While Chip is vacationing in Hawaii, look for posts from the rest of the MacGregor Literary staff. Not surprisingly, “Favorite Books” is the topic of choice for our crowd of book lovers. Don’t be afraid to chime in with your thoughts on these top picks.
I was about halfway through Randy Alcorn’s novel Safely Home (Tyndale, 2001) when I concluded this book deserved to be on the privileged “best books I’ve ever read and always recommend” shelf. Happily, I’m in good company. Safely Home received the Gold Medallion Book Award and an anniversary edition was released last year.
A persecuted Chinese Christian, Li Quan wakes up with a daily question: Is this the day I die? This concept poked my conscience, even stung. As a Christian living in the freedom-filled USA, I related far more easily to Ben Fielding, the 40-something college-educated corporate ladder-climber whose faith shows only when it is comfortable and convenient; this too was an uncomfortable discovery.
Though I was aware of persecution, Safely Home sheds great light on the struggle Chinese Christians face each day. Li Quan’s father and grandfather were martyred, and he expects the same end for himself. What I take for granted, many have lost their lives for. Can any of us imagine having to ride a bicycle under cover of darkness at 2 am to attend worship service, knowing that at any moment, armed police might threaten jail or beatings? The stories we hear on TV of China “opening up” and of government-run churches don’t describe such situations. And what about the freedom to quietly read the Bible in our own homes?
The man held up the Bible. He put it up to his nose and smelled it. “This is the book of God. Nothing is more precious. Last week I delivered twelve of these to a church of one thousand. Until I arrived, they had only five in the whole church. People offer to pay me a month’s salary for a single Bible. But I get them free and I give them free. I accept only a bed and meals.”
“Is what you do legal?”
“I have gone to jail many times,” the visitor said. “But because I am a foreign citizen, I have a passport. I have always been released. I am forbidden to return. So I must come next time under another name. Li Quan of Hangzhou knows one of my old names. But even he does not know my real name."
“I suppose I can respect what this man has chosen to do,” Ben said. “But like he said, he’ll just be deported. It would be worse for you.”
“Our people are starving for God’s Word,” Quan said. “What kind of a man would I be if I did not feed the hungry?”
“But you could lose your freedom. Or worse."
“An obedient man is free when in prison,” Quan said. “A disobedient man is imprisoned when free.” Ben didn’t like the way Quan looked at him.
"A disciple’s desire is to glorify his Master,” said the [first man]. “There are things more important than staying alive. Yesu’s followers must love him more than their own lives” (p. 118-119).
There are no less than seven Bibles in my home at this very moment. I am rich beyond measure, blessed with liberty to celebrate yesterday that our Savior is risen, and even to write this post today. And were I not a Christian, it would still be a great read—Alcorn’s research on Chinese life and customs is lauded as accurate and insightful. The author skillfully weaves a gripping story with threads of history and persecution which take the reader to critical questions that must be examined.
Pick up a copy of Safely Home and get ready to stay up late as you read to the very last page. And stay tuned for the rest of the week to find out what books we love!
Marie Prys provides administrative support to MacGregor Literary’s agents as well as overseeing contracts and informational databases. She lives in Richmond, VA, with her husband, Jeremy, and four children.