Shining a light on persecution: Review of Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

First day of summer means summer reading is in full swing. The Tyndale Summer Reading Program is back this summer. If you like to read and want to earn free books for reading and reviewing this summer, check out the program and reading list.

The 10th anniversary release of Safely Home by Randy Alcorn is one of the fiction choices on the list. I hadn’t read this book before, and its theme of Christian persecution in China intrigued me.

In the book, an American businessman and a Chinese Christian who once were roommates at Harvard are reunited in China after 20 years. The businessman’s life and faith have disintegrated despite the appearance of success while the Chinese man’s faith has flourished despite poverty, oppression and dashed dreams.

I appreciated the message of this story, especially the accounts of what Christianity is like in China. Underground churches meeting in the middle of the night. Believers being arrested for possessing Bibles or teaching spiritual truths to minors. Christians loving Jesus more than their lives. Humbling, convicting, challenging stuff. The businessman’s idea of faith, success and government are overturned by his experiences in China with his roommate. It’s a moving story that reminds me that how I practice my faith is not the same way it is practiced around the world. And being an American is not the same as being a Christian. 

The method of the story was not always palatable. Sometimes the dialogue felt forced and the plot seemed to get stuck. I’ve not read Alcorn before so I don’t know if this is his usual style of storytelling or not. The book’s worth it for the light it shines on persecution of Christians worldwide.

FAVORITES: Alcorn’s accounts of the underground church and life in China are credible. He lists the books that aided his research, and I’m eager to learn more.

FAULTS: Some of the story is told from the point of view of heaven — from family members who had died, angels and Jesus. Frank Peretti employs this POV in books like This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. I think Peretti does it better. Maybe that’s not fair to Alcorn but I just didn’t feel like it worked in this story. Maybe I’ll re-read Peretti and see if I feel the same way.

IN A WORD: Informative. I’ll miss out on something great, though, if I leave it at knowledge only. I’m praying that this story moves me to action.

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