The Scent of Water: Grace for Every Kind of Broken

( 16 )

Overview

Follow Naomi as she talks to women working in brothels in Mumbai; survivors of an Indonesian tsunami in which more than 160,000 lives were lost; a young girl waiting on an operation to save her life; and victims of domestic violence horrifically burned by fire. Be still with her when she realizes the pain she feels in the face of these extreme injustices reveals a common struggle that exists within all of humanity. And rise with her as she wrestles with confusion over her identity, comes face to face with ...
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Overview

Follow Naomi as she talks to women working in brothels in Mumbai; survivors of an Indonesian tsunami in which more than 160,000 lives were lost; a young girl waiting on an operation to save her life; and victims of domestic violence horrifically burned by fire. Be still with her when she realizes the pain she feels in the face of these extreme injustices reveals a common struggle that exists within all of humanity. And rise with her as she wrestles with confusion over her identity, comes face to face with redemption, and then begins to understand her own story … and to find her calling.

The Scent of Water will open your eyes to the complexities of the world, showing you pain can also be beauty, and how each are found in the unlikeliest of places.

Zacharias doesn’t have all the answers. But she has hope and encouragement that will empower you to find and begin the adventure of your life.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310327370
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 2/15/2011
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 643,193
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Naomi Zacharias graduated from Wheaton College. After working in sales for Coca-Cola, she joined RZIM and launched Wellspring International, an initiative devoted to providing financial grants to international efforts working with at-risk women and children. Naomi has spent time in red-light districts in The Netherlands, India, and Thailand; foster homes for children affected by HIV/AIDS throughout Asia; hospitals providing surgical treatment for women who have been victims of violence in the Congo; women’s prisons in South Africa; displacement camps in Indonesia, Uganda and Pakistan; areas of the Middle East offering aid to Iraqi refugees; and areas of Southeast Asia devastated by the tsunami of 2004. Naomi recently met and married her husband, Drew, in Florence, Italy.They currently live in Oxford, England.

Naomi Zacharias graduated from Wheaton College. After working in sales for Coca-Cola, she joined RZIM and launched Wellspring International, an initiative devoted to providing financial grants to international efforts working with at-risk women and children. Naomi has spent time in red-light districts in The Netherlands, India, and Thailand; foster homes for children affected by HIV/AIDS throughout Asia; hospitals providing surgical treatment for women who have been victims of violence in the Congo; women’s prisons in South Africa; displacement camps in Indonesia, Uganda and Pakistan; areas of the Middle East offering aid to Iraqi refugees; and areas of Southeast Asia devastated by the tsunami of 2004. Naomi recently met and married her husband, Drew, in Florence, Italy.They currently live in Oxford, England.

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Read an Excerpt

The Scent of Water

Grace for every kind of broken
By Naomi Zacharias

Zondervan

Copyright © 2010 Naomi Zacharias
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-32737-0


Chapter One

great expectations

When I was little, I sat in red flannel pajamas with footies, curled up next to my mother as she read to me the stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. I listened intently as my mind was captivated by the wonders of fairy godmothers with magical wands, adorable mice, and battles waged against evil and envy and all that was ugly in life. My eyes widened every time good triumphed over evil (in the end), the hero always got his girl, and they lived happily ever after.

As my dreams began to take shape, I, too, believed that life would turn out as it seemed it should: that darkness and evil would not prevail over the "happily ever after" that was mine. And when my life did not turn out the way it was supposed to, I felt I had been played for a fool. Life was certainly no fairy tale, and although cynicism was an obvious escape from the ache, I could not quite commit to it. I nostalgically looked back to the time, the hope, when I believed that life would imitate the storybook.

Modern-day fairy tales don't tell us the real story. They don't even tell us the rest of the story. They don't tell us what happens when the prince does not show up in time, or how to endure the potency of a poisonous apple. The End often appears in cursive at the point that the real story would begin. It is what nearly breaks the protagonists, what sometimes does break them, that is the real story. But it is not one for the faint of heart.

I felt great animosity for my own life, and when I referred to it with disloyalty one day, my father quietly said, "The shortest route is not always the best route." And when I was discouraged by the recognition that I had only a flawed story to offer to another, he released me into a truth: "There are no such fairy tale loves. The garden of Eden proved that," he wrote to me. "Love has to battle through. In fact, if it has never had to, one wonders if it can be true."

I can't be alone in longing for the fairy-tale life, and as I read the stories, I realized that perhaps we should all be careful what we wish for. To my surprise, as I fed my fairy-tale obsession and buried myself in research of famous narratives, I discovered it was not the fairy tales that had failed me. Clearly we have since watered them down to minimize the decidedly uncomfortable, but the original fairy tales actually affirmed my father's words to me. They were filled with lions and tigers and very grown-up darkness that actually offered critical insight into life.

In the 1800s, the Brothers Grimm published their story of Sleeping Beauty, which began with the birth of a beautiful baby girl. To share their excitement, her parents, the king and queen of a land far, far away, threw the grandest of parties. But they made a critical mistake when they forgot to invite a certain fairy to the celebration, and the scorned fairy retaliated by placing a curse on their child: At the age of sixteen, she will prick her finger and die.

A good fairy was not able to erase the curse, but she could alleviate the ultimate of horrors. Instead of death, the prick of her finger would incite a deep, deep sleep. The better of the curses also allowed for an escape clause: A love, true love, that was pure could awaken her. Thankfully, Sleeping Beauty was lucky enough to be awakened by such a true kiss, and all was as good as new. Or was it? She had been sleeping, waiting, and under the curse for one hundred years. During that time, her mother died from a broken heart and her fairy advocate twiddled the entire kingdom into a deep sleep to try to preserve some semblance of her life should the princess ever awaken. There was suffering—and not hers alone.

Ariel lost her majestic voice. Rapunzel wandered aimlessly in a desert wasteland for years in misery while the prince and father of her children was rendered blind and did "naught but lament and weep" over the loss of his wife. Cinderella was first orphaned, then enslaved before she tried on the glass slipper that changed her world.

We want the good part of the fairy tale, the culmination of all things good; and with such idealism, we have only preserved the idea of happily ever after. On the screen and in our minds we have rewritten the stories and forgotten about the battles the heroines chose to fight. The resolve is only significant because of the magnitude of the darkness. It required a love and justice that were extraordinary to redeem what had gone so awfully wrong. The love that was grand is powerfully intoxicating. But we have chosen to overlook the pain and the price that the players paid to find it.

The flaw is not in the stories themselves or in the restoration they portray. The flaw is in the happily ever after, since real life does not always end in such a way. Yet of even this fantasy we were carefully warned. The Grimm's Brothers' conclusion of Sleeping Beauty provided a caution: "They lived happily ever after, as they always do in fairy tales, not quite so often, however, in real life." It was the only disclaimer, the distinction made between real life and fantasy, for the rest remained quite realistic.

In his book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton penned a chapter he cleverly titled "The ethics of Elfland," in which he claimed there are two requirements for every fairy tale. The first—one he calls the doctrine of conditional joy—is the necessity of the "if." If you don't return by midnight, the coach will go back to being an ordinary pumpkin. The second rule is what Chesterton calls the fairy godmother philosophy: The condition stipulated cannot be questioned. He further explains that no one can ever ask the fairy godmother, "how come?"—for to do so, he warns, would only beg another question. To ask, "how is it that I must leave the ball at twelve?" the fairy godmother could rightfully answer, "how is it that you are going there until twelve?" The rule is essentially this familiar bit of clichéd advice: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." In the case of fairy tales, we cannot require an explanation for the supernatural. The acceptance of the inexplicable is simply the way it works to be in the presence of miracles and mystery.

In real life, we would now do well not to draw our conclusions to an expectant close. When there is the chance of a miracle, but no guarantee of such, there will certainly be the alternate possibility of disappointment, fully explainable reality, and pain. This present world is not the best of all possible worlds. It is just the best of all possible means to the best of all possible worlds. heaven is the happily ever after. Until then, we still live with frogs and century-long naps.

There is, however, a "once upon a time." There are evil and heartache. There are darkness and our own dragons to fight. There are not the likes of singing mice, but there are details equally miraculous. More miraculous.

I wanted to leave the familiar—my own evil and heartache—and find people who were the most vulnerable; to be where something was tragically broken that was not me. It was not to feel comforted by seeing the pain of another, but rather to feel another's pain. I needed to exist outside of my own. Smooth and flawless held nothing to comfort me, nothing to teach me, and nothing to fill me.

The reality is that I was running from something I could not fix, a self I could not forgive, and a story I could not accept.

* * *

This is a story; it is not the story, for no life can be characterized by a single story. It is one that I started to see unfold when I walked into an unlikely room to listen to the story of another. It is not neatly packaged. It is far from tidy. But I do not need the balm of cynicism to endure its pages. Because it has been significantly rich. And because it is mine.

In his biographical novel of Michelangelo, Irving Stone unveils a discussion between the young apprentice and his teacher, Bertoldo. "To try to understand another human being, to grapple for his ultimate depths, that is the most dangerous of human endeavors," the instructor counseled as he brushed strokes of wisdom on his student.

So I start with the ever-important beginning that is mine and yours to claim.

Once upon a time ...

Chapter Two

objects of fantasy

Once upon a time, I walked into a brothel and met a girl named Annie. I was not there by accident, but it was not a room I deliberately set out to find either.

I had been nervous the last time I was there as I walked down those narrow cobblestone streets, aware of the dark shadows against the brick exteriors of buildings that were deceptively beautiful. But once inside the door, I stood in a dimly lit maze of sparsely furnished rooms that each contained a woman who was for sale.

The first time I saw Amsterdam's world-famous red-light district, I found myself unable to articulate intelligent sentences for the next several days. I had previously been to the brothel-lined streets in Mumbai, India, where over 70,000 women worked in prostitution. They were behind bars, eyes of chestnut and onyx piercing the shadows. The streets in Mumbai were dark and ominous, and there was a sense of something that should remain hidden.

In troublesome blazing contrast, the district streets of Amsterdam were filled with blinking neon lights so you couldn't miss a detail, even if you wanted to. There was laughter, a sense of overt celebration. An old church sat empty and quiet near its center, a haunting suggestion that perhaps life here hadn't always been this way. Loud music filled my ears; fountains were lit with floodlights; bouncers tried aggressively to direct me into bars and theaters. Four hundred windows lined the streets, each with a red light overhead and a woman behind it for sale. They were all ages, including young girls whose papers claimed they were the legal age of eighteen but whose baby-smooth skin and wide eyes suggested otherwise. There were also women in their sixties who had worked there for years, a lifetime of standing behind their windows each night, waiting to be chosen and paid. The women were arranged like products in a store, each nationality on a particular aisle, as it were. To find girls from Africa, head to one end of the street. All of the girls from Hungary were on the next corner. I felt waves of nausea swirling inside me.

I was there to meet Toos, a woman who would quickly become my friend. She is the director of an organization called Scarlet Cord. Based in the red-light district, they are advocates for women both personally and legally and provide resources, counseling, and financial support to offer an option for a woman who wants to leave prostitution to be able to do so. They do not coerce; they do not use tactics of guilt. Their identified goal of liberating her to have an alternative is grounded in the belief that she is created by God and has intrinsic value that cannot be stripped from her and ought not to be exploited. The mission is not to tell a woman that prostitution is wrong and bring her out of sin; it is not to tell her all the things she is not. The mission is to affirm who she is.

Toos makes regular visits into the district each week. She knocks on the windows to introduce herself to girls working in the brothels. She leaves a business card and oftentimes a Bible or literature telling the true story of a girl who one day left the district for good. Over time, she builds a relationship with them, and icy expressions are transformed into sincere smiles when they see her familiar face. She walks through the streets boldly and without fear, seemingly oblivious to the looks her beauty draws from men. She is there for the women, and her focus is entirely on them.

* * *

Walking around the district, I expected to see men who looked disturbed, who looked like they belonged in such a dark place. Instead, I saw attractive men of all ages and nationalities. I saw fathers with their junior high–aged boys, pointing in this direction and that, seemingly giving a lesson about the way things work in this other world that in reality is just a part of town. I heard a man on his cell phone explaining to his wife that he was caught in traffic and would be home late that evening. I pushed through gatherings of guys and ignored their comments, pausing to glare at them with angrily offended eyes. There were four hundred women available to them, albeit unfortunately, but even that wasn't enough, and they behaved inappropriately to any woman they saw who was not available to them. Behavior they wouldn't consider displaying if we had passed each other on the street five blocks away was demonstrated without the slightest hint of embarrassment in this all-permissive zone. It was supposed to represent freedom. So why was it that, as a woman, I felt anything but liberated?

I looked up to see a group of college-aged American guys laughing gregariously, high-fiving each other in congratulations after their latest conquest before they descended into a dingy theater where their eyes and minds would be filled with images of men, women, and sexuality reduced to something that exploited and demeaned all three objects and the viewers simultaneously. They believed they were there to use the women, and they were right.

I didn't know where to look, for as each woman stood with her body exposed behind a window, I did not want to disrespect her by looking. But I didn't want to disrespect her by pretending she was not there. I do not think many passersby stopped to look into her eyes, the lenses that looked out from a soul inside. No, it is easier to pretend she does not have one. I saw the large tattoo on an upper arm, another on the left hip, of a girl a few windows down. They were the symbols of her pimp, a type of branding to signify that she was owned. Each telltale design served to alert other pimps that she was not available to them, for her body was the property of another.

* * *

Back in the dark room of a brothel, I spoke with one of the girls, and she rolled her dark-blue eyes in disgust at the men. She spoke of their foolishness, their ignorance, and how simple it was to extract more money from them. "Particularly those American men," she scoffed. She believed she was there to use the men, and she was right.

Some of the girls were hardened. Some were clearly frightened. Some were visibly bruised. Some were angry. They were all affected. As I took in the whole scene, I was deeply saddened, for this was a place where every participant was asked to be less than they are.

I am always a bit confused when people ask me about a particular girl I speak of. They casually ask if she "chose" prostitution. If I note that she was not trafficked, there is a visible shift in their eyes and in their interest. This one is not our problem, body language seems to say as we draw conclusions about the woman who was trafficked and the one who is there "by choice." The inference is that a woman who is there by choice has, in effect, created her own circumstance. It becomes easy to wash our hands of her and judge her, affixing our own ID label to her person.

The distinction offers a technical explanation, but the application becomes problematic—in part, because as the details were exposed in story after story, I was not sure there was any real choice for any of those girls. If the same things had happened to me, I think I would be standing on the same side of the window. In any event, how she got there did not alter my reaction to her present circumstance. Someone's willingness to subject herself to something has never made a harmful act any less exploitive or relieved the offender of responsibility. If this were so, then neither should we intervene on behalf of the abused wife who chooses to endure beatings or the laborer who willingly goes to work in the sweatshop because he needs an income in order to eat.

The reality that we live in is rarely as simple as we want it to be.

* * *

Once upon a time, people believed the world was flat. I can't help but wonder if this perception would never have originated in the east, where a texture beyond topography is attributed to life.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias Copyright © 2010 by Naomi Zacharias. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. 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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Table of Contents

Contents

foreword: Dr. Bernice A. King....................9
prologue: the empty beach....................11
chapter 1: great expectations....................21
chapter 2: objects of fantasy....................27
chapter 3: the same side of the window....................41
chapter 4: wild tresses....................55
chapter 5: deep recesses of longing....................63
chapter 6: real faith....................75
chapter 7: shaping liberties....................85
chapter 8: perceptions....................97
chapter 9: enduring....................119
chapter 10: signs of life....................131
chapter 11: flawed pearls....................137
chapter 12: recognizing beauty....................147
chapter 13: heroic limitations....................157
chapter 14: humanity that heals....................165
chapter 15: baby steps....................183
chapter 16: the flavor of extraordinary....................193
chapter 17: a complete vision....................205
chapter 18: a fairy tale....................211
afterword: Jacoline's story....................217
acknowledgments....................221
notes....................222
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
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(9)

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2013

     This fine, poetic book by Naomi Zacharias is described best by

     This fine, poetic book by Naomi Zacharias is described best by it's subtitle. Grace for every kind of broken. 

    The title of the book comes from the Scriptures in Job,    about the tree whose stump is dead in the ground.
    "Yet at the scent of water it will bud..." The mere scent of healing and life will make a tree put forth shoots.
    What if the scent of Grace could be to the heart the scent of water?
    What if the scent of hope and healing could help a heart bud forth again?

    Sensitive is the word to describe Naomi's writing style, a sensitivity to the truth of Scripture and to the hurting human heart. This sensitivity should characterize us as Christians.

    Her love of India and other corners of the world God has made shine in this book. 
    Most of us will never see these places in our lifetime- Naomi takes us there. The people and the world they live in... the exploited streets of Amsterdam where girls with wide eyes stand behind windows for sale... the little boy selling colored scarves who trotted beside Naomi and asked her to buy him milk. 
    She tells us their stories... our stories. 
    As Naomi says, I would be the girl behind the window, if what had happened to her had happened to me. There is no difference between us.

    Once upon a time there was a  lady selling pearls. 

    She showed her customer round, common, pink pearls, all the same. Objectively beautiful pearls.

    Then the customer noticed a rare black pearl. It was not smooth, or pink. It caught the light and reflected it in a way the smooth pearls did not. The merchant saw the customers eyes on the rare pearl.
    "'Some people see them as flawed," the merchant said,"While others see them as special."
    The customer bought all four black pearls, in their uneven and unique beauty, and gifted them to friends of hers. One of those friends was Naomi Zacharias, and the little pearl became a metaphor for those whose life is not smooth, pink and flawless. Which is all of us. 
    In India there was a girl, Prema, who was burned as a child trying to make tea. She is now a reconstructive surgeon, head of the department at a Christian Medical College. She treats burn victims.  "As Prema sat across from me in a striking sari of pink and green, I was captivated by her.
    She exuded strength...something reminiscent of the architectural grace and genius of a pillar. She is a strikingly beautiful woman. It is not in spite of the scars, and not only because of them. A scar is not the source of beauty; it can only indicate the presence of of something that lies beneath its surface and guide you to its hidden depths. And in doing so, it becomes the symbol of beauty itself."
    In the Netherlands there was a girl forced into "legal" prostitution. The girl was a branded body to the men who use her and a statistic to the outside world. A statistic without a face, until Naomi met her. Then she was a wounded girl with a real name and an aching soul- sold into slavery by a man, unprotected by the government she lives under because she is now considered a legal prostitute. Her government is proud of its sadistic "sex tourism".  The government is not the one covered in bruises and demeaned every day by brutal attacks.

    The orphanage in South Africa there was a young boy was bound to a plywood board, his neck broken from being dropped as a baby. He could not move his head. But when Naomi stroked his cheek, tears rolled down his face, and his dark eyes turned to hers. He could not speak. "Words were lost in translation. But there was something that transcended limitations. It was a language, not of country or ethnicity or mental capacity, but of humanity; it was the power of human touch and the potential it carries to soothe a wound deep inside a soul."
    One upon a time a theologian prayed that God would break his heart for everything that broke God's own heart. 

    The pain and brokenness of the world certainly breaks our Father's heart. 
    This world has little time for broken people. 
    It teaches us to deny our brokenness, 
    to be ashamed of brokenness, 
    to hide from brokenness, to run from brokenness. 
    Instead the world peddles false strength, 
    false perfection, 
    and false idols. 
    But God doesn't want us to run from brokenness, to deny brokenness, to be ashamed of brokenness. "I thought I was running from something," Naomi writes, "As it turns out, I was running toward something. In the presence of things that were broken- dreams, intentions, ambitions, and human spirit-I found invaluable lessons in life in the vulnerability of Annie and her convicting questions; the integrity of greif and acceptance of Anna, the angst and perseverance of Mariam. These are present day examples of age old stories. These people have not established my belief in whom or what God uses, they were just revelations in real time of what God had already told me."
    Naomi's writing helps break our heart a little bit so that we can open up our own brokenness to His Grace. 
    I was blessed to receive my copy of Scent of Water from zondervan.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Must Read!

    As Naomi walks us into brothels, prisons, and devastation around the world, she reveals that life is not a fairy tale. What we all long for in life, as women, is the fairy tale ending of "Happily Ever After", however, life sometimes only involves an "ever after".
    Naomi Zacharias shares her own story of finding grace in the brokenness of her own life, as well in the lives of others as she travels around the world to look into the devastation and broken hopes of lives that long for the "Happily Ever After"
    The question that arose in my heart while reading the stories of the women in the brothels, the displacement camps where men begged for vegetables and children homes where babies were left while their mothers worked the streets was "Is God's grace sufficient?"
    Can God's grace cover such tragedy? Such heartache? Such hopelessness?
    The answer I struggle with is "Yes".
    I don't truly think American's know the utter, deep, despair that the world faces. We tend to close our eyes to such things.because we have been fed the "Happily Ever After" fairy tale for far too long.
    Naomi presents to us a challenge. It is a challenge to see the world in the light of the grace that God offers to those who are broken, imprisoned, and wanting to die. It is a challenge to offer that grace to those who do not know the scent of water.a living water, that is offered in God's Son, Jesus.
    I have received this complimentary book in exchange for my honest review from Zondervan. The opinions and view are my own

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    "The Scent of Water, Grace for Every Kind of Broken" by Naomi Zacharias This book was a very eye opening journey for me, the reader, while the author tells us her story of traveling around the world trying to help women and children where she can. This book is full of places from around the world, right to what is inside of us. I will say my review of this book does not even touch the surface of what she did, where she went, and what she, personally, got out of her travels and portrays as she tells us her story. The only way to get the true understanding of what she went completely and what she has to teach us from her experience is to read this book for yourself. This is a story of truth. It is a story of life and lives. It is of sadness, happiness, of learning, of doing. It is reaching out to others when no one else would even consider it, and people reaching out to us. Naomi goes through life learning her own lessons of life, and helps to teach us what she has learned. Naomi Zacharias has written a work of Non-Fiction, telling us about her life experiences starting at the young age of 23 when she went to work for Wellspring International, an outreach of RZIM. From the book, their foundation bases their values on Rescue, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Re-entry; helping individuals in need and existing organizations serving women and children at risk. Knowing that, you understand why she traveled and did some of the things she did. She has been all over the world to such extreme places, such as in Pakistan riding in a car with outside temperatures of 125 degrees, wrapped up, hidden in the dress of the area so the Taliban would not kidnap and take her hostage if they knew she was American, all in the name of helping people. She went to Amsterdam, Asia, India, and other countries visiting the Red Light Districts, trying to help the women who had become sex slaves of prostitution to try to help themselves get out. It is not something you can force these women to do, she says, as they must make their own choices to get out. It was not most of their choices to become sex slaves, but by the time Naomi would come across them, most of them could not get out or had children, and this occupation paid well. They had no friends or relatives to rely on for help, and could not return home as they had this title of "Prostitute" hanging over their heads, by no fault of their own. They had become a shame to their families. If only these families knew they had sent their daughters to this life by blessing them. This was amazingly eye opening to me. I knew of the sex slave industry, but I had no knowledge or the circumstances surrounding it. This part is not in the book, but, when Natalie Holloway disappeared, there was speculation that possibly she had been kidnapped into the sex slave industry. When I heard that, I thought no way. I was wrong. I now can see why people thought that. I did not know this happened so often, and to so many women, nor did I know how easily this can happen to any woman. I did not understand the extent of this problem until reading this book. One of Naomi's descriptions of how women are kidnapped or even fooled into the sex slave industry will never leave my mind. It was of an airline attendant who was romanced by a man who traveled often on the airlines she worked for. He brought her gifts every time he flew and was so nice to her. He eventually expressed his wishes to marry her and her fam

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias, will rock you to your core if you allow it. The thread throughout the stories is a testimony of lives refusing

    "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." - Dr. Martin L. King Jr

    It's no coincidence that The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias opens with the above quote. How aptly Naomi Zacharias reveals that we live in a world that harmfully perpetuates labels defining individuals by their flaws.

    "We do this to each other. We sentence someone who is already wounded to prison, forever defined and bound by a label we slap on them, one they can never remove or replace in our eyes."

    Our own sufferings can instill in us compassion to see that people do not become disqualified because of their life experiences rather released, into the grace and redemption of their story. This book reveals the transformative power of storytelling. Through Naomi's stories, we follow her down paths of brokenness all too familiar to our own lives, from the loneliness of singlehood to the shame of divorce. Yet as she wrestles through her own pain and questions, her eyes are opened to how her heartache fits into the greater picture of the suffering humanity endures, whether it be an orphan child, women in prostitution, oppression and exploitation of a woman or the man who lights himself on fire in order to escape what has become a hopeless world to him.

    She does not shy away from the challenges that one in this type of ministry faces and speaks humble wisdom when it comes to stewarding lives which have already been robbed of so much. Making sure that they do not go from one form of violence to another form of exploitation which may be "less dramatic but equally harmful". "What of carelessness, where the essence and spirit of a human being are compromised and manipulated for our own purposes? . It is what we do to another in romantic love, when we try to make them into something they are not, when we love them for our own sake and not their sake.. It also happens in the name of ministry when we try to shape someone into God's calling on our lives, into what we think she should be and because of what we have done for her."

    The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias, will rock you to your core if you allow it. The thread throughout the stories is a testimony of lives refusing to be labelled by their pain instead they proclaim a hope and a endurance which does not give up until God's glory is revealed.

    "Deep in the marble of myself I know
    A Prisoned statue waits. O dream and deed
    Yet unaccomplished! Take Thy chisel,
    Strike stone into statue, free me from myself.
    Until Thy scuplture makes me what I am."
    - E. Merrill Root

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Strong Woman with a Stronger Message

    This is not the kind of book that I normally enjoy reading; but then again, I am fairly certain that this book was not written with me in mind. In The Scent of Water (a phrase lifted from the book of Job), Naomi Zacharias has bound a compilation of essays developed from first-hand, real-life experience, and has graced each chapter with the wisdom and insight of one who has dedicated her life to support initiatives working to provide for at-risk women and children. She takes her readers on an intimate tour of tsunami-torn Indonesia, brother-ridden Amsterdam, and bride-burning India. But throughout each chapter she reveals so much more than the devastation of the world and the mistreatment of women everywhere: she reveals her own story and the development of her own calling. Zacharias shares honesty and insight like that of her father as she displays her own struggles of growing up and facing both the good and evil that makes up our world. While this book does not strike a chord with me as a man, it does speak to me as a human being---as a citizen of this world replete with suffering and chaos. It shows me that despite all the troubles in this world, I was brought here to my place for a reason. God has chosen me for a purpose, and I cannot sit back and let that purpose go unattained. The Scent of Water is a book written for women, and I would never suggest otherwise. But the message that Zacharias shares is one that is fitting for all: God offers "grace for every kind of broken."

    [I received this book free for review from Zondervan Press.]

    © 2011 E.T.

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