Book Review: The Insanity of God

Anastasis Faith

       This book changed my perspective on my life.
       While I was in Africa, our hostess gave me this book to read. It’s about 320 pages long, but since I really didn’t have much to do each day when I was not on shift with the children, I was able to finish it while I was there.  

The Insanity of God is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, "Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place?  It sure didn't work in Somalia.

Nik recalls that, “God had always been so real to me, to Ruth, and to our boys. But was He enough, for the utter weariness of soul I experienced at that time, in that place, under those circumstances?” It is a question that many have asked and one that, if answered, can lead us to a whole new world of faith.

How does faith survive, let alone flourish in a place like the Middle East? How can Good truly overcome such evil? How do you maintain hope when all is darkness around you? How can we say “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” when it may not be visibly true in that place at that time? How does anyone live an abundant, victorious Christian life in our world’s toughest places? Can Christianity even work outside of Western, dressed-up, ordered nations? If so, how?

The Insanity of God tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure, yet at heart a very human story—of the Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. The gripping, narrative account of a personal pilgrimage into some of the toughest places on earth, combined with sobering and insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, will serve as a powerful course of revelation, growth, and challenge for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.

My thoughts:
       There were two parts to the book—the first was about their relief work in Somalia and the horrific situation there and the second was their journey around the world to the countries in the world that persecuted believers the most. Their question was, “How can faith in Jesus survive in a place like this? Is it possible that a church can be established and kept alive through intense persecution?”
       Their question was answered in dozens of life-changing stories about believers across the world who are suffering intense persecution.
       This book taught me that, no matter what I’m going through, it could always be worse. Not only that, but the opportunities I have in the United States are incredible. We live in one of the only places in the world where we can freely share the gospel without the threat of going to jail or being killed or being forced to watch our families be killed. We actually have Bibles. I have two of them! And I can buy as many as I want! But when Ripken was in China interviewing people, he found out many of the pastors did not have access to a Bible!
       Another huge thing that hit me while I was reading this book was one of the things a Chinese pastor said. He said, “You can only bring into persecution what you already have.” In other words, you’re not going to magically remember Scripture you didn’t memorize. You’re not going to remember hymns you never learned. What you take with you into persecution is what you have before persecution. While we are living in a free country, we need to be packing our minds to overflowing with Scripture.
       Finally, Ripken said something very powerful toward the end of the book. I would give a direct quote and cite it, but I left the book in Africa. ;) Basically, if you are not being persecuted, then you are not sharing the gospel of Jesus. Jesus’ gospel is offensive, and people will hate you for it. So if people are not hating you and persecuting you, then you are not sharing His gospel.
       Wow, that’s convicting for me.
       This book helped me so much in my Christian walk and convicted me of a lot of weaknesses in my life. I would highly recommend this book. It starts out slow, and yes, it’s a big book, but oh you will not regret it. I cried through many parts of it.

Sexual content:
       There were mentions of women being abused in the terrible conditions of Somalia, but there is nothing explicit. There was nothing besides that.

What I didn’t like:
       The beginning was slow. It took a little while to get into it, but the farther you go into the book, the better it gets.

Final Thoughts:
       That’s it.

Have you heard of this book? Do you plan on reading it? Any other really convicting and powerful books that you’ve read? Share in the comments!

5 Lessons I Learned in Africa

Anastasis Faith

UPDATE: If you would like to see more pictures of the children (where you can see their faces), leave a comment with your email, or message me through the comment form at the bottom of the page and leave your email. For security, I cannot post any pictures of the children's faces.


Two Fridays ago, after close to twenty-four hours on a plane, I got back home from my trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.
I was volunteering at a baby home. We had five children total—all of whom had been abandoned. The stories were heartbreaking.

Two of the children had been abandoned in a field as newborns. One of which was at least eight weeks premature. Two others were taken by the government because of unsafe conditions in their homes. The last one—a tiny premature newborn only three weeks old—was left at the hospital by his prostitute mother who wanted to keep her sinful habits instead of her child.

There were so many things I learned while I was in Africa. I definitely cannot make a complete, exhaustive list in this one blog post. Perhaps there might be another one in the future, as I continue to process all that I learned there, but for now, these are a few of the lessons I learned while I was there.

1.      I am blessed

It definitely gives you a perspective on your blessings when you see the level of poverty in another country. South Africa is, as someone put it, the “America” of Africa—yet it is still a disaster. Once we drove by a “squatter village,” which is like a shanty town, but worse. The shacks could be made of cardboard, it was so poor.

I was born into a loving, American family with two parents. The children that I cared for day after day were abandoned. Two of them, as I said, were left in a field. It’s one thing to leave a baby somewhere where they will be found. It’s another thing to leave them in a field to die. It was only by God’s mercy that they survived and were found. 

2.     The value of a simple life

I went from a 90 mph life to a very simple, restful place. Now, for the people living there it was very crazy and hectic. Typical fast paced life for them. For me, however, I was just helping out with the kids, and working on homework or reading the 300-page book someone loaned me. I had time to think, pray, meditate on Scripture and the things I was learning. It was peaceful and it was restful. There is such a value—a pricelessness—of living in simplicity. Day to day routine was made glorious through the extra time I had each day to spend with the Lord.

3.     How precious the little things are

I would give anything right now to have one of those children on my lap right now. The girl would probably talk my ear off about something. The oldest little boy would probably last about five seconds before he was up and chasing after something else. The middle boy would contentedly snuggle up with me. The youngest actually probably wouldn’t even sit in my lap! And the new baby that we got would make me laugh with his funny expressions as he explored his new world.
I miss them teasing me and calling me “Hannah” instead of “Anna.” I miss their little giggles and the games we would play. The little things are the things I miss the most. Like when I was saying goodnight to them and one wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed me on the cheek and told me he loved me. When you only have two weeks with five precious little children, you learn to treasure every moment—because every moment in this fleeting life is a joy.

4.    The safety we have in America is a privilege

I stayed in an apartment—or flat, as they called it—that was attached to the house. Every morning, to get from my room to the house, I had to unlock five doors. My roommate had been held up at gunpoint right outside of the gate. In fact, in Johannesburg, it is so unsafe that there were not many single shops or facilities. Everything was inside something else. We went bowling one night, and the bowling alley was inside of a casino, along with many restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

The safety we experience in America is a privilege, and something we should NEVER take advantage of.  

5.     My biggest problems are so small

The sign on the pole reads, "Abortion."
Under it is a phone number.
These signs were everywhere. Abortion is
more rampant in South Africa than America.
I was not abandoned in a field as a newborn. I am not being raised in a squatter village. I do not live in a place where it is unsafe to go anywhere alone.

Soon I plan on posting about how, the day I got back from Africa, my purse and phone were stolen and the things I learned through that. But during that whole big fiasco, I kept thinking, “If my biggest problem is a stolen purse and phone, then I am very blessed.”

The truth is, someone is always suffering more than I am. I am SO blessed.

My African experience was life changing, to be honest. I pray God keeps continuing to teach me these lessons, and the others that I learned so that I do not forget. If any of you get a chance to go overseas, definitely take it. I did not want to go to Africa in the first place, but I am beyond thankful for it. And if you have the opportunity to work at an orphanage, DEFINITELY go for it. ;)

Have you ever been overseas? Have you been on a mission trip? Share in the comments!

Africa Trip

Anastasis Faith
Howdy everybody!

This is just to let you know that I'm in Africa and probably will not get another blog post out until either the 12th or 19th.

Thanks for your patience! :)

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