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From the Publisher
Here's evidence that with God's help all things are possible. These remarkable stories of South Africans who overcome economic, social, and spiritual oppression through faith are testimonies that missionary efforts are bearing incredible fruit. Two thumbs up for a great book.
- Tony Campolo, author and sociology professor at Eastern University
Most of the success stories we Christians tell each other are inspirational tall tales. Even when the facts are technically true, we ministry people generally edit ourselves in such a way as to dazzle -- and raise money. So then, both the good news and the bad news is that Chrissie Jeske's collection of stories about the common, unmiraculous transformations of common, unmiraculous people is both rare and remarkable. If you are looking for some honest hope in a world full of trouble, here it is.
- Bart Campolo, author, speaker, and leader of the Walnut Hills Fellowship
Africa is a rich, harsh, diverse land not made for sissies! In this riveting book Christine Jeske invites you to experience, and possibly wrestle with, the many massive burdens encountered by authentic 21st Century Africans. With their few creature comforts and minimal Western luxuries, they draw us into the reality of living out Christ in the midst of trials, tradition, and tribulation. The "mud" of each story in this book forces readers to examine the impact of God's Living Water to cleanse, clarify, and cultivate. This is a book we should all read; it expands the mind and softens the heart.
- Rona Miller, executive editor of Christian Living Today (South Africa)
God is calling his people to a strange joy, the kind that comes only by borrowing the discomfort of others. Some hear the call; many do not. Christine Jeske hears it and passes it on to us. You don't have to love Africa to hear the invitation. Africa's stories are like all stories in the world's hard places. The invitationis to accompany one another in the pilgrimage of faith.
- Michele Rickett, founder and president of Sisters In Service and co-author of Daughters of Hope and Forgotten Girls
God made the first human by breathing into dirt. Jesus healed a blind guy by picking up mud, spitting in it, and wiping it on the man's eyes. Jesus interrupted a death penalty case by drawing in the sand as people dropped their stones, and He told a bunch of religious folks if they want to enter the kingdom of God they need to play in the dirt with the kids. The Scriptures are full of stories of a God who is not afraid of dirt, who is just as likely to show up in the sewers of the slums as in the polished halls of the temples. Christine Jeske has felt the mud between her toes and has seen God at work in the dirt. This is a book of dirty theology. It's about a God who is not scared of getting dirty, and invites us to join him in the mud. May we have the courage to roll up our pant-legs and follow.
- Shane Claiborne, activist and author of Jesus for President
Into the Mud tells the real stories of Africa. These are not the tragic stories, fairy tales, or classic cliches of many novels. Instead, they are the stories of Africa today--of people struggling to better their lives, or finding hope in God and community. Jeske's openness with her own story invites the reader into the realities of walking with your neighbor. This book will be valuable to individuals and groups in examining their preconceived notions of development and developing nations, or as they prepare for a cross-cultural experience.
-Pamela Crane, water project manager for Blood:Water Mission
Into the Mud is an engaging picture of how to enter another culture from the position of a learner and a fallen human being but still with a view to bring about positive change. Christine Jeske's carefully chosen, well-written stories all have lessons to be learned and are followed by questions for discussion and reflection. I recommend this book highly for those thinking of cross-cultural ministry, be it short or long-term.
-Jim Tebbe, Urbana Director
Jeske presents a number of compelling narratives that serve as a powerful reminder that the kingdom of God is not found in worldly comforts and pleasures, but rather in the mundane, anonymous struggles of ordinary people trying to make sense of the complexities of life. Jeske does a wonderful job of navigating through complicated issues of race and class in the developing world in ways that are accessible and personal, and with a distinctively Christian foundation that adds depth and meaning beyond the difficult circumstances described in her accounts. A much-needed example of grace and humility in the way Western Christians respond to global needs.
- Matt Koschmann, assistant professor of communications at the University of Colorado at Boulder
Into the Mud is an adventure from cover to cover! A young mother from Wisconsin rides her motorcycle across the South African countryside, searching for the Africa of which she had dreamed back on her college campus. What she finds instead is more than colorful folktales and exotic music--she finds miracles of faith and God's love at work in the "mud" of extreme poverty, violence, racism, and disease. This book is full of love, hope, and inspiration, and it is sure to launch a huge Christine Jeske fan club. I'm already eager to see her next one!
- Don Mosley, founding member of Jubilee Partners and author of With Our Own Eyes
Through raw, honest, careful, and dignified re-telling of still-in-process stories of people in South Africa, Into the Mud shows how our Creator and Redeemer enters into the pain of people surrounded by injustice in order to provide comfort and strength as these everyday heroes encounter and embrace faith, hope, and love. I was inspired and deeply moved.
- Benjamin Homan, president of Food for the Hungry
Jeske offers winsome, colorful exhibits of God's grace and Kingdom movement in a landscape of globalized juxtapositions. Into the Mud reminds us that indeed, every story is a travel story, as the journey of becoming and hope are inextricably woven together in the face of everyday people. One need not have traveled to the southern tip of Africa to appreciate a literary arousal of the senses as the author walks the reader through the social and physical topography of the Zulu nation. Of course, if one has traveled to this mountainous region of South Africa, these stories ring with authentic detail and perspective. A wonderful read for anyone who wishes to understand this nook of our planet or who just long to hear more evidence of God's redemptive work in the muddy places of life.
-Gary T. LaVanchy, adjunct instructor and discipleship coordinator at Wheaton College
Beautifully and engagingly written, Christine Jeske brings us deep reflections and poses important questions from the front-lines of ministry to the poor in southern Africa. Through a series of sensitively written, engaging, and evocative stories of ordinary people, a mosaic of Africa as it is today emerges before our eyes -- complex, deeply Christian, caring, and humane. The key issues of mission, poverty, development, and justice surface through these compelling lives. This is a book that you must read.
- Bryant L. Myers, professor of international development at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development
If Jesus loved to use story in order to teach the crowds, then it is clear that Christine Jeske is surely one of his disciples. Into the Mud sings in well-written narrative the glories of God in a context of hardship and joy, suffering and victory. It's one of those books that beg for the page to turn in order to discover what happens next. Christine walks us through the South African dust in dry season and the mud in rainy season, and in the process we discover Christ and His coming kingdom-- sometimes with great challenges, but often with rewarding surprises. I urge you to journey with her into the mud and straight to the heart of God.
- Scott A. Bessenecker, associate director of InterVarsity Missions and author of The New Friars: The Emerging Movement Serving the World's Poor
Christine wrestles with some of the world's greatest problems but offers glimpses of hope in a landscape of need, seeds of reconciliation in a history of brokenness, and stories of enduring faith in the most unlikely places. Using moving vignettes, Christine Jeske accomplishes what the statistics fail to do--plunge us into the grit and reality of the world's largest issues and move us to action. Jeske is a master storyteller and this outstanding book contains stories that need to be told.
- Peter Greer, president of HOPE International and co-author of The Poor Will Be Glad