Sep 18, 2011

In Every Place, Book Review

fourth in a series
In Every Place, Kim L. Abernethy's second book continues the account of her ministry where her first book In This Place left off.  I recently got a chance to speak with Kim about her upcoming book, due out in January, 2012.

A lot of the first book comes directly from Kim's journals.  The second book comes from her heart.   “A lot of it is etched inside me,” Kim said.  “When you write with your heart ... there are times I had to put the story aside for a few days.  I re-lived everything as I wrote.  We had moved to Pehe, a tiny village town that was a stronghold of demonic activity that I had never seen and have never seen again.”  Kim has to pause and collect her breath, “It was so oppressive.  And that's the town where my daughter turned one.  Writing about that three months was the hardest part to write about other than the death of my brother.”

After the civil war broke out in Liberia, the Abernethys were projected into relief ministry for the refugees just across the border in Pehe, the Ivory Coast.......
  Kim told me “We worked with people who were traumatized beyond my comprehension.  Today people are more sensitized to this, but in '91, the news didn't carry like it does now.  It was shocking.  They were broken and we were ill equipped to deal with all the physical needs.”

Kim's transparency is, I believe, what makes her books so amazing.  She doesn't pretty things up or gloss over the difficulties.   In Every Place tells the Abernethys' story through an eleven year period serving in the Ivory Coast, followed by a sabbatical, then 2 ½ years in Jamaica followed by three final years back in the Ivory Coast.   When it became clear that Liberia still wasn't ready for missionaries, the Abernethys came back home to the states.

Kim is brutally honest when she talks about those first few months back in the states:
“Four months of nothing.  Just silence from Heaven.  In retrospect, what we were supposed to have done during that time was to rest, debrief, recharge.  Instead, we were stressed... worried.  I came down with malaria and it took awhile to figure out what it was.  That was a dark, discouraging time.  Waiting is never easy, but sometimes it's what we are supposed to do.   God put us in the four month waiting period to rest, but we were anxious, people were asking 'what are you doing now?'  The American mindset is to jump from one thing to the next and keep moving.  We had just lost everything and were repeatedly faced with 'What are you doing to do now, brother?' questions and not many 'How are you doing?' questions."

“Sometimes,” Kim continued slowly, “You just have to be.  We're on a battlefield, we all are.  How do we treat soldiers when they come back?  There are some churches that think we missionaries are some kind of durable breed, something bionic.  Kim smiles as an arrow of truth is lobbed out into the sea of Christianity.

I asked Kim what she learned from her experience in Pehe, the town with such a strong demonic presence.  Big sigh.  “I wasn't in good shape after that.  I was bitter, overwhelmed when I came out of that town.  When you read the story you'll understand. There is no excuse for bitterness, but I am human.  It took me awhile to get it, but what I learned from Pehe is this:   
“I always thought of the negative stuff, but when writing this story I realized that in the midst of the darkest demonic oppression, it never dimmed His light.  He was still the Light of the World and people were getting saved.  Not as many as we'd like, but it didn't diminish God's glory.  It's harder to see from human eyes, but that scripture in First John -- 'Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.' --  that scripture took on a different meaning.  I saw the power of God manifested in places that looked humanly impossible."
So this second book carries us through an 11 year period in the Abernethy's ministry, right up to their new ministry at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.  It is during this ministry in Charlotte that my nephew met them, thrived under their teaching, and brought Kim's book to my attention.

I'm eagerly waiting for In Every Place, the rest of the story.  This post is the fourth in my series on Kim.  Read more about Kim in my other posts:

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