I want to thank Christian Focus Publications for providing me with a copy of Witness Men: True Stories of God at Work in Papua, Indonesia by Rebecca Davis in return for my honest opinion.
It’s not often that my kids cheer multiple times during the reading of a book. They laugh, they frown, but rarely do I see them clap, whoop, or shout “Go God!” while we’re reading. Yet Rebecca Davis’ new middle grade book Witness Men: True Stories of God at Work in Papua, Indonesia (Christian Focus Publications, 2013, Hidden Heroes series) is just such a book.
I wholeheartedly shared their enthusiasm for the story of how God moved through Papua, Indonesia. The tale of how the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus Christ swept that country is inspiring, humbling and–well, it’s worth whooping about…..
Rebecca Davis has done an amazing job of incorporating the stories of multiple missionaries (and even a professor at a Bible college) who gave their lives’ best (and sometimes their lives) in service of Christ as they shared the Gospel with multiple unreached people groups. Mrs. Davis’ theme of “God at Work” was evident throughout the book.
Witness Men isn’t a biography or even a set of biographies. This is the story of God’s Word reaching an island of people through the collective effort of many men and women and through God’s providential provision.
Mrs. Davis begins her story in 1938 with the Western world’s discovery of tens of thousands of tribal Papuans and ends with the Kimyal people finally receiving copies of the New Testament in their own language in early 2010. Throughout the book there are stories of individual Papuans, tribes and missionaries. It is amazing to see the transformation of entire tribes as the grace of God is understood and received. The title Witness Men refers to the newly Christian Papuan men who took up the cross of Christ and began to spread the Gospel to other tribes. The dark in Papua was so dark and the light of the Gospel so bright that Witness Men becomes an epic tale of good vs. evil, dark vs. light, and demons vs. the Creator of the Universe.
There is a “Thinking Further” section in the back of the book which includes Bible verses and discussion questions about each chapter of the book. I highly recommend utilizing this resource as you read. Also, there are nicely done pen and ink illustrations by Fred Apps throughout the book which break up the chapters.
I enjoyed this book (and the theme) so much, I intend to collect the other books in the Hidden Heroes series, and any that follow.
On a final note, you may consider reading it with your younger children so that you can discuss some of the more sensitive topics. Witness Men is written for children ages 9-12, or as a read-aloud for ages 7-8. You will want to be aware that the book discusses some darker spirituality. The Papuan tribes were animists and cannibals. Mrs. Davis is never graphic and I believe she handles this issue with care. There is mention (and explanation) of “power pieces” and shamans. Additionally, the missionaries must share the Gospel within the context of the culture they’re ministering to. This makes for some interesting Bible stories. Witness Men is not a “dark” book. It’s an exciting tale of God’s power and might over the forces of evil.
You can find Return of the White Book and the other Hidden Heroes series at Amazon (affiliate links):
- Return of the White Book: True Stories of God at Work in Southeast Asia (Hidden Heroes)
- With Two Hands: True Stories of God at work in Ethiopia (Hidden Heroes)
- The Good News Must Go Out: True Stories of God at Work in the Central African Republic (Hidden Heroes)
- Witness Men: True Stories of God at Work in Papua, Indonesia (Hidden Heroes)
- Lights in a Dark Place: True Stories of God at Work in Colombia (Hidden Heroes)
More Books for 8-12 Year Olds Reviewed at Thinking Kids
- Michael Faraday: Spiritual Dynamo by Derick Bingham
- Guarding the Treasure: How God’s People Preserve God’s Word by Linda Finlayson
- Tough Questions About the Bible by Joel R. Beeke
- Bugs: Big and Small God Made Them All by William Zinke
- Growing Up God’s Way For Boys by Dr. Chris Richards and Dr. Liz Jones
- Growing Up God’s Way For Girls by Dr. Chris Richards and Dr. Liz Jones
Thinking Kids Book Review Indexes
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- Christian Books for Preschoolers
- Christian Books for 4-7 Year Olds
- Christian Books for the Middle Grades
- Christian Books for Middle School
- Christian Books for High School
- Christian Books for Kids’ Devotions
- Christian Books about Parenting
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~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.