SINGING THROUGH THE NIGHT: Courageous Stories of Faith from Women in the Persecuted Church by Anneke Companjen (Revell;0-8007-3198-0, PB, 296 pages) Can a book about the persecuted church be optimistic and inspiring? Anneke Companjen answers with an unmistakable "Yes!" in Singing through the Night.
Companjen introduces us to two dozen Christian women in countries from South America to Asia. She includes songs that have meant a great deal to several of them as a unifying theme among the stories, and shows what has helped them through the difficult times of persecution.
The women are a fascinating group. Anna lives on the run in China as she trains child evangelists. She has asked the Lord to give her all of the children of China. Marlene's husband was a right-wing paramilitary thug in Colombia before he became a Christian and an evangelist. Seeing the change in him brought Marlene to the Lord and earned him death threats. In Pakistan, Maryam's children wondered if today was the day they would die. Lee did not become a Christian until she saw fellow prisoners who were Christians refuse to deny their faith in North Korea's death camps. A jealous neighbor killed Grace's only child as an infant, but God used Grace to minister to women and children in war-torn southern Sudan.
Each chapter tells the story of at least two women and concentrates on a method of holding onto your faith during the persecution. Most chapters include an anecdote or thought by Companjen on her experience as a missionary or as a worker for Open Doors International, a relief organization that ministers to the persecuted church. The last chapter guides the reader's efforts to help.
Though similar to her previous book, Hidden Sorrow, Lasting Joy, which was very good, I found Singing through the Night more uplifting and inspiring. In one sense it is inspiring because these women seem like ordinary Christian women, not spiritual superwomen. Companjen brings them to life so that you feel you could sit down with them, learn from them, weep with them.
She ends each chapter with questions that include biblical references, making this a good book for a group or personal Bible study. Also, the questions are not saccharine and shallow as sometimes appear in Sunday school curricula, but are thought provoking and stimulate growth. This would be a good choice for a high school girls' or college-age women's Bible study because many of the women had difficult decisions to make while young. One had to raise her younger siblings while her parents were separated by the economy. Another married a dangerous man who terrified her because she felt she had no choice. Another had to flee her family because they were considering killing her if she would not recant her Christianity, and one was drafted into the Sudanese army!
This is an excellent, uplifting introduction to the persecuted church, especially for women. I highly recommend it. – Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
In their darkest times they discovered the most beautiful songs.
There are many untold stories of the persecuted church--stories of women who bravely follow Christ at any cost. This stirring book reveals the lives of eleven women in nine different countries around the world. They have lost husbands, children, homes, jobs, or their very freedom and yet continue to praise and serve their Lord.
The lessons that these courageous women learned in tough times will help you persevere and endure whatever hardships come your way. Their stories will ignite your passion and gratitude for the basic right to worship God. May they inspire you, too, to sing through the night.