Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blessed Child by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright

I first read this book when it came out in 2001.  After ripping through the pages in record time, I considered it one of the best Christian books I had ever read.  At the time, I had not heard of Ted Dekker but I was very familiar with Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.  I loved the spiritual implications and meat in the book which I assume were Bright's influence.  On the other hand, Dekker is master of intrigue and suspense that keeps readers from putting the book down.

This is truly a book that I believe every believer should read. The story revolves around Caleb, a 10-year old boy with remarkable abilities.  Raised from infancy in an Ethiopian Greek Orthodox monastery, he led an incredibly isolated existence with Father Matthew serving as his earthly and spiritual father and raising him in an atmosphere of purity; sheltered from all the evil of the world.  He had not stepped foot anywhere outside of the monastery up until one fateful day.

Father Matthew requests that the boy be moved for his own safety.  A relief worker (Jason) is summoned to the monastery and in the blink of an eye, Caleb starts a journey unlike anything he has known.  Jason and Caleb are accompanied by a Red Cross nurse, Leiah, who is also leaving the country.  Immigration papers have been prepared so that the child can be brought to the United States and left in the care of an orphanage for refugees. They narrowly escape death as the monastery is blown up moments after evacuating.

The first few chapters keep readers on the edge of their seats and the action hardly lets up throughout the book.  Inside you'll meet a power hungry politician, greedy priest, ambitious reporter, burn-scarred victim, grief-stricken widower and father, evil orphanage matron and the most innocent child desiring with all his heart and soul to walk in the reality of the Kingdom of God and to share that with others.

Caleb's life starts to go downhill once he's admitted into the care of a Greek Orthodox orphanage and becomes the responsibility of Martha.  Caleb's time there sounds like Oliver Twist (or worse).  Kept in total isolation except for his limited visits with Jason and Leiah (who have no idea he is being mistreated by Martha), Caleb is left alone with a television that Martha has jimmied so that it cannot be turned off.  As disturbing images haunt Caleb day and night, he fights against watching them but often succumbs. A very unusual form of torture that robs Caleb of much of his peace and joy that he once knew.

What if we all cared as much about what we put into our hearts and minds? What if we desired purity and holiness and communion with the Lord Jesus as highly as Caleb did?  In spite of his ill treatment, Caleb has the incredible gift to heal.  It doesn't take the priest in charge long to realize that here is a money-making opportunity and Caleb quickly becomes an instrument to line the priest's pockets.

But Caleb becomes the target of an assassin because of a vision he has had about the presidential candidate who isn't all he appears to be.  You'll want to read this tale to find out how God is glorified in some of the most trying circumstances.

This is a masterful tale of the greatness of God, the power of His love, the gift of His forgiveness and the desire He has to heal hearts as much as bodies.  Readers will have their eyes opened to the reality of the Kingdom that lies just beneath the surface of what we can see.

While I do not care for Dekker's more recent works that have grown increasingly dark, this book represents one of the best and brightest endeavors of his career.  Even if you don't like anything else by Dekker, you must give Blessed Child a chance--it is a truly beautiful piece of artistry that will make you feel as though you have touched the heart of God in all His love, holiness, and purity.  And you won't soon forget it.

You can purchase a copy of this book directly from Thomas Nelson or from one of the following retailers:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Blessed Child for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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