Friday, February 7, 2014

Are we going to Kenya or Turkey?

Last fall a friend loaned me the book, “Miracle at Tenwek: the story of Ernie Steury” by Gregg Lewis. Since it tells the story of a physician who devoted his life to working in Kenya, she thought I would like it. Helping out in Africa and the nitty-gritty of medicine, I thought I would like it too. It started out that way, but currently I am three-quarters through it and have started skimming the pages.

God certainly had His hand in all of Dr. Steury’s work and He blessed the hospital at Tenwork as well as the Kipsigis tribe it served. And I do love reading about His miracles, but it has gotten a bit long. This is one of those books whose format is: this happened, then this happened, then this happened. There’s no change of pace. And each story is exactly like the previous story. (Yawn.)

A lot of people really liked this book, liked the testimony it shares. Those who are called to do missions work should turn their lives over to God and trust in Him totally to get them through every trial. I agree with that. But if you write a book about your experiences, keep your focus on what the readers want to read, not on every single thing that happened.

Take the book I actually did finish, after having started it only the day before. “My Journey to Kilis” by Abdullah Firoze is also about a doctor – ok, not a real doctor, he’s a third year medical student, but on his way to becoming a doctor – who feels called to help Syrian refugees.

His journey is just that – a journey filled with highs and lows, changes of plans, language barriers, illness and everything else that could go wrong. Through it all, however, the author keeps a positive attitude and accepts that this is the way things are going to be. Having been to Kenya twice and Peru once, I could so relate to some of his feelings of disappointment when things didn’t turn out as planned. I also enjoyed reading about the illnesses and injuries he encountered at his clinic.

Originally written as a blog, the author didn’t seem to make many changes to put his manuscript into book format, which made reading a little challenging at times. Also, after working with refugees in the Turkey city of Kilis for two and a half weeks, he spent his last few days touring Istanbul. I don’t think he’s a travel guide candidate as the last pages of his book didn’t make me want to run out and buy a plane ticket.

Overall, however, I would have to say that I would journey to Kilis before going to Tenwek if I only had these two books to go by. 

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