Walking From East to West (review)

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Walking from East to West: God in the ShadowsWalking from East to West: God in the Shadows by Ravi Zacharias

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the first time I heard Ravi Zacharias speak in our Saskatoon church (sometime in the late 1970s or early ’80s) I have been fascinated by his message and manner. His memoir, Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows, shines a light on where he came from and how he became the popular evangelist, Christian apologist and humanitarian that he is today.

In chronological order he tells the story of his unhappy childhood in India, his conversion, his move (with his family) to Canada, and his blossoming into family life and ministry.

The God in the Shadows angle is Zacharias recognizing and pointing out how God has been present in his life (though often unseen and unrecognized till much later). In fact he sees evidences of this being the case even before his existence in his great-great-grandmother’s conversion to Christianity. This is powerfully brought home to him when he finds her grave site and sees that the verse on her marker is the very one that God used to call him back to life after his suicide attempt. Throughout the book he points out many other marvelous “coincidences” that bring him to the conclusion that God has been interested in and involved in his life all along the way.

He comes across as a humble, grateful man who is still amazed at what God has done in and through him—a Chennai Indian lad who, until his conversion, was a sports-loving, directionless school goof-off.

The writing style is not as intellectually taxing as some of his more philosophical books and though the odd time a professorial word or two slips in, mostly Walking… is an easy-to-read story.

As I usually do when I read inspiring biographies and memoirs, I marked passages for future retrieval. Here are some bits I highlighted from Walking From East to West:

“God has an appointment with each of us, and it is critical that every man and woman know this. He will stop our steps when it is not our time, and He will lead us when it is” – p. 168 (Kindle Edition).

“… if you have not learned to pay the smaller prices of following Christ in your daily life, you will not be prepared to pay the ultimate price in God’s calling” – p. 199.

“Yes, logic is linear, but its implications are radial” – p. 205.

“Through all of the visitations of life—successes or failures—it is not how well you are known or not known. It is not how big your organization is or isn’t. It is not even how many sermons one has preached or books one has written or millions of dollars one has accumulated. It is how well do you know Jesus?” – p. 224.

I would recommend this book to all who have been impacted by and continue to enjoy and be challenged by the speaking and writing of Ravi Zacharias.

Walking from East to West is part of my own Kindle collection.

Ravi Zacharias’s book and speaking resources (like podcasts and recordings of his regular and weekly radio broadcasts) are available at his ministry (RZM) site.

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Captured by Moonlight – by Christine Lindsay (review)

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Captured by Moonlight (Twilight of the British Raj, #2)Captured by Moonlight by Christine Lindsay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though Lieutenant Laine Harkness is not committed to the religious beliefs of Miriam’s Mission, she is a nurse, committed to alleviating pain and suffering. And so it makes perfect sense for her to accompany devout Eshana in her quest to rescue the teenage girl about to give birth in the prostitute hut near Amritsar’s Hindu temple. That rescue gets Captured by MoonlightChristine Lindsay’s second book in the “Twilight of the British Raj” series — off to a riveting start.

Just days later Laine finds herself on a train to a less prominent posting until the brouhaha dies down, but not before she and Eshana manage to spirit away with them the young girl they have helped.

The place of Laine’s new assignment near Madras contains more than one surprise. For her part Eshana has never imagined the things that await her after leaving the 14-year-old ex-prostitute at the Ramabai Mukti Mission to return to Amritsar.

This well-crafted and beautifully written story held me captive from beginning to end. The Indian setting came alive with colors, smells, sounds, and a multitude of Indian words that lent it a feeling authenticity: “Laine’s nerves calmed somewhat and she began to eat of the pachadis and sambars, rasams and curds” (Kindle Location 2987).

Lindsay places the story firmly in history, dating the beginning “Late October 1921” and referring to various historical people and events including the Christian convert Sundar Singh, the Vellore Hospital, the Ramabai Mukti Mission, the rise of Gandhi and his non-cooperative movement, the riots surrounding the visit of the Prince of Wales, and the cholera pandemic of 1899-1923, that ended up killing more than 800,000 people in India.

The inspirational aspect of the book is subtle but deep and foundations the entire story. I found the character Eshana especially compelling. She struggles with the meaning of a difficult circumstance (“I have much work to do. Why do you lock me away when I could be working for your Kingdom?”– Kindle Location 2236) but ends up demonstrating the kind of selfless love that reminds us of the Saviour she follows.

There are romances too, but as romances go, the two here are not saccharine but tough and grounded, with resistance from most parties. Perhaps the most compelling romance is the love the characters sense from their creator, seen here through the eyes of Eshana’s friend, the young Sikh doctor Jai Kaur:

“What sent an arrow of fear into his heart was the sensation that he was being unceasingly pursued by someone other than these gentle women. Someone far greater …” (Kindle Location 2576).

For a captivating yet thoughtful historical, populated by strong interesting characters that will sweep you away to the India of the 1920s, Captured by Moonlight is hard to beat. Though it is the second book of a series, it easily stands alone and readers do not need to have read book one (Shadowed in Silk) to understand the story. Discussion questions at the end of the book make this an excellent choice for book clubs.

Captured by Moonlight Book Trailer

My review of Shadowed in Silk.

This review was first published on Blogcritics.

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