Sent by Hilary Alan is the story of a middle class suburban family who has everything that is important, in today's world and gives it up to find so much more.
Curt and Hilary Alan along with their two children, Jordan and Molly are living the American dream in North Carolina when Curt attends a seminar and their lives are drastically changed. In 2005, they begin to sell everything they have and began the long journey that will take them to Southeast Asia where the devastating tsunami hit in 2004. This is a third world country where the Muslim religion is taught and everything that Hilary and her family knew and believed was being questioned by them once they became emerged with a culture that doesn't favor the things that Westerners do.
Hilary Alan provides a story that is easy to follow and shares with us the feelings that she and her family went through as their lives were intertwined with people like Lee, Natalie, and Adele, among others that were put in their lives to help them and be a witness to them. Americans are not the only ones that can be an influence to others. I strongly believe that there are people that can be a big witness to us. Remember a witness is someone who shows us daily what life is all about.
Also, it is good to hear about the struggles that Hilary and her family had, and I'm sure still are having, in coming back to the USA and the changes that are taking place within their selves . I'm not glad they had major issues but I have a friend that has been in a third world country and I'm still seeing struggles that she is having to be with the friends and the country that is her second home.
I found this book to be very moving and inspiring. I laughed, smiled and cried while reading it. God calls us each to be the light in the darkness in many different ways. I have been on many mission trips that when I come home I long for the people that I had the privilege to get to know but I don't think that I'm called to go and live among them, at least not right now. God put them in my path for a reason. I'm just glad for many avenues in this modern world that we can stay in touch.
I have already bought several books to give to people that I know and also for our church library.
Watherbrook Multnomah Publishers has provided me a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
Wow. Have you ever read a book that was so amazing you had a hard time putting it down. Sent by Hilary Alan was that kind of book for me. Hilary and her husband were strong Christians who lived a comfortable life, yet they knew there was more to life than just earning money and trying to get ahead. They wanted to hear from God and when they did the two words, "Follow Me" changed their lives forever. Selling everything they had and moving their family to a war torn, Muslim province in Southeast Asia that had just been ravaged by the tsunami they found out the true joy and peace in obeying these words and finding joy that was unmatched.
I love how in Sent, Hilary Alan doesn't make you feel like you must go and be a missionary, yet she compels us to ask the Lord, "Am I doing everything You have called me to?" A question every believer should be asking continually. Hilary Alan contradicts the thought that "the safest place to be is the center of God's will." She proves in her testimony that sometimes God ask us to go to war torn, tsunami effected areas so it is not necessarily safe, but "The center of God's will is absolutely the most peaceful place and the most obedient place to be." (pg 37)
Sent is not a book that is just about one person or a couples call to go be missionaries, but about how God called the whole family to be lights and to go across the world for Him. I love how her whole family is included and involved not only in the decision process but also in the life they lived while in Southeast Asia. Hilary Alan shares what it is to be a mom who is called to a life that not only is she unsure for herself but for her children as well. She shows how God will call the whole family, as a group and individually and how what seemed could be a sacrifice became a blessing instead.
"Following Jesus in obedience is worth risking our life, because His is that trustworthy." (Sent, pg 34)
The message of Sent: How One Ordinary Family Traded the American Dream for God's Greater Purpose by Hilary Alan can be summed up by the quote above. The book tells the story of how the author's family, led by their sense of God's purpose for them, left the comfort of their life in upper middle class America to serve as relief missionaries to tsunami-torn southeast Asia.
There are a number of very powerful and challenging aspects of the book that will leave the reader praying for clarity of God's will. Ms. Alan does not assume that everyone is called to leave their current situation in life and head to the mission field. She is also very careful to make clear that her family is not more holy than any other family because of the decision they made. The who point of her story is to challenge everyone who follows Jesus to seek the will of God for their lives. This seeking, however, may require us to get out of our places of comfort and sacrifice for the Kingdom of God. When we answer the call of Jesus to "Follow Me," this following will often lead to holy sacrifice rather than the ease of the American dream.
I found the real heart of the book and the most compelling stories in the second half of the book. Once she begins to tell of their encounters with people in southeast Asia, we begin to see what following God looks like. What was extremely compelling to me about this section was that she doesn't paint a picture of instant revival or easy "conversions" as she and her family build relationships with the local families. Instead, we see the Alan family giving small glimpses of Jesus to people who have a misconception about who Jesus is. This is refreshing and, to me, is a story many of us need to hear.
Ms. Alan's writing was, at times, a little difficult for me to read. I felt her sentences were awkward from time to time and this may be why I struggled connecting to the first half of the book. But in spite of this, I found her family's story challenging and a needed call to many of us who claim to follow Jesus in the United States to truly ask what it means to "follow" and then be SENT.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
What would it be like to leave everything you own, your friends and family, and the comforts of living in the United States to travel halfway around the world and live in a 3rd world country? A country devastated by a tsunami. A country where you can't speak or understand the language.
Would you do it? Would you do it if you had kids in middle school and high school? Would you do it if your kids had to give up their passions, at least for the time you were overseas? Would you do it if the third world country where you were to move was hostile toward Christians?
Would you do it if you felt like God was calling you to do it?
These are the questions that Alan family struggled with as they felt called to give up their comfortable life in North Carolina to help the people of Southeast Asia rebuild their community after the great tsunami of 2004.
The Alans lived a comfortable life. They made a good income. They had a nice home. They were active in their church. But when God called them to move to Southeast Asia, they sold everything they had, packed up their children, and answered the call.
Sent: How One Ordinary Family Traded the American Dream for God's Greater Purpose is Hilary Alan's account of the call, her family's time spent in Southeast Asia, and the way God changed her family while they were there. She recounts their struggles and their triumphs. She shares about the difficulty transitioning to another culture, one that doesn't accept Christians readily. And she shares how that culture changed her_and how her family changed the people.
Sent is an inspiring story. The Alan family isn't a spiritual super-power of a family. They are a family much like any family you see in church on a given Sunday. A family like yours. Like mine. And when God called them to do something radical, they stepped forward in faith and did it. Despite their fears. Despite the fact that their kids were at a "bad age" to make a major move. Despite the fact that God's call seemed to be too difficult.
I really enjoyed reading about the Alan's experiences in Southeast Asia. Some of the stories Hilary Alan tells are amazing. God provided not only for their needs, but their wants. He taught them to slow down. To appreciate the few Christian comrades in their community. To rely on God like never before.
Sent made me really evaluate my life. If God were to call me to drop everything and go overseas, would I go? I'd love to say yes, but I can already hear the voice in my head saying, "But I have a high schooler." "But I have a toddler." "But I don't have the money." Excuse after excuse after excuse.
Hilary Allen, through her book, shows that if God calls, he provides a way. As she says in Sent, "_obedience is not always easy, but obedience is always best." (p. 216)
Sent is a quick and easy read. At the same time, it's a thought provoking book, because it challenges the reader to evaluate her own life and what she would be willing to give up to serve God.
Do you want to be inspired? Do you want to be challenged? Do you want to see how God took an ordinary family and used them mightily in a community halfway around the world? Then you need to read this book!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.
You ever wonder how foreign missionaries can give up everything to live and minister overseas? Or, what they are really thinking when they DO decide to go overseas? I've often wondered these things as well as thought, "could I ever do it?"
Could you do it?
I mean what about my kids? Would it be a wise thing to move to some remote third-world country with my kids as young as they are?
What about my family? We intentionally live only a few hours from our families because we enjoy spending time with them. Could I get used to living halfway across the world and only seeing them once every few years?
What about my friends? Who would I be able to talk too when times get tough? I mean I know "God" and "my husband" are the obvious answers but still, I would really miss that face-to-face interaction with some of my friends whom I hold so dear.
All those things we hold onto...could you do it? Could you really give it all up if God were to call your family overseas?
Hilary Alan has faced and asked those exact same questions of herself and her family. Her husband was at the top of his field, they were raking in the dough, and living the American life big time. And they gave it all up. Yes, all of it. They sold EVERYTHING and went to one of those unnameable Muslim dominated third-world countries halfway across the world with their two teenage children all because of two words--"Follow me."
I became immersed in her story as she shared all the events leading up to their departure, their time in training, and their adventures overseas as shared in her book, Sent. It was a easy read that I finished within a few days just because I couldn't put it down.
In addition, I gathered so many applicable quotes from this book, it makes me want to read it again. For instance...
"Try to recognize people not as interruptions...but as someone God has put in your life."--Hilary Alan
Or how about this one...
"Your life indictates what's important to you by what you are willing to give up."--J.D. Greear
Probably the part of the her story that pricked my heart the most was where she shares the story of her teenage daughter who was at the top of her ballet class. She was going to have to give up her dream to be a ballet star for the sake of her parent's calling to overseas missions work. It nearly broke my heart. I mean, could I really do that to one of my daughters? Ask them to give up something dear and precious to their life for the sake of spreading the gospel? It's one thing for me to go and give it all up, but to ask your family members to join me?! Oh how it would tear at my soul.
Without giving away too much of "the rest of the story", her daughter ended up getting to pursue ballet after all and Hilary can't wait to return to the field. Hilary shows time and again, how God is so good and how He loves to show us just how awesome He is when we answer His call.