One of the best things about being a book reviewer is going to your mailbox and finding a package that signals a new book has arrived. Even better is when one arrives unannounced.
Let me take a step back and tell you a little about how book reviewing works. I have a couple of publishing houses that I work with (although I wish it were a lot more), and I get an e-mail every so often that tells me of books coming up and I choose which one on the list I want to read or review. This time was different. One afternoon at the beginning of March, I received a package at my door, and in it was a book from Zondervan, which I have not worked with in the past. I needed a new book for my softball bag, so in it went.
For those who know me, you know I'm a fiction reader. Sometimes I struggle with non-fiction. I used to read non-fiction a lot, but so many times it's so dry or the message has been said so many times before that I have become extremely skeptical, but what the hey! It's a free book. I'll try anything once. :-)
What I found was a pleasant surprise. A Dream So Big is a story of a family's journey past the pain of losing an infant to the dream of impacting a nation of children with no hope. Written with an extremely dry sense of humor, this book takes you through a 10+ year journey in the life of the Peifer family. In this book you will meet Steve and his wife Nancy, his children Matthew, JT, Stephen, Ben, and Katie. You will also meet missionary children at a boarding school in Kenya where the Peifers work and fall in love with thousands of children across the country of Kenya. You will thrill to wild animal sightings (like baboons on the front porch), live dangerously through the precarious roads and drivers in Kenya, and cry at the description of children on the dirt floor of a public school, too weak to sit up because they haven't eaten in three days.
Steve was recognized in 2007 by CNN as a CNN Hero for Championing Children. The video that CNN made for the awards ceremony can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pLQnizF5g4 or at his website kenyadkidscan.org. is organization provides hot lunches to approximately 20,000 kids a day during the school year, and he has gone one step further and helped build solar powered computer labs for these kids.
Steve's witty voice is carried throughout the book with actual e-mails written by Steve to their stateside supporters describing the life as dorm parents at the missionary boarding school. You can't help but laugh at the descriptions of Steve learning to speak Swahili in such a fashion that the teachers are rolling on the floor with laughter.
With everything you will learn about Kenya and being a missionary family, the biggest thing I hope you will gain from reading this book is to not "make peace with the fact that there are hungry children". This statement jumped out at me and kind of slapped me in the face. I had a moment of thought about the kids here in the US that are going hungry, but then God reminded me that these precious little lives are someone's children too. These kids don't have even a fraction of a chance that even the poorest kids here in the U.S. have. Our kids can go to school and get breakfast and lunch for free and have 1 teacher for every 30 kids. They get textbooks and libraries where they can read to their heart's content. They will have access to computers and can achieve anything they want. These Kenyan kids have 1 teacher for several hundred kids. They have little to no textbooks. Their parents have to pay an outrageous sum to send them to public school and then have to provide their school uniform on top of that. There is simply nothing left, and these are the fortunate families. Drop out rates for elementary school kids are over 50%. Corruption and greed are abundant.
This book was a breath of fresh air for me. Bravo to Zondervan for allowing Steve to tell his story and a great job to Gregg Lewis for co-authoring this book. An even bigger thank you to Steve and Nancy Peifer for listening to the still small voice that wouldn't be silenced that allows the lives of so many people to be touched.
If any of my local followers would like to read this book, please leave me a comment. I'd love to start passing this around.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”