In the introduction, Deborah Meroff warns that this book may disturb you. It did that to me.
There are only nine stories, but each is followed by some pages of facts about the type of situation that over-coming woman dealt with. These are eye-popping. One might even say the statistics are over-whelming.
For instance, the first story is of Katheryn, born profoundly deaf in Israel, then gaining some hearing through the prayers of Christians, only to lose her hearing again. At the end of this chapter are plenty of statistics about the numbers of hearing impaired in various countries, the problems of abused deaf women and the common causes of death during pregnancy and childbirth.
The next story is of a poor girl who grew up to be a business woman, and went to Nepal as a missionary, where her business skills led to her setting up employment for abused women, who were really child brides, and very young. Her business sheltered them and allowed her to train them, and teach them the Bible. This chapter is followed by six pages of statistics on child labour in various countries.
Not all the Vital Statistics sections matched (in my mind) the story they followed, so I got the sense that the stories might be in this book to draw readers in to discover the ugly truth of some things we might prefer not to read about. Things like domestic violence, female infanticide, girl soldiers, life expectancy, honour killings in Muslim countries, child brides, bride selling, and bride burning! Yes, these things all happen! Today!
We westerners may think we know all about poverty, refugees, or if we're very informed, even about trafficking in slaves. I discovered that I didn't know it all after all. This book was a real eye-opener, and didn't really cheer me up. But I know it was good for me to read it.
When faced with impossible injustices like these, it is easy to turn my face, and say or think, "But I'm helpless to do anything about it!" However, I feel Meroff intended for us to take heart from the stories of the women, who found themselves right in the midst of such misery and tremendous limitations; they pressed on, they persevered, and in the end they made a difference in some lives. Especially their own. Meroff says they were not chosen because they were superstars, but as ordinary women who took on challenges and did as much as they could.
That's all that the Lord asks of anyone of us. If we yoke up with Him, He will pull the greater weight, and we will find in the end, that we have made some difference. Which may turn out to the a matter of life and death to many.
With my vivid imagination, I am able to visualize some exciting ministries I love to start if I had the resources. The danger here is to lay the book aside with a sigh, thinking I'll do something when the resources show up. But then I'll forget and end up doing nothing at all as I busy myself with work at hand. I am still pondering what concrete actions to take so this challenge will not be wasted.
In the meantime, I am taking this one small step, by telling you right here and now about this book, and urging you to read it. Not because it will make you feel good, or allow you a vicarious romance and adventure. Instead, because you need to know the truth too, and to ask God what you should do about these huge problems - mostly for women and children - around the world.
If all you accomplish is a change in your own life, and home, or on your street, God will cheer you on, and reward you!