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.
If you like reading missionary adventures, you will want to consider Venturing With God In Congo from Conjurske Publications. It is the memoir of missionary Darrel Chapman and his challenges and triumph in the Congo jungle.
I am always watching for missionary stories to add to our homeschool reading. I want my children to hear the accounts of men and women called by God to share the good news. Venturing With God In Congo is exactly that.
Each chapter is a thrilling short story depicting the adventures of everyday missionary life, hunting trips, and evangelistic excursions of the author Darrell Champlin. Wherever the missionary went, he saw God working. His words gave continual glory to God, even in the most challenging situations.
Reading The Book
I received this book to review and chose to use it as a read-aloud with all my kids. If you’re like me and brush by introductions to jump into a book, don’t. The introduction contains the family history of the author and his wife Louise, along with a wonderful testimony of how they were called to the mission field. It set a foundation for the short stories that followed.
The chapters are not lengthy, and each describes a different experience of the missionary’s time in Congo. As we began the book, I initially had to remind my youngest that each chapter was a story of its own. Although each story related to the missionary, and several spoke of the same people and places, the chapters do not build on each other.
The accounts were gripping. We were fascinated with how the couple kept their children safe in a home filled with jungle bugs and snakes through faith and screened box beds. A rogue elephant, wild boar, and a really disgusting description of a python digesting its prey held new levels of missionary awe for my kids. They especially enjoyed the pages of photos that showcased some of the stories.
The common thread that weaved through each chapter was a reverence for God. Each experience, joyous or heartbreaking, reflected God’s presence in the lives of the missionary family. The heart of the author was to see the village peoples of Congo come to salvation through Jesus Christ. His mission was no easy feat given the darkness, fear, and superstition the villagers lived under.
Our Favorite Parts
Each of my kids was fascinated by an animal encounter. We’ve studied African animals, but the experiences on the mission field were like nothing we’d read before. We were surprised to learn how territorial hippopotamuses are of their waterways. The usually docile creatures can become enraged over a canoe attempting to cross a river. Many stories involved wild hunting experiences. As there was no corner convenience store, the missionaries were as dependant on hunting as the villagers.
The practice of animism by the villages seemed unbelievable compared to our way of life. The author provided a thorough explanation of animism as it relates to the history and culture of Africa. Although the people believed in a great Creator God, they did not see Him as present or accessible. For generations they were bound by superstition, turning to medicine men and diviners and believing in curses. The depth of their hopelessness left them living in fear.
When a villager accepted the gospel and turned to Christ, it was not a simple feat. Taboos and curses were so engrained in their way of life, they believed they would die if they broke one. It was impossible to be real Christians and continue to follow the occultic ways of superstition. A small group of believers broke the village taboos by eating forbidden food. Afterward, a new believer seeking baptism was questioned on their practice of taboos.
Our favorite excerpt addressed the care taken during a baptism:
“Bordered by towering, tangled jungle on both sides, the Lukenie flows deep and black, forming the entire northern border of the area God gave us to reach in the heart of Congo. Home of the giant crocodiles and huge hippopotamuses, it is a river in which we baptized with caution!”
We have a new respect for the animals of Africa, and an appreciation that our church’s summer baptism is held in a crocodile free lake.
Venturing With God In Congo is a fascinating look into the life of a missionary. The stories are captivating and seeing the work of God carried out is humbling. This book is a wonderful addition to our homeschool lessons and our family library.
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