Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances

Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances

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by Kimberly L. Smith

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As she shares her extraordinary stories of fighting human trafficking as an ordinary mom, Kimberly Smith offers hope for readers who wonder if God is calling them to greater things. Passport through Darkness takes readers on Smith's journey to the deserts of Africa and the deserts of her own soul as she tries to live well as an imperfect American mom, crusade for

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As she shares her extraordinary stories of fighting human trafficking as an ordinary mom, Kimberly Smith offers hope for readers who wonder if God is calling them to greater things. Passport through Darkness takes readers on Smith's journey to the deserts of Africa and the deserts of her own soul as she tries to live well as an imperfect American mom, crusade for justice for orphans around the world, and embrace God's extraordinary dreams for her. When Kimberly and her husband risk everything to answer God's call, they see God change and restore them—even amid exhaustion, marital struggles, and physical limitations. This heartbreaking, heart lifting book is for anyone who longs to see God's redemptive power heal broken hearts, fill empty bellies, and shelter uncovered heads. It is a call to readers to take one more step on their journey to know God's heart. It is a guide from one ordinary person to another to finding a life that matters.

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Cook, David C
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5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

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A True Story of Danger and Second Chances


David C. Cook

Copyright © 2011 Kimberly L. Smith
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0212-8



I stood at a precipice, a crag of rock in a parched, thirsty land that mirrored the condition of my heart. From where I stood, I looked down upon the riverbed that rendered the jagged cut reaching from the left corner of my mouth down to the bottom of my chin, and my right eye purplish black.

I recalled the day these marks came upon me and considered how many of the women I saw laboring in the current below who shared my experience. Fifty percent? Ninety percent? Had any woman been spared the hand-delivered scars of violence birthed in the tomb of this brutal, war-torn land?

Sickly cows wove around and between the women in the river. As the cows did their business in the water, some of the women bathed. Others washed rags they donned as clothing. Still others drew cans of drinking water from the soapy- feculent murkiness.

Taking stock of the last few months spent here at the border of Darfur, Sudan—the cusp of hell—I savored how God had knit these women into the fiber of my soul in ways that I'd never imagined possible back in the day of my corporate-ladder climbing. Love for them had changed my whole world. It had changed me. Now it was time for me to take what I'd been shown here back to my home in America with prayers that it, too, would be transformed.

My soul felt as restless and insecure as my feet did shuffling at the edge of the cliff.

A part of me felt so dark, lonely, and overwhelmed, I wanted to throw myself from the spire and be done with it. That would be the easy way, though, and my life had never seemed to be about finding the easy path. In fact, something in me seemed to like making life as difficult as possible.

A sprig of hope, a mite of faith encouraged me to stand down. Wait. Be expectant, but don't jump. Pray. Help was surely around the corner.

Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) had promised to send someone to witness the persecution, rape, mutilation, and genocide I was documenting on the southern border of Darfur. Knowing it had taken me months of preparation, followed by endless fieldwork, to find and accurately record this data—information that I was still just beginning to comprehend—I didn't see how I could possibly help the VOM rep to grasp it in just three days.

Sudan is the tenth-largest country in the world; the region of Darfur is the size of France. The southern half of Sudan has a grand total of about three miles of pavement. Darfur has none. The reality of war, insecurity, violence, and lack of infrastructure, combined with the fact that we had no vehicle to speed up our maneuvers, rendered the task of sufficiently covering the vast territory in such a short time frame all but impossible.

I'd taken it upon myself to take the time and risk of walking from village to village or riding our sole motorbike to the death camps, what I'd come to call the Internally Displaced People's camps (IDP). I started calling IDPs death camps after my first visit over a year ago. Before that trip, the word camp always conjured an image of security, even if the conditions were rustic. Visiting one stripped me of my penchant for naiveté, showing me thousands of people squatting in the desert with no food, water, or security—just waiting for death. For most, the wait wasn't long.

I wanted to make sure I would be able to adequately expose the VOM rep to the same kind of reality. To do that, I would need transportation to cover vast amounts of ground more quickly than walking would allow.

Late yesterday a brainstorm hit me. We'd ride donkeys! James Lual Atak, our indigenous director, laughed at my kawaidja (rich white person) notions, calling me a Sudanese wannabe. But he humored me. Since the VOM rep would be here in just a few days, early this morning he'd brought several donkeys to our camp so we could test-ride them before the rep arrived.

Always ready for action, I was the first to climb on. An old man we called Peterdit held the end of the rope tied around the neck of my donkey, which I'd named Blue. The sharp ridge of spine rising from Blue's bare back cut into me in all the wrong places, and I squirmed to make a seat for myself.

Peterdit kept overenunciating two Arabic words for me, one for stop and one for faster. As Blue reared up, alternately kicking his hind legs and then his front legs high into the air, he let me know he wasn't happy about my squirming on his backside.

Blue's outburst jerked the rope from Peterdit's grasp. Blue set off toward the village, bucking like a horizontal kangaroo.

In my hysteria I could only summon up one of the two words Peterdit taught me. I screamed it as firmly as I could, "Harach! Harach! Harach!" over and over again trying to make Blue obey my limited grasp of the Arabic language: "Stop!"

My head thrashed back and forth, and I flopped to Blue's side, squeezing my legs around his girth as tightly as I could, while clinging to the frayed rope now burning the palm of my hands as it ripped through my fingers. As I blitzed by, I caught a glimpse of James laughing uproariously from atop his donkey, his long legs conveniently reaching his feet flat to the desert floor. At the time, I found no humor in Blue's fit, or my condition!

After my whirlwind tour of the village via Blue's conniption, Peterdit boldly stepped into Blue's path and grabbed the rope flinging freely in the air as I clung to Blue's short tuft of mane. He yelled a word I did not recognize in such force that the beast calmed himself, and I fell to the ground. Although my body would yell its trauma to me through deep musculature aches for many days, my only serious injury was to my pride.

Apparently the one Arabic word I had been yelling was not the word "Stop!" but rather "Faster, faster, faster!"

The comedy of my barebacked-donkey ride at this morning's sunrise seemed a millennium away, and a stark contrast to the bleakness of what followed. As waves of heat swelled from the desert floor, I wrote off the whole donkey deal as another one of my romantic inclinations, and James and I opted to walk, not ride, to the death camp.

While there may be few good days in a death camp, this one was particularly brutal. We'd been out of medicine for a month, out of food for a week, and today, we ran out of water. All of those life-giving commodities were gone, except for the private stash we kept at our compound for James and me, the kawaidja.

Although at home in the United States, people often thought of me as a poor missionary, I was coming to understand and grapple with the fact that I was, in reality, wealthy for simple things like never running out of water.

Up to this point in my life, what had I chosen to do with my riches? Standing on that cliff, I painfully acknowledged how I'd squandered so much of what God had given me, most painfully my entire life. Many times throughout this journey, this awakening, I have come perilously close to throwing it all away.

Through God's grace, I slowly stepped down from the precipice and began to face the end of the me I'd created for myself. I wanted to live the life—be the me—He dreamed of.

I remembered a prayer I'd cried out many years before, begging Him to use me. I wondered, if I'd known where that prayer would lead, would I still have prayed it? Deciding the answer was yes, I uttered a new prayer: "You can have whatever You want from me, but please, God, just show me what difference one person can make in the darkness of this broken world."

The following is His story, as lived through me to this point.



When our lives aren't what we long for them to be, we often fall into blaming someone else. At first glance all of our problems appear to be because we didn't get something—or someone—we wanted. It often takes years of life chipping away at us before we're willing to peek inside ourselves for the source of our discontent.

For me, the motivation to stop blaming others—and look inside myself—came at a great cost. My first husband and I labeled each other as the source of our own discontent. Tragically, after almost ten years of marriage, we divorced. Broken pieces of our family's heart were grounded into the street of despair like a shattered Coke bottle under the steamroller of anger, blame, and bitterness.

As I carefully examined the cesspool I'd made of my life back then, I spotted a stone God had carefully placed under my feet, keeping me safe and dry. Through His mercy and bountiful grace, He'd given me a second chance at a home, a marriage, and a family. A life.

Milton, my husband of more than twenty years now, is both ferocious in battle and gentle in ways of the heart that even few women embody. He is the perfect mate for me.

Both of us had emerged from failed marriages that mirrored our upbringing. So we entered our marriage together with gusto, coming at each other with fierce determination to weather the blur of life's mixer with eyes wide open.

We each threw our three children into the family blender, hoping to create something beautiful out of all the slicing and dicing. With five girls and one boy ranging from toddler to teens, there would be plenty of nosh to tempt us into closing our eyes—or worse—our hearts. At times, we fought for one another. At times, against. Other times, we squeezed our eyes shut in fear, anger, or pain—but never our hearts.

Soon I began to see God's stones everywhere. Having grown up on the wrong side of the tracks, I'd since worked hard to achieve the lifestyle I imagined to be on the other side. At the top of my game I became a successful executive in corporate America.

I had a good life. But it wasn't enough. Something essential was missing. Even with my feet dry and secure on those perfectly placed stones, a nagging sense of futility needled away at me day and night.

When I first became conscious of this emptiness, I thought maybe it was just because I was getting older, and all of the "big firsts" were behind me. I wasn't going to have any more children. I couldn't keep climbing the corporate ladder at the same pace forever; that high was gone. My marriage was good, but not the hot romance it was at first.

I dragged in from the office late most evenings, struggled to keep the kids on track, strove to keep the house in order, fought crow's-feet and cellulite, and scored check marks beside church attendance and Bible reading. Things looked pretty good ... on the outside.

I thought living the "good life" would make my family happy and secure.

I was wrong. It wasn't working.

Something was missing. Even when nestled in my own bed in the arms of my loving husband in a house full of beautiful children, I often woke up in the middle of the night lonely, with a haunting feeling in my stomach. Pursuit of the American Dream was eating me alive.

Asleep at the Wheel of Life

By the late nineties, we were living near Birmingham, Alabama, and had two children left at home. Life was a lot less demanding, and I began to listen to that restless growl in my soul a bit more.

Early one Monday morning, before the fog had time to clear the basin between the twin peaks of Double Oak Mountain, I cut through the murkiness in my company- supplied Mercury Grand Marquis. As usual, I clipped off the miles of my forty- five-minute commute from our home in the country to my urban office by alternately talking on a cell phone and speaking notes for the day into my handheld recorder.

While I multitasked and watched for flashing taillights ahead and reflectors along the white lines at the edge of the foggy mountain road, images filled my mind as if a movie were playing in my head.

In this movie, I saw myself dressed in my typical business attire, sporting manicured nails and flawless makeup, talking away on my cell phone. It was just like any other workday commute—until I reached intersecting County Road 43. Rarely traveled by the public, County Road 43 was favored by large logging trucks. They could barrel through the twists and turns, confident no sheriff would catch them, or even care. County Road 43 had not yet caught the eye of developers as most of the county had, and the few shacks it hosted were filled with long-forgotten families of once-upon-a-time sharecroppers. A tangle of overgrowth obscured the intersection.

The drama playing in my head suddenly intensified, with images so vivid I felt as though I were really living them:

A Mack truck barrels along County Road 43, unaware he is approaching a busy highway. The driver of the truck thinks he is tunneling through one more cluster of low hanging trees along a winding stretch of county road.

He sees the bush, but he does not see the stop sign ensnarled within it. The truck runs the stop sign. I don't even see him coming. He plows right through me.

The moment of impact. The deafening sound of crushing metal, twisting, grinding. Glass shattering. Pieces of both vehicles tumbling through the air, scraping across the road. And me, flying slow motion through the windshield, tumbling across the slick metal hood, then sprawling onto the dirt like a rag doll, bloodied and broken, coming to rest facedown and split asunder on the shoulder of the road.

Startled by the scene as it unfolded in my mind, I broke into a cold sweat. Mercilessly, the movie played on:

Quick cut to our home in the country. Milton, still in his bathrobe, getting the kids ready for school. The phone ringing. Milton reaching for it, listening. An officer breaking the news to him. His face going slack, growing pale. The news hitting him like a punch. Pushing the receiver into his stomach, he curls over, crying, "No. No. Kimberly. No."

He drops the receiver. The children run to the kitchen where he is crying. Milton pushes out the best words he can find, "A truck hit Mom. She's dead. Mom is gone."

With tears streaming down my cheeks, images continued to flicker through my mind as I kept driving:

The office where I worked. My boss's phone ringing. Getting the news, shaking his head. A tear sliding down his check.

Later that afternoon. My boss sending out a corporate memo about my death. Everything stopping, for a day. Everyone stunned, for a day.

The day before the funeral, the local paper posts my obituary. My life reduced to three column inches of type, along with a photograph. A younger, more flattering picture, followed by a thumbnail sketch of my accomplishments, and a list of who survived me.

The day of the funeral, my boss gives my staff the day off so they can attend.

The day after my funeral, human resources places an ad to fill my position in the same newspaper that—just a few days earlier—announced my tragic death.

That was it.

Life went on.

At least for everyone else.

I had worked hard for what I thought was the right thing for me, and for my family. Now, I was dead. And with my death, everything in which I had invested the majority of my time was gone too. It left no lasting value of any kind.

Death revealed my life to be a well-concealed Ponzi scheme. A swindle. A farce. A compromise. I had fooled everyone.

Even myself.

Wide Awake

Shaken by this unsettling vision, I considered my children. They were great kids and good students, but kids whose main concerns were to be popular athletes, pretty cheerleaders, or to drive cool cars. They were excellent students of every stride I'd made chasing the American Dream—collecting things, pursuing achievements, and looking great on the outside. All of this at the expense of what their hearts most deeply longed for—to know the exact reason God created them and how to spend their entire lives from that sacred place. It hurt to realize the values I handed down to them.

Even in our church we didn't teach our kids about being a part of something bigger. We tried mostly to make sure we provided enough entertainment in their religion to hook them into our church so we didn't lose them to the competition. Sometimes we feared the competition would be a boyfriend, other times a drug pusher, still other times another church.

Sure, we did soup kitchens and extracurricular goodness, but these activities were tack-ons, not a way of life.

To be honest, we adults in the church weren't a whole lot different. We, too, seemed to prefer "fun" over transformation—only our definition of fun was just a little more refined. Over time, it had been diluted to something more like comfort.


Excerpted from PASSPORT THROUGH DARKNESS by KIMBERLY L. SMITH. Copyright © 2011 Kimberly L. Smith. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Passport Through Darkness 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing how open the Smiths shared their story and others they have met. Changes my outlook on daily irritations in this blessed nation we live in. Always have had my heart tugged to help orphans and women in africa but this made the struggles they face more real
vernie24VE More than 1 year ago
To be completely honest, this book is not an easy thing to read without getting affected along the way as I was teary eyed in between pages. This is a true-to-life story of an American couple who is living a very comfortable life but gave it all up one day as they both decided to follow a much higher noble calling or to surrender to a yearning---how to serve God better! They left their comfort zones to serve the Lord in probably the most darkest place in the whole planet Earth---Darfur, Sudan! The Author shared with us through this book her journey to this where she gets to experience the outcome of the horrors of war, there is rape, torture and murder. Evil is so much written in this place that one would ask " Why did Kimberly stayed on?'. Perhaps, Kimberly Smith is truly living the Purpose Driven life along with her husband Milton, they gave hope and they continued the good fight to start an orphanage there and established a organization to end human trafficking. I must really emphasize that this book is really hard to put down once you get up with all that suspense and drama involved. It is not really much about the suffering in Sudan, but the question far will you go as a devoted Christian? There is so much revelations here that might shock you but that is the reality, it is something you can't simply ignore. Overall, it is kind of a depressing but this will help you dig deeper to your faith and know what it means to truly follow Jesus Christ not only by reading the bible but by practicing it. this book is trying to not just a word --it is something every one of us should act upon with conviction despite all the odds. I received this book from B&B Media group for a book review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.
Evangeline_Han More than 1 year ago
Passport Through Darkness is an autobiography of a woman's journey in one of the darkest land in the world, Sudan. Kimberly L. Smith was a successful woman with everything that she could ever achieve in her American Dream and yet, she was discontented and dissatisfied. Until one day when she dared to allow God to use her and her husband, Milton. Their lives has never been the same since then. I found this autobiography an enjoyable read. Smith writes in brutal honesty as she gives us gut-wrenching glimpses of life in Sudan. She is not a professional writer but manages to communicate her message in a simple and effective manner. Smith is also honest in the book and does not try to put up a facade to hide her character flaws. There is many stories in it that is both informative and interesting. I found it difficult to put the book down until I finished reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the most thought provoking, gratefulness inducing, eye opening book i have ever read. It was the last push i needed to start making any difference i could. I recommend everyone read this book. Those of us that have much have no excuse for not sharing with those less fortunate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this story because we actually sent missionaries to this orphanage. It is truly awesome how God calls those to serve and they go. What an astonishing and touching story that will leave you grateful for the blessings that we have here in the US. This story is not an easy book to read. It is amazing how a loving God uses an ordinary woman to reach the unwanted orphans in a ravaged country.
MariaSavva_Author More than 1 year ago
Passport Through Darkness, is a true story, told with great passion by the author. Kimberly L. Smith was an ordinary American woman, happily married with a successful career. Most of her children were grown up and had left home, and she was starting to feel as if her life was stuck in a rut. On her way to work one day she was struck by the realisation that if she died on that day, she would soon be forgotten and nothing she had left behind would be of any value. She wanted her life to have a meaning and purpose. This feeling was so strong that it overwhelmed her, she felt that she could no longer go on living the life she was living. She found herself begging God to show her what her purpose was. Around this time, her husband was beginning to feel as if their lives had become stale and they should be doing more, trying to make a difference for themselves and others. In his past he had worked as a missionary in Spain, as if by chance there was now an opening for missionaries to work in Spain. Her husband suggested that they move there. At first unsure about the upheaval, eventually the author and her husband and their two teenage children made the move to Spain. This adventure was the start of the author's 'Passport Through Darkness' , the beginning of her journey to realise the reason she was put on the earth. It started a chain of events that would eventually lead her to Sudan, alone, where she was to face her worst fears and risk her own life, to save orphans and widows from the atrocities they faced on a daily basis. Passport Through Darkness is an eye-opening read, a hard-hitting story about life in Sudan and other war-torn countries. It's a book that has the power to change the way people see themselves and their lives. It is an intense book, there are many shocking realities within the pages, but it is a book that begs to be read, and contains the very important message that each one of us has a purpose. By facing her deepest fears, and risking losing everything she cared about, Kimberly L.Smith was able to fully experience life and come to appreciate the person she was put on the earth to be. Kimberly L. Smith and her husband are the founders of Make Way Partners (Make Way Partners) which helps prevent human trafficking worldwide. Reviewed by Maria Savva as a reviewer for Bookpleasures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love to know there are some people that honestly care.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible. I couldnt put it down.
SuperTuper More than 1 year ago
This story had to be told. We here in America need to know what is happening across the seas to these helpless women and children. I admire Kimberly for being able to recount these painful memories. I don't believe her spirit would have allowed her to do otherwise. Kimberly is a gifted and talented author whose word usage and style are exceptional. Her storytelling abilitiy is incredible. She writes with humility and transparancy that allows the reader to see her endearing personal qualities. The reader sees her down-to-earth humanity and can connect with her. The stories themselves are engaging and you become captivated by these human beings who have had to endure such unspeakable horror. Their stories of survival will touch your heart in a way nothing else can. Praise God for moving Kimberly Smith out of her comfort zone and into the pit of hell. Thank you Kimberly for answering the call of those crying out in the wilderness for a Savior. Their Savior is Jesus and Jesus is working through Kimberly L. Smith. If you read this book and you are not moved by the stories of survival, not moved my Kim's faith and perseverance, not motivated to seek out how God may be challenging you, then re-read it until you are.
andrea259 More than 1 year ago
This book changed my view on life! I realize now,I have never had a problem, and never will have any problems. The truth shall set you free, and this book is a great example of the truth. Here in the USA we are kept pretty much in the dark and feed pop culture. Although this is not by our default, but we are sheltered from evil in the world. This book sheds light to the real world we live in, and once you have read this, you can no longer go back to the way you used to view the world. This is a MUST read!
kherbrand More than 1 year ago
I love that last line - Live the life God dreamed of when He first dreamed of you. When you were growing up, how often did you dream about what your life would be like - what you would do - who you would marry - what your kids would be like. I find it amazing that my Creator would dream about me and what he wants for my life. Through this book, Kimberly tells the story of how she came to be living the life she believes God had in mind for her. By the end, she bares her soul for all, things that she even kept from her husband for a time. Be sure to keep the kleenexes handy when reading - as you will surely need them. I found myself thinking about the conditions she describes in this book as I went about my day - thanking God for all those things we take for granted, like fresh water, shelter, security. It has definitely made me take a deeper look at how I can best serve God. This is a must read book, both to bring awareness to a part of the world where atrocities abound on a daily basis, and to bring awareness to hearts that might not know God's path - or even know God.
Psalm22 More than 1 year ago
This book has changed me forever. It's really quite astounding to realize that one person can make such a huge difference in the suffering of others. I am so thankful that Kimberly shared her story with us, now I must decide what I'm going to do about it.
Steve52 More than 1 year ago
A gripping account of mass murder, terror, torture, enslavement, rape, and famine in Sudan; An unblinking, intimate telling of its horrors; An unvarnished insight into the cultural, historical, religious, economic and geographic/ climatic forces at work; A sobering assessment of probable failures tempered by inevitable triumph; A clarion call to the Body of Christ; An author courageously sharing her own enslavement to self doubt and feelings of worthlessness; A testimonial to God unshackling her; A powerful paradigm for putting the Good News into action. Kimberly L. Smith's Passport Through Darkness is all these things and much more. Its value obvious to those with a heart for the Sudan and the enslaved everywhere, it should be read by the Church, leaders, and seekers everywhere. Ironically less obvious is its greatest gift: Passport Through Darkness shows not only how to set free the victims of war and modern slavery - it grants a passport to each of us, showing us how to escape our innermost torments or doubts and live fully as a freed child of God.
Joanna58 More than 1 year ago
Passport Through Darkness is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It truly pierced my heart-- If you are looking for something deeper than your same old self-help, feel good book---then this is for you! After reading this book-I am so encouraged---for I see how God's plan and desire to use average people is not just for biblical characters--- but this book helped remind me that God has a purpose for little average me. Read it and see what God is doing and desires to do in you!
MooreAudrey More than 1 year ago
Passport through Darkness is a must read! I brought the book on a long flight and couldn't put it down. Kimberly invites us in to her story of pain, suffering, joy, beauty, reconciliation and then challenges us to go on our own deeper journey of finding the adventure God has for my life when I am willing to risk and trust He is at work even in the darkest of times in the world and in my own heart. I've followed Kimberly Smith's writing for a long time through her blog and was blown away by the power of her writing in this book. It is not only a powerful story but a beautifully weaved work of art. This is a book I will read again and again and again - like spending the day sharing the realness of life with a trusted friend who has walked the path before me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ENCOURAGING Awe-Inspiring Testimonial! Highly recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ptm711 More than 1 year ago
This book shook up my world! I am already involved in the dark world of anti human trafficking, but this book really opened my eyes, with such detailed description, to the atrocities occurring in other parts of the world. It makes you want to dive in and help her change the world! Kimberly tells the story in such a detailed and vulnerable way, it makes you want to shut the book and never open it again (because what's happening is terrible and very descriptive) but you can't because it's so intriguing and you have to know what else is going to happen. She is a strong, selfless woman, and I'd recommend this book to anyone. I couldn't stop thinking about it for days after I had finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very intense true story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not bad.
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kamas716 More than 1 year ago
** spoiler alert ** This was a very emotional book, but I was slightly disappointed. From the blurb I thought it was more about the actual trafficking in slaves and less about the atrocities of war. In actuality, the book is really more the authors memoir of her journey to God through Christ's example. It was well written, just not quite what I was expecting. It opened my eyes to the callousness of humanity nearly as much as Shake Hands With the Devil by Romeo Dallaire. I was already aware of the genocide and torture/mutilation occurring in Sudan. I was not aware of the corruption and lack of sympathy portrayed by the Portuguese authorities. Coming from a background of law enforcement, and with several relatives and close friends in the field, it's hard for me to understand how they can turn a blind eye on the continual sexual abuse of children. The small section dealing with Portugal was also the only part of the book that dealt with what I would consider what most people think of as 'human trafficking', which was the importation and holding of children as sex slaves. The majority of the book dealt with her experiences along the Kenya/Sudan border with the widows and orphans of the civil war in Sudan. The females who aren't captured as slaves are raped and mutilated so that if they survive, no man will want them. The children who aren't taken away as slaves are left to fend for themselves against the lions, hyenas, heat, dehydration, malnutrition and disease. One thing I found rather unsettling was her rather casual, almost flippant, description of her rape and how she dealt with it at the time. It was almost like it was thrown into the book as an afterthought; as in "Oh, yeah, this also happened". Another part of the book dealt with her and her husbands strained relationship due to the fact that they felt they needed to hide things from each other to remain strong for the other. Part of this may have been due to the extreme distance, time and culture that separated them.