Friday, November 17, 2006

Review: Ships of Mercy

Ships of Mercy by Don Stephens is a difficult book to review in that, while this isn't exactly the most literary effort I've read, the stories that are conveyed about the amazing work of Mercy Ships will stir your heart and bring tears to your eyes.

Don Stephens is the founder of Mercy Ships International who passionately followed up on an idea he had at the age of 19 while on a missions trip to the Caribbean. After weathering a hurricane that hit the Bahamas, Stephens heard one local survivor ask, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a ship with doctors and nurses that could come in after such a disaster?" That is how the kernel of a dream was planted.

I've only recently come to hear of Mercy Ships but I have come to respect this organization as much as any other out there. The concept of a ship full of people, from line cooks right up to some of the world's top surgeons, volunteering their time to help those who have no access to proper medical care is astounding. In 2004 Mercy Ships celebrated their 25th year serving the world's poor from their floating hospitals that travel the globe. They have performed more than two million services with a value of over $250 million while not asking for a penny in return from those they have helped.

This book provides the reader with the history of Mercy Ships from the man who has been there right from the beginning. It was Don Stephens' dream to share the love of Christ in a practical way and Mercy Ships remains true to its original mission to this day. Check out their website for more information and for some remarkable photos of people who have regained their lives and their dignity after Mercy Ships came to town. You can also check out the blog of photographer Scott Harrison who is volunteering on board the Mercy Ship Anastasis as well as some of his photographs that have traveling the U.S. as part of the Mercy exhibition. A warning though...some of these images are very disturbing.

Pick up this book if you have an interest in aid & justice issues, an interest in medicine, or just a good read about the power of following your dreams. 5/5

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Review: Squat

I used to read a ton of fiction when I was younger, but I've found lately that not a lot of fiction really grabs my interest unless it has a really unique story line or is written from an interesting, almost quirky perspective. I picked up Squat for that very reason...A story written from the perspective of a group of homeless friends that takes place over a 24-hour period.

All I can say is WOW, am I ever glad I picked this up! Yes it's unique. Yes it's quirky. But more than that, it will give you an entirely new perspective of life on the streets that will make you look differently at the next person you meet on the sidewalk begging for your loose change.

Author Taylor Field works with the homeless at Graffiti Community Ministries in New York City and has previously published a non-fiction book called Mercy Streets that won Outreach magazine's best outreach resource of 2003 award in the Biography category. This guy knows what he is talking about and he knows his subject matter personally. Field's intimate knowledge of street life helps us see life from a street person's perspective. It takes us through a day in the life...To walk in their shoes, and to understand that, while it is not a choice that has been made willingly, those on the street have emotions, friendships, and concerns just like the rest of us. I highly recommend this book! 5/5

Check out the Squat website for a podcast, chapter samples, and author information.

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