- Both these stories are couched in the hardship and fears of civil war. Mr March is away for 12 months and the story of his family reminds us of the trials of single parenting. Chrissie Chapman, an unmarried woman alone in Burundi, is able to adopt 3 children from this war-torn country. What stresses arise that cause both mothers to pray and seek the Lord for guidance?
- Mrs March gives her four girls a Bible to read for their spiritual nourishment, and the girls know the story of Pilgrim’s Progress quite thoroughly. How do the expectations surrounding their needs and prayers rely on this training? How do the responses of the four girls compare with Chrissie’s reliance on God’s word especially regarding fear, faith, and forgiveness?
- Both families are poor and yet seem to gain riches from God, who sends provision in their times of need. What were they able to achieve with God’s help?
- When sickness and calamity arrive God sends various help. When have you received this sort of help from the Lord in your own life?
- Each book has powerful stories of individuals and their different personalities and achievements. The girls in Little Women were based on the author’s own sisters. Who do you identify with in these stories and why?
- When Chrissie was in hospital at death’s door, she had an astounding experience of God. This led her to cry out to God “I want my life to make a difference”. Did this challenge you to think of your work for God and how he has helped you make a difference in your situation? What will the Lord challenge us to do at this stage of our lives? (compare the lives of the pastors, nurses, teachers and supporters who helped CRIB and the international school).
- Both families espouse hard work and trust in God. What experiment did Mrs March undertake to teach her girls the value of work? Have you ever tried this in your own home?
- Fifty three children owe their lives to Chrissie and her team, in the service of the Lord. Within our own families, how does this example encourage us to bring our children up to know and love the Lord, and what incidents in Burundi remind you of the privileges we have?
- The joy that music brings to the soul is mentioned in both stories. Were there particular words from these songs that ministered to you in your current circumstances, or have done in the past?
- Bible training colleges and camps are mentioned in Chrissie’s history which indicate that midwifery was not just about bringing babies into the world. Have you done any biblical training in your past and where did God lead you to use your training?
‘The night the angels came – miracles of protection and provision in Burundi’ by Chrissie Chapman.
Trained as a midwife, Chrissie Chapman went to Burundi in the eighties to open a maternity clinic and dispensary in a rural area of the country. She had been there just three years when a coup was declared, and the country descended into a state of civil war. It lasted for thirteen long years. During that time, God directed her to work with the orphans and widows. She started a centre for abandoned babies and traumatised children and saw the Lord performing remarkable miracles in the lives of people who had lost everything. Chrissie adopted three children herself, and has raised more than fifty others to young adulthood. Again and again she has witnessed miracles of protection and provision. When the war started Chrissie, her adopted children, and the health staff were living in a rural location on top of a mountain, in a healing centre, with maternity clinic and dispensary. Every night there was gunfire, and every day people would come seeking refuge. One night, she and David Ndarahutse, the mission director, were sitting praying amid the fighting, when David said, “Chrissie, look up.” There were dozens of angels standing on top of the walls of the healing centre.That was the night the angels came. “From that moment on,” Chrissie records, “I have never experienced or felt fear for my life.” Today Chrissie divides her time between Burundi, where she continues to care for the teenagers in her charge, and England, Canada and America, where she speaks widely about the faithfulness and power of God.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott at https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/514 or from the local library.
Following the lives of four sisters on a journey out of adolescence, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women explores the difficulties associated with gender roles in a Post-Civil War America.
- Born in 1759, William Wilberforce was described as a ‘glorious little child, a veritable cherub of twinkling luminosity’. Did you think that the early life of William was ‘unfair’ or the norm for that time? [His 14 year old sister died, his father died at 40, his mother fell ill and he went to live with his wealthy Aunt and Uncle in Wimbledon.] At Wimbledon he met John Newton.
- What sort of life did William lead in Cambridge, and who did he meet there?
- How and why did Wilberforce enter parliament at 21, and what did it cost?
- When William went to the French Riviera with Isaac Milner, what book did they discuss and how did it change William’s life?
- What was the ‘Reformation of Manners’ and how did it impact the political and social landscape in the late 18th Century?
- What started William on the path to speaking against the slave trade? How did John Newton advise him when he went through his ‘Great Change’?
- What was the Zong incident and how was it connected to the Middle Passage?
- Wilberforce wrote a book about Christianity which challenged the status quo. Did it have any effect on the English gentry?
- When Wilberforce married he brought his wife Barbara to the Clapham community. Are there places like that in Melbourne today?
- How did this biography impact you and what do you take away from it?
The subtitle of this book is William Wilberforce And The Heroic
Campaign To End Slavery.
Amazing Grace tells the story of the remarkable life of the British abolitionist William Wilberforce (1759-1833). This accessible biography chronicles Wilberforce’s extraordinary role as a human rights activist, cultural reformer, and member of Parliament.
At the center of this heroic life was a passionate twenty-year fight to abolish the British slave trade, a battle Wilberforce won in 1807, as well as efforts to abolish slavery itself in the British colonies, a victory achieved just three days before his death in 1833.
His conversion, described as The Great Change, occurred while he was wrestling with the moral dilemmas of the 18th century’s ‘civilized’ society. Religion had become empty with outward trappings but no real power or sincerity.
- Have you been to Iran or any Muslim country?
- When the girls’ flat was first ransacked, what stood out as a warning sign for their future treatment?
- The testimonies of these two Christian girls were described early in their story. What part of the girls’ testimonies had the most impact on you?
- The first time the interview/interrogation occurred with Mr Rasti he accused them of reading a distorted version of the Bible. He mentioned another ‘correct’ version was on sale in Iran. Have you heard this sort of objection before?
- What sort of women were in prison in Evin Jail and how was it run?
- How would you describe the legal proceedings in the girls’ case? What processes were deployed to deny the girls freedom?
- The book is dedicated to a girl called Shirin. Why was she in jail and what happened to her?
- A question as to whether God could see the plight of the prisoners, and why he seemed to do nothing about it was raised to the girls. How did they answer this?
- What privileges were the girls denied while in prison? How did they respond?
- What or who sustained the girls in one of the darkest, most dangerous places in the world? How did the girls react when they found out the world was praying for them and agitating for their release? Are there any lasting lessons for us to learn from these girls’ endurance and faith?
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh knew they were putting their lives on the line. Islamic laws in Iran forbade them from sharing their Christian beliefs, but in three years, they’d covertly put New Testaments into the hands of twenty thousand of their countrymen and started two secret house churches.
In 2009, they were finally arrested and held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, a place where inmates are routinely tortured and executions are commonplace. In the face of ruthless interrogations, persecution, and a death sentence, Maryam and Marziyeh chose to take the radical―and dangerous―step of sharing their faith inside the very walls of the government stronghold that was meant to silence them. In Captive in Iran, two courageous Iranian women recount how God used their 259 days in Evin Prison to shine His light into one of the world’s darkest places, giving hope to those who had lost everything and showing love to those in despair.
- Agnes describes her early life to Toti the Pastor. What do you think had the greatest influence over her character? Mistakes of her mother? Her foster parents? Her hard life as a servant? Guilt from the deaths she has seen?
- Both Toti and Margret heard Agnes’ story but each responded differently. Do you think the author made their interactions seem genuine?
- The sisters, Steina and Laurga, worked side by side with Agnes. Do the attitudes of the girls remind us of our attitudes towards prisoners, the homeless, asylum seekers or the non-believer?
- Natan is a shadowy figure until Agnes paints a picture of his desires for wealth, seclusion, abandonment and harassment including sexual abuse. Do you see the girls, Sigga and Agnes, as slaves or prisoners of their own desires for grandeur and their need for love?
- The farm life in Iceland was incredibly harsh. What part of the servant’s life made you most conscious of your own privilege?
- Iceland was a Christian country in 1828. The laws required criminals to receive spiritual counsel in order to prepare them for meeting their Lord. Do you envisage Toti could develop a pastor’s heart? Was the law able to be mercifully carried out?
- Are there any points in the story that concerned you?
- Did the ending give a clear picture of why these two ‘criminals’ should not be buried in consecrated ground?
- The landscape and the poverty seemed to be very much in the forefront of the story. What effect did they have on Agnes’ position?
- Was Agnes deserving of death?
In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men.Agnes is sent to wait on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson and his family, who are horrified and avoid Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the summer months fall away to winter, Agnes’s story begins to emerge. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn’t she? Based on a true story, Burial Rites is a deeply moving novel about freedom and the ways we will risk everything for love. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, and asks: how can one woman endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others? Google books
- Rifqa’s mother allowed her to use nail polish in secret. ‘I knew once I was old enough to pray I would not be allowed to use it anymore’ says Rifqa. Are there aspects in Australian Christian families which reflect this thinking? Were there forbidden things in your family which you were allowed to do as a child? (e.g. drink beer, tell lies, say rude words)? Is lenience a form of grace or a failure to instil good habits?
- When Rifqa suffered an injury how did the family respond? How do we cope with disability in our families?
- Early in her story Rifqa reveals she was sexually abused by a distant uncle. Rather than blame the perpetrator the family seemed to blame her. Later, similar responses seemed to come when violence caused bruising and absenteeism. Is this behaviour a defence mechanism or a product of a family history of abuse over generations, perhaps even cultural acceptance of violence?
- The difference between boys’ and girls’ upbringing was/is very marked in the Muslim family. Are there similarities in the Christian home?
- Rifqa was fascinated by the prayers of Christians. Have you ever experienced that fascination? Do you pray with visitors in your own home?
- Though Rifqa’s mother was an excellent cook and spent many hours preparing food, the family never ate together. Do you think eating together is important? How is it possible in this day of crammed activities to make this happen?
- When Rifqa met Angela what struck you as surprising in that relationship?
- What stood out to you when Rifqa became a Christian in secret?
- What emotions did you experience when Rifqa ran away from home?
- When Rifqa was confined to a Juvenile Detention Centre, an awful foster home, then suffered terminal cancer, did God’s plan seem to be for harm rather than to “prosper” her? Jer 29:11
Rifqa Bary grew up in a devout Muslim home, obediently following her parents’ orders to practice the rituals of Islam. But God was calling her to freedom and love. He was calling her to true faith. He was calling her to give up everything. Leaving Islam for Christianity cost her more than she imagined but gave more than she could have dreamed. Hiding in the Light is the story of Rifqa’s remarkable spiritual journey from Islam to Christianity. It is also the untold story of how she ran from her father’s threats to find refuge with strangers in Florida, only to face a controversial court case that reached national headlines. Most of all, it is the story of a young girl who made life-changing sacrifices to follow Jesus-and who inspires us to do the same. Teens and young adults will be moved by Rifqa’s story of standing up to religious persecution, literally giving up everything to follow her faith.