Thursday, May 28, 2009

It Began with a Parachute

It Began With a Parachute, by William R. Rang
(Inheritance Publications, 2000), pb., 93 pp.
Ages 6+

This story takes place in occupied Holland during World War II. Twelve year old Bert takes it upon himself to help an Allied airman who is shot down near his town and in the process discovers that his parents are deeply involved in the Dutch resistance. This is a well told story of courage, suffering, perseverance, hope and faith.

While this book is not as nuanced or rich as one of Douglas Bond’s it has many of the basic staple characteristics, including a strong father who leads his family through difficult times showing how to stand for and risk oneself for what is right. The interaction of the main family, their connection to other involved families and the contrast with the traitors provides good pictures as you read to your children. Also, the faith of the main characters is no mere side issue but an essential element of life.

This book also provides a compelling picture of what it was like to live under Nazi occupation, with the intimidation, the shortages and the yearning for deliverance. It also shows how people had to make difficult choices between capitulating, doing nothing or taking the enormous risk of opposing the evil around them.

We all enjoyed this book and commend it to you.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Missions with Children

This past Sunday night the children at our church shared with the rest of the congregation what they have been learning on Sunday nights over the last year. On Sunday nights the adults have a prayer meeting. The children then also pray, work on scripture memory and are systematically working through the countries of the world, learning where they are, what life is like there (particularly access to the gospel) and how they can pray for each nation. Over this past year they covered Africa and learned all the countries of Africa using some catchy songs arranged by region. The children sang these songs and college students who worked with the children read of key prayer requests for each region. They also sang a portion of Psalm 119 which they had learned. We concluded by praying for some of those requests.

It was a moving evening hearing all they had learned and being reminded of the needs in other places. To me the most moving part was hearing the children sing, “How Sweet and Awful.” My wife, who organizes our children’s ministry, taught them this powerful hymn and it summarizes well the missions emphasis. One of the parents caught a portion of the singing on video (I could not figure out how to embed it here).

Here are the words of the hymn:
How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
"Lord, why was I a guest?"
"Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there's room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?"

'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God,
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May, with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace
- Isaac Watts

(Note: All these photos and the videos were taken by Sarah Ellsworth)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Summer

‘Twas the Night Before Summer
By Anne Margaret Lewis
Illustrated by Wendy Popko
(Mackinac Island Press)

My mother pointed this book out to me, sending me a web link where the full book could be viewed online. The story is not a deep or theological one, but is a fun tribute to summer and imagination. It is obviously framed in the line of “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and is a poem. It is nicely written and illustrated.

I think my main point in mentioning it here, though, is the web delivery system. By clicking on the page you can turn the page and keep reading. It is well done.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Lonely Sentinel

The Lonely Sentinel, by Piet Prins
The Shadow Series, volume 1
(Inheritance Publications, 2006), pb., 140 pp.
Ages 6+

Since we had previously enjoyed the Struggle for Freedom series by Prins, I eagerly anticipated this book as well. This book is set in the Netherlands during World War II following the efforts of the Dutch resistance. The main characters are the Mulders family, particularly Frans (a sixth grader) and Dirk (a fourth grader). Their father runs a mill with the help of their older brother Dries. The family stumbles into the work of the Dutch resistance and begins helping Jews and others escape the Nazis. Eventually Dries also engages in a raid with other members of the resistance.

The action and suspense is seen primarily from the perspective of the young boys, which makes it all the more appealing to my young boys! It also helps the reader to enter into the risk of helping people in need during this time. It is easy to sense that it would be right to help. It is more helpful to also feel how challenging this must have been knowing you were risking not only your own life, but those of your family as well.

This book shares the same strengths as the other books from Prins which we have read. The Christian faith of the characters is real and integral to their lives (not some occasional “add on”). Also there is good adventure and suspense. It also shares some of the weaknesses of the other books. It is clearly a translation and at places the wording is awkward. At other times the wording is unclear. For example the people fleeing the Nazis are repeatedly referred to as “divers” but I have no idea why.

In the end this is a good book to read while studying World War II. It is good to hear about the event from a perspective outside the US; there is good adventure; and Christian faith features well.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Raising Bible Saturated Kids!

David and Sally Michael, from Children Desiring God, recently led three breakout sessions on leading children in Bible Study as part of the "Word Within the Word" conference at Union University.

Too often the importance of teaching our children well is missed by both families and churches. The Michael’s passion is to change this. These are well worth listening to for pastors, children’s teachers, parents, grand-parents, and anyone concerned with children.

Session 1- God-Centered Bible Teaching for the Glory of God
Session 2- Raising Bible-Saturated Children
Session 3- Aiming for Application and Response in Teaching Children the Bible

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Reformation Heroes

Reformation Heroes, by Diana Kleyn with Joel Beeke
(Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), hb., 240 pp.
Ages 6+

I have been meaning to comment on this book for some time. It is an amazing resource- the most thorough book for children on this topic that I know of. It is based on a 19th century book, The Reformation and Its Heroes, by Richard Newton. I have commented on a number of books on characters from the Reformation here because the Reformation is one key area of history with which I want my children to be well acquainted. If you feel the same, this book is a must have.

It is not difficult to find books on Luther or Calvin, or even Wycliffe, but the comprehensiveness of this book is amazing. It covers precursors to the Reformation, English, German, French, and Dutch Reformers Anabaptists and the Catholic response. Here is a list of the people and events discussed in the book:

Peter Waldo
John Wycliffe
Anne of Bohemia
John Huss
Martin Luther
Philip Melanchthon
The Protest at Speyer
Martin Bucer
Ulrich Zwingli
Heinrich Bullinger
William Tyndale
Edward VI
Thomas Cranmer
Hugh Latimer
Nicholas Ridley
John Foxe
John Knox
Guido de Brès
The Heidelberg Catechism
Caspar Olevianus
Zacharias Ursinus
Frederick III
Peter Martyr Vermigli
John Calvin
Theodore Beza
Jan Laski
The Duke of Alva
William, Prince of Orange
Petrus Dathenus
Quenn Marguerite of Navarre
Queen Jeanne d’Albret of Navarre
Admiral Coligny & the tragedy of St. Bartholomew’s Day
Charlotte, the Nun of Jouarre
William Perkins
William Ames
William Teelnick
Konrad Grebel
Felix Manz
Ludwig Hätzer
Gerog Blaurock
Thomas Müntzer
Jan Mattjis
Jan Beukelssen
Melchior Hoffman
Jakob Hutter
Balthasar Hubmaier
Menno Simons
The Counter Reformation

I consider myself fairly well informed on the Reformation, but there are names on this list that I did now know before this book! The stories are well told and nicely illustrated. I heartily recommend this book.

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