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The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith…

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected

by Nik Ripken

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Firstly, I need to address the title--it is irreverent. But it is worse than that, in an article defending the choice of title the author writes that God GAVE him the title after much prayer and consideration. God is apparently therefore referring to Himself as insane. But, the author argues, it is not God Himself that is insane but some of His methods and decisions. He also considered "The foolishness of God," which may have been worse, in my opinion. I believe that the author is forgetting that God Himself inspired the use of the word foolishness in the Bible--if God wants to use the word about Himself then that is clearly a matter for God. But, should we really be using words like this to describe God when we need a mediator even to approach Him due to His holiness? It is just symptomatic of the modern church which seeks to place God the Father on our level so that we can relate better to Him. God is not our buddy or mate, He is our Heavenly Father. We should have respect and awe in His presence.

Moving on to the story itself. As a novel it held my attention. The details are interesting and enough detail is given for the reader to be able to relate. The book is really divided into two sections. The first section details the terrible experiences the author had whilst working in Somalia during the war. The author and his wife believed they were called to be missionaries and set off in obedience to their call but somehow ended up working for an aid organisation where they were unable to share the Gospel at all without putting themselves at serious risk.

I have read some criticism of the author for not sharing the Gospel with those who were dying. This is a difficult issue--it seemed to me that there may have been situations where the Gospel could've been shared from the author's descriptions of events. He was traveling alone or with one or two others to remote villages where people were starving to death. His job was to report the situation to his organisation for future assistance. However, many of these people starved during the wait and some villages had to be abandoned as they were impossible to reach with the aid. I don't think it is fair to judge the author as it is not something that he had planned for and he had to consider the requirements of his organisation. However, I can understand why he ended up in despair and wondered whether the work had achieved anything because sadly the answer is "not really." Some people's lives were sustained for a bit longer but spiritually they were still destitute. It sounds as if the author suffered from some form of PTSD--he describes the type of horror that I'm sure those who have served in the armed forces have seen.

The author then lost one of his children to an illness. His family returned from the mission field at this point with serious questions about their callings and their faith, understandably so. It was at this point that they really needed wise counsel, support and encouragement.

Somehow, the author's conclusion was that the great Commission was impossible in countries where Christians are persecuted. He re-configured God's instructions and decided that instead of telling people about Jesus in these countries and taking the consequence, he would embark on a research project for 2 years. He would travel alone to countries where Christians are persecuted, interview people and then consider the findings of his research. After what he had been through in Somalia and with the death of his son, this may have been a sensible course at the time and for the 2 year period. But, surely the end purpose should have been to work out how it would be possible to effectively share the Gospel with people in these countries.

Unfortunately, the author never reaches the stage of actually sharing the Gospel because he continues traveling and collecting stories for the rest of his active ministry. He writes books and makes films and apparently attempts to patent (copyright) a concept called Heartsongs. This is the practice of lifting up praise to God under persecution. He discovered this practice during his research and for some reason decided to patent it!?

I feel sad about what has happened here. The rest of the book (part two) is full of almost unbelievable tales from various countries. Tales of the miraculous and supernatural which appear to me to have been embellished. Tales of God speaking personally to people and visitations by Jesus. BUT they are all third hand and none of them verifiable because the author waited for 15 years before publishing his book. This, due to the possibility of those he had interviewed being at risk, even though he changed names. None of these stories were really unique as similar stories can be found in a number of biographies from missionaries who were sharing the Gospel in these countries hence the background believers in the first place and the existence of the Underground Church.

I found his observations and treatment of the Asian cultures cringeworthy in places as he told the Chinese believers off for allowing him to visit thereby placing themselves in danger. He gives them advice for the future as if he is the one and only expert. He also rebukes an entire group of persecuted Pastors who had appealed for foreign aid after he had asked them what he could do to help....he tells this story as if God Himself placed the words in his mouth but I find that unlikely because his response was neither loving nor gracious in the circumstances.

On Amazon.com he is described as "the world's leading expert on the persecuted church"....I wonder if this is a title that he has given himself and how that can be realistically assessed. He certainly seems to be making a name for himself due to his extensive research. That fact alone is probably at the root of my irritation--it comes across in the provocative title, the sensationalised stories, the use of dramatic language and the suggestion that he tried to copyright/patent a concept he discovered during his research. I only picked the book up due to the forward by David Platt--the title would have put me off otherwise.

For those who have been inspired by the author's stories and these books--and there are many people, I have read numerous 5 star reviews. I would just ask the question, what have you been inspired to actually do? Pray more--great. Give more--also a good idea. Go and obey the Great Commission--probably not as the author has said it is impossible in these countries. He suggests research instead. Personally, I believe we should stick to the Bible and share the Gospel where God leads us to go. Learning and being adequately prepared is only helpful if we actually do something with it.

This book is clean, free of bad language and sexual content. There are some descriptions of violence.

( )
  sparkleandchico | Jun 2, 2017 |
I hate how skeptical I can be of anecdotal stories. I found myself battling that mental framework all throughout The Insanity of God. By its very nature, it cannot be fact-checked. Even the author's name is a pseudonym. I searched the internet for his real identity. I'm still baffled. Usually Christians don't keep secrets very well....

Once I got past my skepticism, I encountered a biographical work that was, at times, depressing, uplifting, convicting, and encouraging. With all of those emotions (sometimes in just one chapter), it's no wonder that I was emotionally drained on my journey through Nik Ripken's tale. But I'm glad he took me along.

The Insanity of God shines a needed light of the persecuted church. Ripken does something far better than bombard the reader with statistics and facts; he paints real-life pictures. His anecdotes draw the reader into the lives of modern day heroes of the faith. The nameless, faceless persecuted church is humanized in The Insanity of God, eliciting a powerful emotional connection in (this) reader.

May God strengthen the persecuted church! May God waken Western believers! May the Glory of God shine through Nik Ripken's tales. ( )
  RobSumrall | Jul 6, 2016 |
The Insanity of God is not what I expected, but it was an excellent book. It is a missionary biography. This book tells the story of Nik Ripken who along with his family went to Africa as missionaries. They ended up in Nigeria, with Nik taking trips into war-torn Somalia in the 1990's. This is their story of disillusionment, of the darkness in the world, of famine and poverty and persecution. How can the world be so dark?

Nik and his wife decide to travel around the world and speak to various persecuted Christians. They want to find out how to stand in persecution and how to help them. In the end the persecuted Christians help them. It is the Ripken's story, but also the stories of dozens of persecuted Christians from Russia, China, South East Asia, India, and the Middle East.

You will be blessed by the stories in this book.

Highly recommended. ( )
  heidip | May 9, 2016 |
Nik Ripkin truly experienced what believers know intellectually but often do not understand experientially. He saw God leading in unexpected ways in places where he thought Christianity could not possibly thrive. Dr. Ripken did not always go on these dangerous journeys willingly or easily; but he did submit in obedience. That obedience led he and his wife on a journey that lasted more than fifteen years; a journey that showed them God and His salvation in ways they never would have expected.

I have been putting off the writing of this review for quite some time. Many notes were jotted down in preparation. After referring back to them a number of times I failed at writing one. I now understand that I just cannot give Insanity of God the justice it deserves. The best thing that I can do is leave you with a couple of quotes from the book and strongly urge all believers to pick it up and spend some prayerful time experiencing the justice, might, power, and glory of God.

"You don’t have to come back. You just have to go.”

“Persecution is the crucible of faith."

"Despite decades of extreme hardship, Stoyan’s stories were joyful and hopeful. He was convinced that people flocked to Christ in greater numbers during difficult days of persecution because that’s when they could recognize how God sustains and strengthens His followers through times of trouble. He said that he had learned that family is the believer’s greatest reservoir of faith and resistance in the face of persecution. And he explained that, surprisingly, freedom had brought a new set of challenges that had blurred spiritual battle lines."

“Don’t ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution! That is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!”

"Multitudes of people were eager to bear witness to a faith that had not only survived persecution, but had thrived because of it."

“What I learned during my time in Somalia… was that I never wanted my words, my actions, or my work to be the cause of anyone’s suffering. Being persecuted for my sake is NOT the same as being persecuted for Jesus’ sake. Causing suffering for my sake, especially if that suffering is the result of a thoughtless, uninformed, or downright stupid decision or action on my part, would be sad and unnecessary. It would be wrong. It might even be a sin.”

”Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

Go, serve, and do so with wisdom from your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For all of my reviews visit my blog at https://blessedandbewildered.wordpress.com ( )
  ZoeSchoppa | Oct 15, 2015 |
Reading this book opened my eyes to continuing miracles in the world. When the writer quoted the questions asked him by persecuted Christians in China, his comment says it all:
"In that moment, I began to realize how much I take for granted. I suddenly saw all the things that I have allowed to become common, things that would be considered miracles in the eyes of millions of believers in persecution. The truth is, these things we take for granted are all miracles!"
God IS present and at work in our world today.
Read this book -- prepare to be challenged to love God & be grateful for what He is doing in your life, and share His love. ( )
  Graceenough | Jul 12, 2015 |
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I would not trade our sons, our three boys, for any on the planet. They join me; Shane, Tim, and Andrew in dedicating this book to their mom; my wife, mentor, mirror of Jesus, my best friend.

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Presents stories of persecuted Christians whose faith in Christ was not diminished by adverse circumstances, and the lessons that the author took from those stories and applied to his own beliefs about the sufficiency of God.

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