Beaded Hope arrived in my mailbox months ago and I was immediately intrigued with it. However, I set it aside to read until closer to the release date (March, 2010). I knew I was going to like it. I just didn't know I was going to love it.
Author Cathy Liggett is another author building confidence in me towards Christian fiction. It's not a secret around these parts that I'm not a really big fan of Christian fiction because I think it's either written poorly or doesn't involve the use enough imagination. Liggett writes a unique story about a unique ministry in South Africa, also called Beaded Hope. (Click on that link to be taken to the Beaded Hope Ministry site.) This ministry is devoted to giving the women of South Africa, frequently suffering from HIV, the opportunity to earn income for their families by creating pieces of bead work to sell. Liggett tells their story in the form of a work of fiction and I think it is brilliantly done.
This is the story of changed lives. It is a story of hope and faith in the truest sense. Redemption is weaved in and out of the book - such that by the end of it I was reduced to tears. (Actually, I'm not kidding about that. I finished reading the last few chapters of this book in Starbucks and was sitting there fighting back a flood of tears that were threatening to spill out all over me and the table I was sitting at. But there was this elderly Indian gentleman sitting in front of me and I didn't want to completely startle him. Besides, he looked like he was enjoying his coffee.)
Beaded Hope tells us the personal life stories of four women: Gabby (who is suffering from infertility), Heidi and her step-daughter, Katie (struggling with their own issues, including a pregnancy), and Cassandra (a news reporter who is aging and fading from the public spotlight and resents that fact). Each woman is struggling with her own life issues and personal histories. They each have a completely different reason for wanting to "escape" on a mission trip to South Africa. Each in their own way want to get away from some aspect of their lives in the mid-western United States. Rather selfishly, they go to South Africa to "do good" and their lives are challenged and changed in ways that they would not have been able to imagine if they had tried.
Even in writing the above paragraph, I realize that I'm sounding like an advertisement and I really don't want to be that for this book. Being that this is a book review, I do need to tell you what it is about. At the same time, I think that the messages contained in this book are greater and more important than the storyline. Liggett writes in such a manner as to not jar you away from the message at any moment in time. Your gut is wrenched mercilessly, time and time again, as you spend individual chapters with the individual women. I read this book in two sittings because I ached to know how their stories were going to turn out.
Some of the issues faced by Gabby, Heidi, Katie and Cassandra hit remarkably closed to home (hence the tears in Starbucks). These women suffered from the same dillusions that many of the rest of us do - that we can overcome our own problems and go do great things for others. In acting that way, we overlook one minor factor: God. We don't overcome anything on our own. He overcomes it for us. He already did the work of conquering death, our sins and our past histories. It was all about this:
As a result, He can take our broken selves and use them for His glory. It's not about us. It's all about Him. When we think we are doing good, we discover our limits. When we open ourselves up to be used in whatever manner or method He calls us to - all we have to do is be faithfully obedient to what He has called us to, individually, and He can do more than we could ever think possible. And that is what this book is all about - God making impossible things, possible.
Well written, engaging and completely captivating, I couldn't not recommend this book. I think it's amazing and so I'd say "Check it out!"
THIS POST ORIGINALLY POSTED AS A GIVEAWAY. THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
In the meantime, I'd encourage you to go to the author's website and read more about Cathy Liggett. That's the most interesting "about" section of an author that I think I've ever read!