews of Venturing with God in Congo on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Venturing with God in Congo {Conjurske Publications Reviews}
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