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Book Review: “Safely Home” by Randy Alcorn
Stir the heart and the conscience to stand up for Jesus
For a book written 20 years ago, Randy Alcorn’s “Safely Home” captures the cultural dichotomy between the U.S. and China. In the U.S. we value instant gratification, self-indulgence, and climbing the ladder of worldly success. China is much different, but from the book, I read of Chinese values that hold family, legacy, and community above greed and glorification of self. The state does not hold those values, however.
This book is appropriate for young readers and anyone interested in thinking and talking about the war against Christianity, both historically and presently. Works of fiction often have a greater impact in raising awareness and Alcorn tells a compelling story that invites readers into the world of these characters.
Several scenes struck me in the book as illustrative of cultural priorities:
The American main character, Ben Fielding, accepts the invitation to stay in his old friend’s home after 20 years of not seeing or hearing from the man. Li Quan generously opens his home and his heart, but Ben is offended by Li Quan’s poverty and sneaks off to stay in luxury hotels on the weekend.
The story shows the extent to which corporations will go to increase profits at the expense of everything else. The almighty stakeholder. Who cares how the money is made, as long as it keeps increasing.
Li Quan is not concerned that he is a locksmith despite his Harvard education. He tells the story of his grandfather who was a street sweeper and he vowed to be the best street sweeper there was.
In the U.S. people throw away the opportunity to worship the Lord, while in China, the only thing people are free to worship is the state. The value of gathering to worship God was so great, people would get up before dawn to travel miles and miles, risking arrest.
In China, they hand-copied Bibles to pass around and if caught with them, they could be imprisoned. Those Bibles were the most valuable possession most people owned.
It’s only fiction, right?
One might think that this book was written so long ago, things cannot possibly be like that anymore. But anyone who denies the persecution of Christians in China and other parts of the world is not paying attention. It’s even started here, albeit more covertly.
Take a read of Fan Shen’s autobiography “Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard” which tells the story of his state-controlled life until he escaped as a young adult. The state in China replaces God as a religion. They use fear, intimidation, and violence to get people to submit.
When power rests solely at the hands of the state, they control every aspect of your life including where you live, whether you go to school or not, what school you go to, what job you’ll have, who you’re allowed to marry. The state even shipped young people off to the country to use them as slave labor to teach them how to be revolutionaries. That concept is so foreign to me, I found it terrifying.
If you want something a little more current, read Sayragul Sauytbay’s autobiography “The Chief Witness: Escape from China’s Modern-Day Concentration Camps.” She escaped in 2018 after being imprisoned and tortured, separated from her family, and enduring the Chinese re-education. Now, she tells her story and continues to advocate for her people who are still imprisoned in China.
Most recently, an article in The Federalist tells the story of Finnish pastor Juhana Pohjola who is currently on trial for his Christian beliefs. Although celebrated for his courage ten years ago, he is now targeted because the Finnish government has decided that the Bible is hate speech.
Other countries have similar hate speech laws and while the Bible is not classified as hate speech in the U.S. yet, there are court cases attacking religious liberty occurring right now. John Hawkins highlights some of these in Townhall.
Make no mistake, the enemy uses the courts because they know that they cannot win over the population with these ideas. But each court case establishes precedent for a future court case until eventually it will be illegal to read the Bible or profess that Jesus is Lord.
Awareness and action
People in America, myself included, tend to be ego-centric as if the entire world revolves around what we think and do. Reading books like these is a reality check. The current socio-political climate suggests that America is losing her superpower status in the world and her citizens are too consumed with sex and gender to pay attention to the real war.
The real war is a spiritual war. The enemy is coming for your children, your autonomy, your freedom, and your beliefs. The enemy wants to replace God with the state and any student of history knows the consequences of that. An American version will be no different. When I speak of the enemy, I speak of the enemy of God who uses people to do his dirty work. The goal? Tear people away from God. We cannot let that happen.
The problem is our children, and many adults, do not know history or the spiritual warfare that goes on around us all the time. It’s up to us to teach them.
Another problem is a blind faith and believing those in power who say, “Move along, nothing to see here.”
Meanwhile, they are destroying what makes America beautiful.
They are like mold that gets into the wood of a home’s foundation, slowly weakening it over time until the rot crumbles and the foundation gives way.
We need to wake up. We need to teach our children history. We need to teach them about the role models of ministry. We need to introduce them to real heroes who stand up for what’s right, not who social media tells them to revere as “heroes.”
This is a (very, very) short list of books about real heroes:
“The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story” by Hyeonseo Lee
“Never Surrender” by General William Jerry Boykin
“Irresistable Revolution” by Matthew Lohmeier
“Unplanned” by Abby Johnson
“Undaunted” by Christine Cain
Read these books, watch films about their stories. Read the autobiographies mentioned in this article. Read the autobiographies of those who escaped North Korea. I saw an interview with Yoenmi Park the other day. Read her story. It sounds like a dystopian novel, but it is real and it is current. Read “50 Women Every Christian Should Know” by Michelle DeRusha for stories about women throughout history who put their faith first.
Get off social media and read.
And then get on your knees and pray. Join the prayer warriors praying for individual souls and the soul of our nation.
Please share your recommendations for books about real heroes in the comments section.