Book Review of "Long Walk to Freedom"

Nelson Mandela began writing his autobiography while imprisoned in 1974. It was confiscated by authorities but he resumed writing after being released in 1990, with help of friends who aided him in remembering the details.

“Long Walk to Freedom” is a very thick book. I admit that I skimmed through the political pages because it would take a long time to read. I mostly wanted to read about his childhood, marriages and family life.

His life has indeed been a long walk. He went from being born in a typical African village, to getting a degree, getting involved in a cause, being imprisoned and eventually becoming a leader.

As a child after his father’s death, he was sent to be raised by a family who could send his to school. That must have been hard for his mother but she wanted him to have a future.

He told of being circumcised, running away from home with his friend to escape an arranged marriage, his marriages and children. The destiny for him was a difficult one. His family did not get his presence because he had to save a nation.

It is painful as a Christian to know that at one time, well-meaning missionaries treated other races as inferior in their attempts to help. We’ve seen it with Native Americans, Australians and Africans. Still, the Methodist schools that he attended gave him the education that many children are not afforded. The man who raised him was returning a favor that Nelson’s father had done for him when he was alive. This man was able to send him to there.

Nelson Mandela was not his birth name. It was the English-Christian name given to him on his first day of school. His father died when he was nine years old.

As a young man, an arranged marriage was announced by his friend’s father. He had already chosen the brides for the two young men and paid the dowries. They ran away from home and got into several scrapes. When the other young man received news of his father’s death, Nelson told him he should return home. By this time, Nelson already felt a calling for his own life that he couldn’t ignore.

His first marriage ended when his wife became a Jehovah’s Witness and they just believed in two different concepts. His second marriage ended after his release for the good of the country because her route had become too controversial.

I watched a documentary about his second wife, Winnie. Although her path later took a rough turn, I believe in the beginning, she was wanting to help her husband by being involved. She herself was imprisoned for a period of time. The separation was very hard on her.

I read in other sources that he later married his third wife who had been married to a prior leader before becoming a widow.

Although Nelson’s family paid a difficult price, his sacrifice changed a nation and the world.

Book Review of "A Heart for Freedom"

Chai Ling shares her story in “A Heart for Freedom”. She has a first hand account to the abortion issue in China. Her cause is worth one supporting. You may have more in common than you think.

I would never have thought that I would have anything in common with someone who has gone through unimaginable hardships in another country. As I read her story and thoughts, I saw some similarities and alignment with my views that made me feel like I could share something with others from different backgrounds.

Chai was one of the students involved in the Tiananmen Square incident. She escaped and built a new life in America. In China as a young woman, she had troubled relationships and four abortions.

Chai accepted Christ but had to help friends understand that when witnessing to Chinese women about abortions, they needed to refrain from telling the women to confess their sins and just let them know they are loved. She went on to say that we need to do the same in America and for anyone we are trying to witness to. I agreed with that.

A similarity I felt was in her struggle finishing her story. She attempted to write it twenty years ago but was unable to finish it. Something was holding her back. Once she fully went through the healing process, she was able to finish it. That is something I think many writers go through.

At the end of the book, she shared an email she had received from a friend about an image of Jesus being with them. It was similar to a poem I had written about fifteen years ago.

Although her’s was an experience different from ours, as humans here are some common shared experiences by people in general: Many young women have dating difficulties, many women have abortions, many refugees have emotional struggles when coming to a new country, many Christians with good intentions, can be insensitive at times when attempting to share the Gospel. Many people are searching but don’t know exactly what they are searching for. Many authors have difficulty completing their stories.

Jesus finds us where we are at. Grace is for us all. Healing can take many years. We all have something to offer.

My story may not be the same but I can reach out to others in my every day life and help in small ways that mean so much. We never know the impact we have on others.