For most of us the story of Africa's troubles have come through the lens of a camera as we watch images of refugees desperately fleeing yet another civil war, teenage soldiers pointing guns menacingly, starving children staring up at us empty-eyed and hopeless. Yet somehow the very nature of modern media presentation can depersonalise the story and keep us from the real people whose lives are changed for ever by the tragic events unfolding around them.
This book is an antidote to this problem because this is Georges and Lydia's story told with compelling honesty, not merely to shock or provoke sympathy but to give glory to God. In some ways their story is typical of so many millions caught up in murderous events beyond their control and yet it is a unique story because at the heart is an emerging awareness of the personal, sovereign interventions of a loving God. Lydia and Georges have not just been faces in the crowd, another tragic statistic amongst so many, they have been rescued by the One whose name is 'Mighty Deliverer'. At a particular point in time Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town, the church I have the privilege to lead, became part of the story as Lydia found refuge and, ultimately Jesus Christ himself, amongst us. Lydia was a kind of 'first fruit' amongst us. At the time she arrived we had not seen the huge influx of refugees from Central Africa we were later to experience. Hearing her incredible story helped to prepare us as a church to receive the multitudes of battered, broken people who have been ravaged by the misery and suffering war brings in its wake.
Despite the ongoing troubles in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, the terrible genocide of 1992 in Rwanda and Burundi has become a fading memory in the world's consciousness but, in many ways, the true story is yet to be told. Reading Valley of the Shadow helps us to see through the eyes of those who were actually there and whose lives were caught up in the maelstrom that followed. It also helps us to see how God 'works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose' (Romans 8:28). It is a sobering, inspiring, encouraging story of God's grace in action.
Valley of the Shadow is published by Kevin Mayhew. The ISBN for Valley of the Shadow is 9781844171651.