Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When the Morning Came

When the Morning Came, by Piet Prins
Struggle For Freedom Series 1
(Neerlandia, Canada: Inheritance Publications, 1989), pb. 158 pp.
Trans from original Dutch

I was greatly and pleasantly surprised by this book. The combination of our previous experience with translations from Dutch, little experience with this publisher and being a bit behind schedule, I almost skipped this book. My boys and I, however, are very glad I did not. This is an excellent book on many accounts. It is the best book we have read in connection with the history of the Reformation. I have commended other books sometimes commenting that they were not exactly great stories, but they got the point across. This book, however, would be a great story even if it did not also communicate important truths. It rises just about to the level of the Allen French novels which are among our favorites. I have been amazed at how good this book is.

The story is set in late 16th century Netherlands during the persecution of Reformed Christians. Martin, the main character, is a 12 year old boy whose family gets caught up in the persecution. Separated from his parents who have been arrested for their faith, Martin and Boudewyn, the brave, strong blacksmith, make daring rescue attempts, and must risk a harrowing flight for freedom across lands hostile to their faith hoping to reunite with Martin’s parents.

The first kudos to this book come simply because it is a compelling story. So many books fail at this point being merely sufficient stories and conveying a good point. This one though was compelling. I found myself on edge waiting to see what would happen next. The author masterfully moves from adventure to adventure. This was certainly an action-packed tale. Quite often adults can see where things are going in these stories, but I was kept guessing in this one.

Secondly, there is a good presentation of the faith here in various ways. On the one hand, in the midst of the action, the characters are ever mindful of their reliance on God and pray regularly for His aid. Often in action-packed stories this is missing. Or, if it is not missing, it is presented in an awkward or cheesy way. In this book it came out very naturally which then provided a good example for my boys and provided a platform for good discussion. The characters brave many dangers and are able to do so clearly because they believe God is in control. If God wills he can deliver them, and if not they will go down bravely. This is the sturdy stuff I want to put before my boys.

Developing the second point further, the key characters here are real men (it does seem to be targeted primarily at boys). These Christians are not the weak-kneed sort so often presented in our culture. Martin’s Dad hides a seller of Protestant tracts knowing the danger and then refuses to give him up in spite of the fact that it will likely cost him and his wife their lives. At the same time they will not lie to save themselves. Boudewyn is a blacksmith who knows the Bible well and shares it freely and boldly. He is also a giant of a man who takes on large groups of the enemy when they come against Boudewyn, Martin and company. Since he has no wife or children Boudewyn will be the last man behind so that the others may escape. Then there is Hinne the hunter, Frank Abels the sailor and others. This element again comes across naturally and not forced.

There is even a conversion account. It is not the pre-packaged sort however. It simply comes as Boudewyn boldly asserts the place of Scripture and reads it. Another man then begins to read the Bible and eventually finds himself believing the truths found there, trusting God, and being freed of his bitterness towards his persecutors.

Lastly, the suffering of the people of God is clearly presented. This book probably communicated this more effectively to my boys than any of the other Reformation books we have read so far. Our prayer after reading often dealt with thanksgiving for our religious freedom, our access to the Scripture, and our local church.

We strongly recommend this book. This is not one to endure but one to relish. The inside cover of this book suggests this was to be part one of five. We have volume two and have eagerly begun reading it already. Apparently volume three is also available, but I have not found so far any evidence that volumes four and five ever appeared. Apparently Piet Prins is now deceased. He created a great story in this one, one that even comes through well in the translation.

Update: I just received word from the publisher that vol. 3 is inded available and volume 4 is expected to be available in April 2008.


At 3:37 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

What is a good age to read this book to? I have an almost 5 yr. old son but I wonder if it might be to old for him.

Thanks for this great site!

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks for the encouraging words.
It probably would be a bit much for an almost 5 yr old. My 6 year old really liked but he has been brought along by having 2 brothers older than him.
This may be one to buy for later. :)

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Shep Shepherd said...

I don't think I have read this book. I really want to check it out now. Thanks for the review!

God bless,

A. Shepherd
The Aspiring Theologian

At 7:08 AM, Blogger John Foxe said...

We are now on the third book in this excellent series. Tremendous tales of courage and faith with history woven in. Great Sunday afternoon reading with the family. And even better Inheritance have plenty more books by Piet Prins who edited a Dutch Reformed daily newspaper for many years.

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks for your comment, John. Yes, we enjoyed several more of the book by Prins.


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