With not much more than a wing and a prayer, Audra Grace Shelby, her husband, and their three children headed off to Yemen to serve as Christian missionaries. Feeling God's call but uncertain as to how she could serve her new veiled neighbors, Audra Grace slowly reached out, prayed hard, and began to make a difference in the far East.
Written as a narrative story, this account follows her family from the application process through nearly all of their time abroad. Through serious illnesses, culture shock, severe weather and new languages, Shelby explains how her family adapted and reached out through many differences to share the love of Jesus with their new neighbors.
Shelby truly personalizes the culture through her story. Though many of us may be aware of some oppressive cultural customs that exist in the Middle East, we may not be aware of just how those are actually carried out - and how the women living under these restrictions really feel. This book will both make you aware of our Eastern neighbors and of their great need: need for love, need for prayer, and need for understanding, just to name a few.
Behind the Veils of Yemen would make a wonderful introduction to Muslim culture and the life of an Eastern missionary. Don't miss this book!
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for a free review.
A Woman's Risks to Bring Jesus to the Muslim Women
December 28, 2011
St. Paul, MN
Audra Grace Shelby, in her book, Behind the Veils of Yemen, describes the stark realities of how difficult it is to bridge a relationship in order to witness in a Muslim country. The first thing she did in order to accomplish this was to wear the customary garments of the Muslim women so she could blend in better, though word always seemed to advance before her arrival-a mussihiya [Christian].
Though her faith was challenged at times and she faltered, Audra learned to rely heavily on her trust in and prayers to the Lord to know what and how to do things, what to say, and when. Her personal encounters during a Muslim wedding, the treatment of Muslim women overall, and her personal doubts and fears are all penned to display their life in Yemen. Learning what the women wore under their outer garments was shocking, but gave me a bird's-eye view of women in general worldwide!
I must admit that at first I thought this was a simple book. But as I thought and prayed about it, I came to realize that I overlooked some simple and major issues. Thus my idea of going oversees to bring Jesus to Muslims has been broadened significantly as Audra dealt with the entrenched mindset of the people and their customs. Little did I understand the difficulties and accommodations that needed to be applied. It opened the door to understand better how to pray for a Christian witnessing in a land hostile to Christians.
The Shelby's love for the people compelled them to return to the region after their furlough. It reminds me of the verse, "_we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20.
I could easily recommend this book as a tutorial for training for missions to other countries. My thanks to Audra for being transparent in her time as a missionary.
This book was provided by Jim Hart of Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.
Kevin and Audra found themselves accepting the calling to go to Yemen to show the Muslims the love of Christ. Audra had a deep desire to get behind the veils of women to tell them about Christ. I was honestly impressed that she would wear the veil so to have a chance to be accepted by them and to be able to talk to them openly. She shares about what some of the women wear under the veil and I was actually surprised. I loved hearing the conversations between the women and Audra and I was very glad that Audra shared her own insecurities throughout the book. She shared when she doubted, when God was silent or when things weren't working as they had thought that it would.
The thing that stuck out to me is how she realized that we (I say we as Christians) weren't praying for the Muslims to come to know the Lord. She talks about how we're not as burdened for them to know Jesus as Lord. After hearing about the women, I understand more now about how the women are viewed, treated, and the conversations they have with their friends. It was interesting to see how they view sickness, and it was painful to see how a baby was mistreated. It was sad to hear how the men take advantage of the women in several ways and how even a woman dressed in a veil can still be looked upon by a guy and lusted after.
I would dare say that Christ followers need to read this book. After reading it, I understand more about how I can pray for other missionaries from the IMB (International Mission Board) who are serving in these areas and for Muslims, in general. It opened my eyes to things that I never realized or understood.
Audra and her husband, Kevin, along with their 3 (now 4 kids) were missionaries to Yemen and later on in Egypt. They have since returned to the U.S. so that their children could attend high school. They are very active in getting God's Word into the Middle East.
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review of this book.ï»¿
Answering God's call to become missionaries in Yemen meant that Kevin and Audra would pack up their entire family and immerse themselves in a new culture halfway around the world. This move also meant planting her family in a country entrenched in conservation Islam, a religion that had no respect for the Shelby family's own Christian values and beliefs. While Audra thought that she was ready and that she knew what to expect, she encountered things beyond her wildest imagination, both good and bad.
Beyond the Veils of Yemen chronicles Audra Shelby's experiences in Yemen; it tells the story of how one woman full of doubt and fear learned to rely on God and trust in Him. Audra beautifully tells the story of how she forged friendships with Yemeni women, discusses what they are like behind closed doors when they shed their veils and shares her heart for the Yemeni people. Story after story in this books shows how her family relied on and trusted in God and how He provided for them and met their needs. This story is written so honestly and passionately, the reader can really feel Audra's heart and soul poured into it.
I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the life Yemeni women; learning about some of their customs and culture was fascinating. Shelby never came across as demeaning or harsh in her telling of these things. I was amazed at how boldly she shared her faith at times, taking their circumstances and sharing how her belief in God gives her hope and joy. Though she may not have felt like she could see the fruits of her effort at the time Audra Grace Shelby has planted seeds in many lives.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.
To begin: When we consider the title of the book- or more specifically the subtitle- a myriad of questions spring to mind.
*Why would an American family go to Yemen as missionaries?
*How were they put into life threatening situations?
*How was her faith risked? and
*How did she reach out and reach behind those veils?
Those questions along with the cover art immediately drew me in and made me eager to discover what was inside. Unfortunately, by the time I reached the end I really wasn't sure what to make of what I had just read and I can't say I had any of my questions answered satisfactorily.
In the first two chapters of the book we are introduced to several different story lines. As the book opens Audra and her family are flying to the Middle East to begin their missionary journey. The story then jumps back to Audra's response to her husband feeling God's call to overseas missions- in Yemen. We discover that although she was raised on the mission field she is incredulous that God would be calling her husband- and her- to that as well. She resents this new direction and digs in her heels not wanting to follow her husband or God. When she finally 'gives in' it seems it is still with gritted teeth- an attitude I think continues in different ways throughout the book. From there the narrative again jumps, forward a bit, to the Shelby's missionary board candidacy interview where Audra's husband suddenly and unexplainable falls gravely ill. Audra is sent into a tailspin of doubt and anger with God, not understanding what is happening and why. As Audra prays in the hospital chapel she has a vision of God saying her prayers will be answered so she returns to her husband's bedside where he begins to improve. While I firmly believe that God speaks to us through His word and that 'still small voice' I don't know that today He reveals Himself literally as she seems to describe. For me it was rather uncomfortable reading such an 'experience'.
Overall, I'm not sure what this beginning part of the book is meant to convey and how it adds or becomes pertinent to the rest of the story as she only relates them as pre-events and not as a real means to say this is how God changed my heart and led us to his will for our future.
The next section of the book is chapters 3-10 and focus on an 18 month period where the Shelby's are in language school. Audra takes lessons with a newly married young local women, Fatima. This section, which is the bulk of the book, follows Fatima and Audra's relationship. They shop together; attend a Muslim wedding (where the men and women never meet and celebrate separately); they visit other women together and deal with Fatima's marriage, extended family and sick newborn problems together. Sometimes her attempts at influencing Fatima are good. When she discovers Fatima's husband is addicted to pornography -a vice that hurts his wife deeply- she reacts as any of us would condemning the action as wrong for any husband of any culture. When Fatima's first child is born with health issues that would be treatable here in the US but was ignored and passed over with a promise that if Allah willed the child would get better Audra is appaled. The diagnosis (or lack of one)breaks both women's hearts and for the first time Fatima opens up and asks Audra to pray for her son because she believes in the power of and behind her prayers.
This middle part of the book is mostly filled with stories that touch the reader as you get glimpses into the life of a Muslim women and wonder at the hopelessness and bondage of a culture against Christ.
The final four chapters of the book center around the Shelby's finishing language school and beginning over in their permanent city of ministry before going back to the States for Audra to give birth to their fourth child.
When I finished the book I thought "Behind the Veils of Yemen" read more like a excerpts from a personal journal than a inspiring missionary story. To begin with it isn't until the publishers note at the very back of the book that we begin to understand who Audra Grace Shelby is. From the beginning of the book we are thrown into her story without knowing or understanding any of her background that led her to this point in her life. Even after making plain her fighting to stay 'home' we are never given the whole story on how she and her husband came to the decision to go to the field. Once on the field we never settle into her life there and only get snippets of how her family functioned in a very foreign land. Through the course of the book it is never explained how Audra befriended the women she met/ministered to until the end when we learn it was through sewing- a detail that would have made so much more sense if explained earlier.
Also, Audra's attempts at sharing the Gospel and influencing Fatima with Western thinking often come off heavy handed (for lack of a better term) and she scares Fatima off in the beginning. Audra seems to expect instant results and that bothered me. Shouldn't a missionary know ministry on a field like this one is a long term thing where you build bit by bit? Also troubling to me was her seeming forgetfulness/lack of knowledge of some cultural customs that led to roadblocks. It made me wonder if they had been properly prepared for immersion into the culture. On the other hand I was suprised at her acceptance of customs like wearing the hejab and balto (cloak) which are religous symbols of Islam and mark her as being a subject of the very false religon that wars against Christianity. I believe she could have dressed in a completely modest way, giving deference to the culture, without compromising her own religous beliefs- and I wonder at the mission board (assumably) asking this of her.
In the end I felt that "Behind the Veils of Yemen" was not about any of the things I was promised in the title/subtitle. While I did learn a little more about Middle Eastern women this story isn't about these women- it's about Audra. Much of the story I was supposed to get is eclipsed by Audra's fighting God, Audra's fighting the culture, Audra's crises of faith,
and Audra's family's multiple health crises. It leaves the reader wondering where is Audra's relationship with God? Where is Audra showing He makes a difference as she reaches out to these Yemeni women? Where is the hope that sharing Christ should bring? And what was/has been the fruit if the Shelby's labour?
"Behind the Veils of Yemen" causes the reader to ask many questions but leaves them with answers to few of them.
Final Rating: Two Stars
I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.