Former Marine Robin Duncan has been working private security contracts in some of the world’s most impoverished and corrupt countries. When she takes a job as translator for a multinational company with mining interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she’ll come face-to-face with the ugly side of power, greed and personal interest. But her belief that God, if He is good and won’t stop suffering, exists in such a world will also come front and center.
Jeanette Windle’s newest novel, Congo Dawn, is action-packed and full of hard questions and truths. About God and suffering. Power and humility. Violence and peace. Wealth and poverty. Exploitation and redemption. In her typical fashion, Windle has taken true-to-life scenarios and woven a tale that sheds light on darkness in a corner of the world few of us know much about.
In Robin, Windle has created a complex character. She is hardened by life and loss but motivated by love for her niece with expensive health problems. She takes this job to provide for a necessary surgery that her single-mom sister can’t afford. When she begins to suspect that her employer hasn’t been honest with the team and that their mission is less than honorable, she struggles to justify her continued involvement because of her niece’s need.
Add to the mix, an ex-boyfriend, Michael, who is a medical missionary serving in the DRC. They bump into each other as Robin’s team is trying to cross into the country and later cross paths numerous times as the team sets up camp near the medical clinic. Michael and Robin’s history includes a tour in Afghanistan where Robin’s brother died. They haven’t spoken or seen each other in five years. In addition to sorting through their shared baggage, the two become involved in uncovering Robin’s employer’s true motive for the mission she’s on.
The story is compelling and inspiring. Robin wrestles with questions common to mankind. Why so much suffering? Why injustice? How long will you let this go on, God? Are you even out there? How can good possibly win the battle over evil?
The faith of the Congolese people and those serving with them challenges Robin’s relationship with God. And the overriding theme of the novel is one embraced by humanitarian organizations around the world: “The smallest flame shines brightest against the darkest night.”
Congo Dawn is a book I can’t put down, walk away from and forget. Though a work of fiction, it is based in truth. Wealthy countries exploit impoverished ones. A country rich in natural resources is kept from benefitting from them because of corruption and greed. People–God’s people–suffer daily while I live in comfort. And while I am not called to run off to serve in another country, I want to do something.
The author–who is also a friend–has some suggestions for what to take away from a novel like Congo Dawn.
“I would like readers to close Congo Dawn as well as my other titles with a better understanding of the very complex countries and issues they represent outside safe American borders. Even more so, how vital and interconnected events in the international arena, especially such issues as freedom of worship, speech, human rights, are to our own nations’ future and security. Above all, I want every reader to understand what is the only true source of hope and freedom for any society. Bottom line, when enough individual hearts change from hate to love, cruelty to kindness, greed to selflessness, their society will be transformed as well. Change a heart, change a nation. And how does one change hearts? Hopefully, by the last page of Congo Dawn, the reader will have an answer to that as well!”
In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of Congo Dawn from Tyndale House Publishers through the Tyndale Blog Network.