Tag Archives: Body of Christ

Book Review: The Insanity of God


The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (with Gregg Lewis) is a soul-searching book that surpasses some missionary books and blogs I have read by its raw delivery.

Nik Ripken is a pseudonym. Some of the names in his stories have been made-up to protect those Christians in persecuted countries from discovery by their governments. It’s a book that takes us around the world as Nik interviews believers from countries hostile to Christianity. Intermixed in the book is his testimony.

Nik grew up a non-believer. He didn’t have the traditional church background like his wife, Ruth. He became a believer, dated Ruth, and their marriage began with a commitment to follow Jesus. Nik almost made me cry on page 54 when at Nik and Ruth’s wedding, Nik’s mom intended to divorce Nik’s father. Coming from a committed Christian family, Ruth felt shock.

Ruth and Nik’s mutual commitment to follow Jesus at all costs took them to the Horn of Africa. The early part of the book speaks about their beginnings and their work in learning a variety of African languages. Nik’s focus though became the country of Somalia, and in the early nineties it was war torn. Ruth and Nik were a team and after moving around the Horn of Africa learning to be missionaries, they settled in Nairobi and formed a relief organization of their own.

Nik made many trips into Somalia, staying sometimes for days to map out the needs, making local contacts, and researching how their new relief organization could help, but Somali caught Nik unaware. The starvation, the deaths, and the inward fighting left Nik feeling helpless. His Americanized faith did not prepare him for spreading the Gospel in a country that had maybe one or two believers in it. Persecution was common.

When Nik’s organization air dropped aid supplies to Somalia, villages would flock to it. The next day Muslims would arrive in the village, beat the men and rape the women for simply taking western aid. The Muslims warned the village that if aid was accepted again worse would happen. Nik found this frustrating how evil seemed to have the upper hand. In several areas Nik spoke about what was happening in Somalia as evil. Never have I read a missionary’s story that read so intense. The last one I read felt glossed over in what they experienced as if the area was not that dangerous. Nik effectively communicates and describes his experiences in Somalia, Nairobi, China, former Eastern Block countries, and Russia without padding anything. It doesn’t feel like he is holding anything back.

Nik was in Somalia at the time when the events of “Black Hawk Down” occurred. Nik worked in Somalia for a month at a time, spending the in-between times in Nairobi with his family. Nik struggled to cope with the starvation he witnessed and the frustration of only serving the Somalians physical needs. Many events challenged Nik.

A woman in a village tried to force her child on him. He wrote, “I was overwhelmed with the desperation of those mothers. I wondered what I would have done if it was my family that was starving. Would I consider giving away my son if that was the only possible way that he would live? The questions haunted me.” (pg. 58).

Then, Nik’s son, Tim, dies from an asthma caused cardiac arrest. Tim was a teenager. This event triggered Nik’s questions. He and Ruth had always wondered just how far they would go for Jesus. Wasn’t faith supposed to be easier?

Tim’s death was the catalyst in Nik’s worldwide search for answers. At first, the purpose was to find out how Christians in countries hostile to Christianity survived for purposes of learning how to reach Nik’s beloved Somali’s. In all actuality, the wound caused by the death of Tim made Nik reach out to believers in other countries.

He went to Russia and the Ukraine to interview people who once lived under the Iron Curtain. God showed up supernaturally in every country in ways that could make even the most disbelieving human being question his own atheism. This happened in China and the other countries he visited, too.

What struck me was when God spoke to him in an underground church in China. The hard truth Nik spoke would have in this country brought on accusations of being judgemental to these underground churches. Nik wanted to help them financially, but God silenced him literally. Out of the millions of believers, a few hundred were struggling, starving families. God instead asked Nik to relay this message:

“If ten million believers in your movement cannot take care of four hundred families, do you have the right to call yourselves the Body of Christ, the Church, or even followers of Jesus?”

The shock the underground church displayed melted into conviction. They swore to take care of the four hundred hurting families. The underlying theme in the book got through to me.

Most believing Christians in hostile countries embrace persecution as normal, “like the sun rising in the east.” Hearing stories of God moving worldwide like in Old and New Testament times reminded me how Americans are soft when it comes to their faith and how we take the Bible for granted. In China, a leader of an underground church is not trusted until they’ve been to prison at least once. Tales of Muslims encouraged through visions and dreams to seek Jesus and finding Bibles, even in an Islamic book store, was amazing.

The Insanity of God woke up my faith.

Even though there were times when the change of font was distracting and I felt that the end of the book lacked the punch it had throughout, going on too long towards the end, I gave this book five stars. I’ve never heard a missionary speak like this in person or in any book or blog I’ve read. It’s always been about support raising or I felt missionaries were holding back in some way, but The Insanity of God made me realize how much I take God for granted. Even though I’ve witnessed some supernatural answer to prayer, living in America can make you complacent.

And why not? Some of our churches are as large as college campuses. We don’t worry about being shot, bombed, or imprisoned here. In fact, we try to do things ourselves without inviting God into it or letting Him show us He can handle our situations. This book made me re-think my faith.

* Book given by publisher to review.


Author, Carol Cox (Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?)

Why I Write Christian Fiction by Carol Cox

Why do I write Christian fiction? First, let me say that I don’t see myself as a writer of Christian fiction as much as a follower of Christ who happens to write fiction. That may sound like a fine distinction, but it makes a difference in the way I look at my writing.

Maybe it would be a good idea to define terms so we’re all on the same page. I can’t think of a better definition of the genre than the one developed by the founders of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. Since the entire statement is rather lengthy, let’s just look at a few of the points that apply to this discussion.

Christian fiction is a category of stories written by novelists whose Christian world view is woven into the fabric of the plot and character development.

 As writers, our worldview will always be reflected in our work, no matter what our background or belief system. It’s a natural outpouring of who we are, the way we think, and what we believe.

I am a Christian who believes in God’s grace and His redemptive love for humanity. Because that belief is so much a part of me, those themes permeate the books I write—not as a means of bashing readers over the head with some sort of “truth hammer,” but as a natural outpouring of who I am.

 Although this definition might seem either simplistic on the one hand or overly broad on the other, this grouping of novels is as comprehensive and as varied in age, interest, and spiritual depth as its readership.

Some people have a tendency to lump all Christian fiction—and Christian writers—together, but the sub-genres that come under the heading of Christian fiction are as widely varied as the authors themselves. And that’s the way it should be.

The Bible talks about the Body of Christ being made up of many parts, each with its own gifts and purpose. The same applies to Christian authors, each one following the writing path he or she is led to. Some books tackle gritty issues head-on, while others (like mine) tend to be lighter reads that also carry a message of truth. There’s no one-size-fits-all mold that we have to try to wedge ourselves into, and I’m grateful for that. I don’t have to try to be someone I’m not. My responsibility is simply to be faithful to do the best with the gifts I’ve been given.

Let’s look at another snippet from that definition:

 Good fiction, whether or not it is identified as Christian, will provide a memorable reading experience that captures the imagination, inspires, challenges, and educates.

That sums up what I hope to create: good fiction. My books aren’t intended as sermons or thinly-veiled tracts. Frankly, I’m turned off by stories written with an agenda at the expense of a good story, no matter who the author is. No one—including me—likes to be manipulated.

I don’t sit down to write a book with the thought that it may change a life. Transforming people’s lives is the Lord’s job, not mine. My job is to write the best story I can, and leave the results to Him. He’s the one who knows the needs of the people who will read that book and which words will meet those needs far better than I ever could.

The final part of the definition that I’ll share with you contains this wisdom:

 Because the essence of Christianity is a relationship with God, a Christian novelists’ well-conceived story will in some way, whether directly or indirectly, add insight to the reader’s understanding of life, of faith, of the Creator’s yearning over His creation.

What a challenge! There are so many stories yet to be told, each one of them an avenue that can be used to explore yet another facet of God’s timeless truths. That’s enough to keep me honing my writing skills for a lifetime.

Carol Cox: “As a third-generation Arizonan, I have a special love for the Southwest and its history. Life in the Old West was never easy, but the American Frontier had a way of drawing people who were resilient, who met adversity with a quiet inner strength and a reliance on God’s provision. From the deserts to the canyons to the towering pine forests, the history of my home state is filled with tales of characters whose courage and tenacity helped shape this part of the country.”

Note From Nikki: Yesterday, I featured a few links that critically discuss Christian fiction. Today is the last day of, “Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?” Send me an email and tell me what you thought of the posts. To read more about this series and to catch up on the posts click here.