This was an especially interesting read for me because I had just finished In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord. While that one was fascinating in its own way—it really gave an inside look at Middle Eastern culture and helped me understand why Christ used parables, for instance—that book focuses on a Christian aid worker and how, in the course of her humanitarian work, she attempted to teach Muslim women to apply Christian concepts and principles whether or not they became believers in Christ as Savior. This book was much more focused on the radical, life-changing power of Christ when Muslim women put their faith in him—not just having a better life, but truly being changed from the inside out.
It was challenging and inspiring to see the change that happened in these women. Some of my favorite stories included a mother who came to Christ because of the change in her daughter, even though she was outwardly abusing and raging at her daughter for her faith, and a woman who became interested in Christianity because our Bible honors Hagar by saying God truly saw her (the Quran barely mentions Hagar even though she’s the mother of Ishmael, the father of Muslim nations). I would never have looked at the story of Hagar in Genesis and thought God would use that part of the Bible to bring someone to faith in Christ, so that really caught my attention.
I don’t believe dreams or visions are God’s chosen method of revelation as a rule; his Word fills that role and fills it well. However, it’s common for Muslims to experience vivid dreams that make them want to find out who Jesus is. This book reflects that well—in every case where a dream got someone’s attention, it was faith in Christ that ultimately saved him or her. The results of the dreams were in line with biblical teaching, and I find it so encouraging and awe-inspiring to see how God shows himself real in places his Word might otherwise never gain access.
The boldness and faith of these women is a challenge to me, especially when I pause to realize that most if not all of them are still alive and in these very situations today. The interviews between chapters reinforce that truth. It was only a few years ago that thousands of secret believers gathered in Mecca. The conflicts some of these women lived in, such as the attacks of Hamas on Israel, are ongoing. It’s a front-row view of what’s happening in the Middle East, but it’s also a front-row view of what Christian women are experiencing in other countries right now. I want to be more aware of that and quicker to pray.
The messages of this book are outstanding. My only quibble is with the presentation. A lot of the stories feel as if they’re written in a sensationalized style, and the “feel” is very American. The situations are certainly very Middle Eastern, but the narrative didn’t give me the sense of being immersed in another culture the way In the Land of Blue Burqas did. These stories are gripping enough on their own. They don’t need sensationalism to make them more so.
Some of the situations are difficult to read, so I recommend this for mature readers, but it’s a wonderful book to be challenged and encouraged by if you want to know how Christ can transform lives in hard places.