Michele Phoenix’s Of Stillness and Storm is a must read for anyone considering going into, or already in full time ministry. The book’s primary focus is a family serving as missionaries in a foreign country. However, the sad truths hidden beneath the guise of fiction carry over into the realities of any form of ministry.
The author keeps readers intrigued via smooth transitions between present day circumstances and glimpses into past situations that help shape the situations in which the characters currently find themselves. As the reader gets better acquainted with Sam, Lauren, and their son, Ryan, one cannot help but sense the storm brewing.
Sam is a driven, no holds barred, this is how faith works, no compromise, type of personality. His wife, Lauren, brings softness and provides a different perspective, which sometimes creates tension in the household. While initially both characters are likeable, Sam’s dedication to his calling, at what appears to be the expense of his family, leaves the reader wondering what kind of God would bring such division between a family unit supposedly ordained by him.
Despite living in Nepal, though not by her own choice, isolated and removed from all that’s familiar, Lauren works diligently to adapt to her new life while being a loving wife and attentive mother. And yet there are struggles; her husband is gone three weeks of every month leaving her alone to deal with a sullen teenage son, the administrative burdens of ministry, constant power outages and all other inconveniences correlating to life in a third world country.
Sadly, it is thirteen-year-old Ryan who pays the highest cost for parents’ choices. One cannot help but share Ryan’s pain, when at the tender age of six he is suddenly confronted with leaving everything he’s ever known for the strange land of Nepal. Regrettably, though his father cannot seem to make the connection, the reader easily witnesses the downward spiral of young Ryan from it’s beginning to the shocking conclusion.
Of Stillness and Storm definitely makes one stop to consider the cost. Although not intended to discourage ministry, Of Stillness and Strom serves as a clear warning of the toil ministry can take on a family if one allows priorities to become confused.
A riveting story, the book will keep the reader turning pages long after the acceptable time for lights out.
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**A complimentary copy of the book was provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for this review.