What happens when persecution hits close to home?
In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister's sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom, the freedom that only comes when you trust God's sovereignty more than man-made security.
Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley is the sequel to Side by Side, and it further delves into the differing lives of the American Christians and the Muslim Sudanese. This book picks up almost two years after the first, and the time the reader experiences more of the persecution of Christians still seen in Muslim countries today. Mia and Michael have both matured as believers and as missionaries, and as the their door of witnessing opportunity continues to be opened, they also experience increased persecution and warnings from Muslims and other Christians alike. I enjoyed seeing how the two had matured and how they continued to trust God and His plan for them even in the midst of threats of tribulation. I loved how Scripture was interspersed throughout and how much Mia and Michael relied on God's Word and prayer. It was a great reminder to me how important staying immersed in the Word and prayer is to both a personal relationship with God and having an effective ministry. Mia also showed the power of God when she was able to forgive a fellow believer who was chastising them for sharing the Gospel so boldly. It was convicting to me to think about how we as believers can unwittingly hinder the spread of the Gospel sometimes when we do not trust and surrender to God.
Another aspect of the storyline is Rania, the younger sister of Halimah (from Side by Side), who finds out for herself who Jesus is and her response. I liked seeing how she learned more about Isa (Jesus) and in turn had to make a difficult decision about what was more important -her family or her new faith. It was interesting to see the role of women in a Sudanese Muslim household and the traditions held by their culture and faith.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. While the writing style and characterization were simplistic and predictable at times, I found the story's cultural background and settings to be eye-opening and the Scriptural references to be convicting. I could tell that these elements were based on real life events from the author's experiences, and it added a layer of reality to the story that made it very compelling. After reading about some of the struggles that many Christians face while living in Muslim countries, especially when they face persecution, I was further convicted to spend time in prayer for those who are undergoing these scenarios now. I received this novel from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.
Author of the captivating novel Side by Side, Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After 13 years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live.