Safely Homeby Randy Alcorn
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Is this the day I die? Li Quan asks himself this question daily, knowing that he might be killed for practicing his faith. American businessman Ben Fielding has no idea what his brilliant former college roommate is facing in China. He expects his old friend has fulfilled his dream of becoming a university professor. But when they are reunited in China after twenty years, both men are shocked at what they discover about each other. Thrown together in an hour of encroaching darkness, both must make choices that will determine not only the destinies of two men, but two families, two nations, and two worlds.
While a fictional story, this is not art for art’s sake. There’s a strong message in this story of an American businessman who has lost his Christian faith. He travels to China, where he meets his college roommate, who is practicing Christianity in the midst of persecution. The persecution leads the American back to his faith. Steve Sever’s presentation of the Chinese voice is quite good; he captures the speech pattern of someone whose native language is Chinese. His deep voice is always clear and strong. However, this is the voice of a professional radio announcer, not the voice of a storyteller. And the voices from heaven are a bit hokey.
M.L.C. 2002 Audie Award Finalist - © AudioFile Portland, Maine
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Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1THREE MEN watched intently as peculiar events occurred, one right after the other, on opposite sides of the globe.
"What's happening?" asked the first, tall and dark skinned.
"I don't know," replied the man with long black hair. "But wheels are turning, aren't they?"
"Things appear synchronized," said the third man, compact and broad shouldered. "A pattern is emerging. Something great seems poised to happen. Something else lurks in the shadows. It seeks to devour the greatness before it is born."
"Two destinies are converging. But neither suspects it."
The tall one pointed toward a great palace in the distance. "He searches to find the right man for the right hour. Is this the hour? Is this the man?"
"And if so, which man? Or both? We see far more clearly than they do. But still our minds are too small to figure it all out."
"The soil was tilled and the seeds planted twenty years ago," the broad-shouldered man said. "No. A hundred years, at least. Now we will see what fruit the vine produces, or whether it will wither and die."
"Hanging in the balance are not just two men," said the longhaired man, "but two families, perhaps two nations."
"Indeed, two worlds."
"The loss could be immense. Or the gain immeasurable." His voice trembled.
"We must watch closely as the tapestry is woven ... or as it unravels."
"We must do more than watch." The tall man reached out one hand to the other two, who grasped it firmly, the muscles of their forearms taut. They now looked like warriors.
"The stakes are high."
"Higher than they can possibly imagine. Higher than we ever dreamed when we walked that world."
"Somebody's got to make the tough calls," Ben Fielding muttered. "And I don't see anyone else volunteering."
He picked up the phone from his oversized mahogany desk at the far side of his window office on the thirty-ninth floor of the U.S. Bancorp Tower. It was a bright September morning, and Oregon was the best place in the world to live in the fall, but he had more important things to do than admire the view.
"Doug? We need to talk."
"Sure," said Doug Roberts from his desk in the sales department. "What's up?"
"I have a management team meeting right now. Might take an hour. I'll call you in when it's over. Be sure you're available. I've got a conference call before lunch, and I won't have much time."
"Okay, Ben. But what do you want to talk about?"
"I'll call you when I'm ready." Ben still gripped the phone tightly three seconds after he'd finished talking. Finally he put it down.
Doug was his cousin, his mom's sister's son. They'd grown up on the East Coast, a few hundred miles apart. They'd spent most holidays together, wrestling in the snow or exploring the beach or playing Parcheesi in front of the fire. Those were the days ... when life was simple, and loyalties easily maintained.
Now they both worked in Portland, Oregon, on the opposite seaboard, for Getz International, a leading-edge multinational corporation. As a department head fifteen years ago, Ben had offered Doug a sales job, and he'd jumped at it. They were both young and hungry back then.
Doug had so much potential. Why had he forced his hand? Once he'd been an asset to Ben. Now he'd become a liability.
That Doug was family made it messy. Ben would probably have to skip the holiday gatherings this year. Doug had backed him into a corner. He had to send a clear message to all the employeesBen Fielding doesn't tolerate insubordination, and he doesn't play favorites.
"Martin's in the boardroom." His secretary's voice over the intercom yanked Ben back to the moment. "They're ready for you."
"On my way."
Ben stopped in front of the mirror on the back side of his office door, ran a comb through his hair, then straightened his Shanghai silk tie. He went to the door of the conference room, took a deep breath, and calculated his entrance. He walked in briskly but not too hurried. He stood tall and smiled pleasantly without grinning, a smile he'd practiced in the mirror. Dressed in a black Armani with a boxy Italian fit, Ben Fielding was a self-made picture of style, poise, and competence. There were eight men in the room, and every eye was on him.
"Hey, Ben," Martin said, "we're talking about that dream you spelled out for us ten years agoselling one of everything to a country of 1.2 billion people!" Suddenly Martin's broad smile evaporated. "Travis here and a couple of the team have voiced some concerns."
Ben raised his eyebrows and stared at Travis.
"The situation's not stable," Travis said, looking at his Palm Pilot instead of Ben. "I don't trust that government."
"China won't be bullied by anyone," Ben said. "That's what Hong Kong was all about. And Macao. They won't let ‘foreign devils' control their destiny. What's theirs is theirs."
"And what isn't theirs eventually will be," Travis said.
Ben shrugged. "I'll say it again. If one nation dictates everybody's future, it won't be America. It'll be China. The sooner everybody comes to terms with that, the better we can position ourselves."
"One thing's for sure," Martin said; "there's not another semiconductor or microchip company with our access to Beijing and Shanghai. Between Ben and Jeffrey, we've established one major beachhead."
Martin Getz, showing straight white teeth in a smile so big it drew in everyone, was CEO of Getz International. His father had started the company in 1979, just before the computer revolution changed the world.
"Okay, okay, guys. What's the report on the Shanghai factory?"
"All indicators are positive," Jeffrey said. "Production's still going up. With socialism loosening its grip and workers getting more for their labor, there's a new Chinese work ethic. Without all those paranoid safety and antipollution regulations, they get done in a week what takes us a monthand their Q.A. tallies are better."
"I don't want to hear this," Johnny said, his suit lapels flaring as he leaned back, playfully covering his ears. "There are certain things lawyers shouldn't know."
"We can't impose American standards on them," Ben said. It was a mantra he'd repeated at many team meetings. "And even if we could, we don't have the right. But we can demand the highest product standards. And we're getting great results. These people are bright, smart, eager to work. They don't know about unions; they're just grateful to make a living and be able to buy a refrigerator, a TV, maybe even a computer."
Ben's confident voice commanded attention. There was a presence about him. Martin was the boss, but Ben was the brains and energy. Everyone knew it.
"China's still our fastest growing market?" Martin asked.
"In another few years they'll be our biggest customerperiod," Ben said. "China has a skyrocketing economy with hundreds of millions of residences that'll add computers and a dozen other electronic devices in the next ten years. Dayton's assembling the network cards in Mexico. They'll ship direct from there to our joint-venture partnerships in-
country and bypass China's trade restrictions. It brings the end product cost down and gets it into more hands. Getz benefits inside China; then we score again when it's shipped back here at a fraction of the cost, and we sell it through traditional distribution channels. Our competitors' heads will be spinning. In the next few years they'll be eating our dust."
"They'll never catch up," Martin said, all teeth again.
"I wish I shared your confidence," Travis said. "Seems to me we're walking on a minefield. It's a shaky economy. Human rights issues, overbuilding in Shanghai ... not to mention Beijing's ability to pull the plug on anyone for any reason."
"It's capitalists and communists scratching each other's backs," Ben said. "Sure, they've got problems. They know the state-owned enterprises are inefficient, banks are folding, and pollution's terrible. There's still a lot of trial and error, but they're learning fast. I've been saying it since
my first trip to BeijingChina's our future, guys. It offers us the most cost-effective partnerships on the planet. And it's a dream market come true."
"Just make sure they keep needing us, Ben," Martin said. "You too, Jeffrey. We don't want them to get any ideas of doing it on their own."
"Oh, they've got the ideas, alright," Ben said. "They're swimming in U.S. and Japanese technology, and they can imitate it like nobody else. Give them a decade, and they'll be improving it. Eventually, they'll be our strongest competitors. We'll be racing to keep up. But meanwhile, we've got the edge. Russia couldn't handle free enterprise, but these people can. Their work ethic gets stronger every day, while ours gets weaker. Another six to eight years, and they'll be putting America to shame."
Martin looked at Ben with undisguised admiration. "Ten years ago when you told us you could bring in millions of dollars if you studied Mandarin on company time, I thought you'd gone crazy. But it worked. Boy, did it work! They trust usyou and Jeffrey, especially. You speak their language, know their culture. That's our edge." Martin stood up. "And I want to shore up that edge. I've been chewing on an idea since that Fortune 500 CEO think tank I attended in Chicago a couple of months ago."
Martin looked around the room the way he always did before announcing an idea he was particularly proud of. Several of the men, including Ben, braced themselves. Nobody ever quite knew what Martin would come up with next.
"I'd like to send Ben or Jeffrey to spend maybe six weeks living among and talking with typical Chinese citizens, the type that might work in our factories and eventually buy our products. Ben, what about that old roommate of yours from college? He lives in China, right? A teacher, isn't he?"
Ben nodded. Li Quan's youthful face invaded his mind and infused it with bittersweet memories. It was just like Martin to spring this on him with everybody watching. As it began to register, it didn't seem a good idea at all. It had been twenty years since he ...
"Getting inside the mind of the typical consumer would help our sales strategy and deepen our reservoir for those Chinese advertising campaigns that marketing's been talking about. And it would be great PR on both sides of the ocean. We'd be the company that sent a Mandarin- speaking VP to live with Chinese nationals to see what they're like, to learn what they need. It's the ‘we care about the common man' angle. It would impress the Chinese, our board, stockholderseverybody. A big image-booster for Getz. The advertising potential is enormous. Ben or Jeffrey could end up in a prime-time commercial sitting next to some Chinese guy grinning at his computer!"
The other members of the management team looked at each other to see which way the wind would blow. Then they all stared at Ben. He hesitated. But when Martin felt this strongly about an idea, it nearly always happened. You might as well go with him and look brilliant and loyal. Everyone nodded.
"Anyway, more on that later," Martin said. "Let's hit the agenda. Our third-quarter profits are going to blow them away. When this hits Wall Street, things are going to fly. Hold on to your hats, boys. Your profit shares could increase ten percent overnight."
An hour later Ben walked out of the conference room, glad-handing his associates and feeling the warm rush of competitive adrenaline. As he came out the door, he saw Doug Roberts standing by a photocopy machine. His stomach churned. He looked at his watch.
Conference call in six minutes. "Doug," he called, "meeting'll have to wait until Monday morning. My office, 7:30."
"Sure. But what are we going to"
"7:30 Monday. My office. I've got a conference call."
Ben strode past his secretary, Jen, and into his office. He shut the door behind him and flopped down on the plush visitors' couch.
Until their lives took different turns, Doug had been not only family, but a close friend. Ben knew he couldn't afford to think of him that way anymore. And if Doug still considered Ben a friend, well ... he wouldn't much longer.
What People are Saying About This
Meet the Author
Randy Alcorn is the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). He is a bestselling author of over forty books, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, and the 2002 Gold Medallion winner Safely Home. Visit his website at www.epm.org.
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A good friend recommended this book to me several years ago, and then I recommended it to everyone else! basically, it gives you heavenly perspective - and the author is so incredibly skilled in describing what it's like to be the VP of a huge semiconductor company in the U.S., but also what it's like to be a Chinese native who has the chance to attend Harvard due to a series of mysterious events and God's grace and intervention. This would be an awesome book for book clubs to discuss, and let me just warn you, that it's a tear-jerker and will forever change your view of heaven, and how relevant considering heaven is to our life on earth... especially the part about how the saints are up there praying for us, and vested in events here on earth. Wow!
This is a book every American who believes in the American dream should read. From a Christian perspective, the author has challenged me to appreciate the freedom of worship we have in the USA and the importance of prioritizing my relationship with God. This is the best book I have read in a long time.
For me this has been the richest read of several years. In a brilliantly woven story, the author tells a gripping tale of a self-absorbed business executive transplanted into the heart of an underground church in China. The life-changing power of the Word of God is never more evident than in a place where that Word is suppressed. The unappreciated treasure of almost unlimited choices in translations in western culture, where we choose a Bible for the colour of its cover, then let it gather dust, has rarely been better illustrated than in this book that is both a literary and a spiritual treasure. If any book besides the Bible itself deserves a MUST READ label, this is one I would put that label on without hesitation.
I have read this book three times. Each time my faith in God has been made stronger; I keep learning new truths from the writng of this gifted Godly author. Rarely have I read a novel twice, but this book reached my heart and changed me. I pray differently now. I beg God to let my life honor Him rather than self...all from these pages of skilled story telling.
"Real Gold Fears No Fire." This book was tough to read for me - but in the best way. It was enlightening, eye opening, moving.... Ben Fielding and Li Quan were roommates at Harvard back in the day. Following Ben's example, Li Quan becomes a Christ follower and eventually returns to China. Ben gets married and has kids, drifts away from God, becomes very successful in business - then gets divorced and is generally disillusioned in life but just can't figure out why. Li Quan goes back to China, marries, and has his one 'allowed' child. He continues his relationship with Christ and in fact risks his life and livelihood to participate in the underground church in China. Ben is required to travel on business to China and asks if he can stay with Li Quan and his family, for research. He quickly discovers that after 20 years things are very different than what he expected, and the longer he stays the stronger his convictions that things in China need to change. I strongly recommend this book. Especially if you live in the US, your eyes will be opened to the differences and lack of freedoms that many other countries experience.
Wealthy American business man Ben reconnects with his Chinese college roommate on a business trip to Shanghai. Twenty years ago at Harvard, they were inseparable. Now, their friendship is being tested in modern China, and bonds forged over study breaks must either snap or become the catalyst for a new way of life. I had no expectations picking up this novel; the title is less than descriptive, and the cover summary does not shed the insight one might expect. The writing style is very quiet, preferring to let the characters and events speak for themselves. The setting moves between three distinct worlds. The set of characters is stable, and clearly defined. And the result is a passionate outcry in defense of Christian faith in the face of aggressive persecution. Much of the narrative occurs in dialogue format between the two protagonists. And the two discuss everything: linguistics, business, politics, economics, food, culture, history, relationships, commitment, and of course, religion. As the novel progresses, these conversations simultaneously drive, explain, and predict the plot. Reading these passages begs for comparisons to the Book of Job, Pilgrim's Progress, and portions of work by C.S. Lewis; and like these books, the heaviness you hold in your hand is a poor measure of the weight of the subject matter discussed within. For me this novel fulfills what fiction is intended to be: the freedom to combine truthful experiences, facts, figures, and words into a fictional context, opening the door to a larger reality than reading the statistics alone would allow. With its truly life changing potential, I would recommend this book to anyone who values asking questions as way to learn. I sincerely hope this book goes on to become a christian classic. It has certainly found space on my book shelf.
I have picked this book up on several occasions times at the library, yet had never read it. Like so many books that "you are simply meant to read", this title has continued to "pop out" from the shelves as I searched for something to read over the past several years, and finally hooked me this past week. What a week it has been! I am a Christian who often struggles to truly live as a Christian in a very materialistic and secular world. This book is an inspiration to me, providing a model in the character of Li Quan of what how Christian is supposed live and act - with courage and conviction. In the face of immense opposition and persecution he remained true to his faith. The novel conveys very well the lengths to which Christians in China must go to practice their faith and the risks they take in staying true to their beliefs. It also serves as great reminder of the gifts we have been given as a society, that these are not "blessings" granted to chosen or favored souls, but, instead, are the treasures of Christ, bestowed upon us with the obligation that we use our wealth and health in the service of Christ, not the endless pursuit of amusement and pleasure. This is a quick read that will spark many moments of reflection about life and faith in the modern world.
This story opens with "Is this the day, the day I die?" What would you do if your home was taken from you, your spouse swept off to an unknown place - a prison, and you are left to rely on the support of others to live? What if they were sent to jail simply because they were a Christian? And what if situations like this actually existed in the world? They do. Such a situation is portrayed in Randy Alcorn's book, Safely Home. Persecution is the focus as we see Quan smuggling in Bibles, meeting secretly in the middle of the night for worship services, and risking their very lives to worship Yesu. Ben is at first skeptical to Quan's ways of worship but when tragic events unfold in their lives, Ben is affected personally, and their lives will never be the same. Safely Home is an excellent book, masterfully written and compelling as it unfolds. Randy Alcorn brings the reader into the experiences as he combines a life of persecution with the promise of hope and heaven. In a day when books in the Christian market are all trying to point consumers to the "secret of prayer" or "steps to true intimacy with God," Safely Home actually shows a portrait of Christians who have already attained intimacy with God through their hope despite persecution. I found myself almost envious. The most profound moment of this book was a scene where Ben Fielding has bribed the jailors for a quick moment with Li Chuan. Ben sees the scars from the numerous beatings Li Chuan has endured while in jail. He is amazed as Li Chuan smiles, displays a peaceful coutnenance and reports that he has lead several men in the prison to salvation through Yesu. The two mean exchange how they have been praying for the other. Ben Fielding says he prays that his friend suffer no more persecution. Li Chuan says that he prays that Ben Fielding encounters more persecution because it would bring him closer to Yesu, Jesus Christ. I wonder to myself as I pray for the persecuted church, if they are not in turn, praying for the persecution of the western church for the same reason. Consider asking yourself the question "Is this the day, the day I die?". Embrace the changes in your perspective that follows.
I love the points he makes about sin. It really has made me think. And i have a question. Whay do people think it is funny to post stuff on the reviews that has nothing to do with the book? I really dont care about snowkit or whatever kitty got stuck up a tree.
This book is so fantastically written. It is life changing to realize just how much we take for granted and how much loving Jesus can cost. The reader is swept into a world where being a Christian is not only a deadly choice but a chance to live as Jesus lived. I could not put the book down and find it to be the BEST book I've read this year. It is a must read for anyone who believes that being a believer in Jesus is more than just Sunday morning service, it's being passionate about ensuring that everyone makes it Safely Home to the arms of Jesus. A must read!
I debated for a couple months on whether or not to get this book. The sample really did not give much insight to the book. I am so glad that I decided to get it because it is one of the best books I have ever read! It has really made me stop and think about how much a true believer is willing to endure and how dedicated to Christ we need to be in each and every aspect of our lives. We are so blessed in America to serve our God freely that we forget to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ that endure horrible persecution for their religious choice. I will definately be encouraging my friends and family to read this book! The story and moral are absolutely amazing! I could not put the book down.
I really enjoyed this book for several reasons. 1. It talks about being a Christian in China and how difficult and dangerous it is, even or especially today. 2. It helps with perspective in how to be a better Christian in today's business world. I found this especially thought provoking. 3. Finally, it was a good story. Well written and very thought provoking. This is a book I will read and reread.
What a wonderful story! I have such a better understanding of China and what true persecution looks like, and such a greater appreciation for the freedom we have in the United States.
I could not put this book down-it was amazing. A good friend suggested I read it and lent it to my via Nook. My eyes, thoughts, and heart were opened to so many things. I even found myself sitting in church asking God to give me faith like Li Quan. Even though they were fictional characters, the writing is so great that you almost feel transported to being right there. One of the biggest things I walked away with and will hold to in my life was the repeated family quote “Real gold fears no fire”- it’s a lesson in and of itself.
Don't miss this book! This book introduces facts about the Christians that are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. The story flow is awesome. One of my favorite books.
Since I lived in China for 5 years, this book really stirred my interest. Would you die for your faith? As you read this book you will discover that the hidden Christians in China have done and are doing this. Although this is a novel, it reads like fact and quite possibly is just that. When you see what the main character goes through to practice his Christian faith, you will ask yourself if you have the "stuff" to do the same for yours. It would be a very good book for a Christian book study discussion group.
One of my Favorite books ever! Randy Alcorn is an awsome fiction author - he always has an intersting storyline.
Read the paperback that I borrowed from a friend! I was blown away with the brilliant writing, the fascinating story, the strong faith and love of the persecuted and the great love of our Lord. I finished and gave the book back to my friend. I was planning on buying my own copy so I could underline, make notes and dog-ear pages! My husband bought me a Nook Color and I was excited to add Safely Home as my very first ebook! I HIGHLY recommend this book to everybody and anybody. If you get bored or weary of the oppression at any time don't give up! There are awesome surprises at the end. But to get the full impact of the ending you really need to be paying attention to what you are reading throughout! Wish there were more stars I could give! My new favorite!
This book will have an impact on your spiritual life. Safely Home also is an enjoyable read. The character of Li Quan is a great character and I have learned a lot from him. Every believer should take the time to read this book and should have one on his shelf.
I just finished Safely Home. This isn't the first book I have read about the persecuted Christians in China. Randy Alcorn's book back the reality of how Christians around the world suffer for the faith. It is obviously something that most American Christians have...and certainly not to give their lives for. Is that day coming? "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Jesus in Matthew 5: 11 - 12).
This is one book that every Christian in America should read. We take our Christianity forgranted and this book will open your eyes to the plight of the persecuted Christians around the world.
This was one of those most heart wrenching, eye opening stories I have ever read. Kodos to you Randy Alcorn! I just bought three more of your books, just because of this one!!
I I have had a 'heart burden' for the persecuted church for some time now. This book, as well as Jesus Freaks Vol 1 and 2, have certainly increased my knowledge of what our brothers and sisters in restricted nations face day to day. This book tells the poignant story of one family, in particular. You will be greatly impacted, I'm sure. Thankyou so much, Randy, for this wonderful book. Blessings to you now and in Eternity.
I just finished reading Randy Alcorn¿s book, 'Safely Home' and was profoundly affected by it. It has given me a perspective of the big picture, what is important and what our lives really should be about. It's only what's done for Christ that will last or be significant. Randy has brought this to our attention in such a compelling way. As the story reveals, people who know Jesus in other countries are risking so much to spread the Good News to others. They don't have the freedom to do it, but they can't be quiet about it. The painting by Ron DiCianni on the book¿s cover is also very moving. God was obviously directing both Randy and Ron in their work. This is a book you won¿t be able to put down once you begin reading it. When you finish, you will never be the same.
There are very few authors that I send the extra money to buy a book in hardback. Randy Alcorn is one of those authors. Ever since reading 'Deadline', I have been hooked by Randy and his ability to weave a tale. 'Safely Home' is a book that affects you on many levels. Take a young 'mover and shaker', place him in a foreign country and then take away all he has. This is Ben Fielding's story... on the surface. This is a book you will want to take your time and savor each page.