Sunday, September 22, 2013

"safely home" by randy alcorn

About the book (from Amazon): Is this the day I die? Li Quan asks himself this question daily, knowing that he might be killed for practicing his faith. American businessman Ben Fielding has no idea what his brilliant former college roommate is facing in China. He expects his old friend has fulfilled his dream of becoming a university professor. But when they are reunited in China after twenty years, both men are shocked at what they discover about each other. Thrown together in an hour of encroaching darkness, both must make choices that will determine not only the destinies of two men, but two families, two nations, and two worlds.

My take: I first read Safely Home about five years ago on the recommendation of my sister. I thought it was a great story, and I even added it to my list of books I highly recommend to those who visit this blog. When my book club picked Safely Home as its August book, I was pretty excited. I didn't remember much of the plot beyond the basics, so I welcomed the chance to read the book again.

Now that I've read it again, I'd say I didn't like it quite as much as I did the first time. If you'd asked me then, I would have given it an enthusiastic 5 stars. But when we discussed it at book club a few weeks ago, I gave it a solid 4. Here's why:
  1. The book has a great plot. It shows persecution in a way that we in America haven't ever seen, and it opens the reader's eyes to the world outside of the American Christian bubble. I would definitely give the story five stars.
  2. Alcorn's description of heaven is nice. But I'm not sure that it's accurate. It may be—I know I certainly haven't studied heaven as much as Alcorn has. But, as one of the ladies in my book club mentioned, I think it might be dangerous to present it as, "This is what heaven is like." (Yes, I know that this is fiction, but the "earthly" story is presented based on real facts, so the "heavenly" portion also feels like it should be real.)
  3. When I first read the book, I wasn't used to analyzing how a book was written ... I just paid attention to the story. But this time, with more than 200 book reviews under my belt, a few things struck me. First of all, the conversation often feels stilted. Alcorn weaves in lots of important facts about the persecuted church, mostly through dialog between Quan and Ben. Often when Quan throws out a fact, it doesn't seem like it would naturally flow from the conversation—it's like Alcorn had the facts he wanted to get across and then wrote the dialog around them. Also, there are long sections of Scripture in the book. That's fine, but when you have nearly a page of Bible verses, you either get pulled out of the story, or you start skipping over the verses and going back to the story. Either way, it doesn't make for a great reading experience.
I still would recommend that Christians read Safely Home, as it brings the persecuted church to life; expect a great story, but not a great literary experience.

My rating: 4 stars

Buy the book. 
About the author: Randy Alcorn is an author and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM), a nonprofit ministry dedicated to teaching principles of God's Word and assisting the church in ministering to the unreached, unfed, unborn, uneducated, unreconciled, and unsupported people around the world. His ministry focus is communicating the strategic importance of using our earthly time, money, possessions and opportunities to invest in need-meeting ministries that count for eternity. He accomplishes this by analyzing, teaching, and applying the biblical truth.

Before starting EPM in 1990, Randy served as a pastor for fourteen years. He has an MA degree in Biblical Studies from Multnomah University and an Honorary Doctorate from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and has taught on the adjunct faculties of both.

A New York Times bestselling author, Randy has written more than forty books, including Courageous, Heaven, The Treasure Principle, and the Gold Medallion winner Safely Home. His books in print exceed seven million and have been translated into over fifty languages. Randy has written for many magazines including EPM's issues-oriented magazine Eternal Perspectives. He is active daily on Facebook and Twitter, has been a guest on more than 700 radio, television and online programs including Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Revive Our Hearts, The Bible Answer Man, and The Resurgence.

Randy resides in Gresham, Oregon, with his wife, Nanci. They have two married daughters and are the proud grandparents of five grandsons. Randy enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research, and reading.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book myself and reviewed it of my own accord. I was not compensated in any way. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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