When Jana Kelly published Side by Side in 2015, I got the opportunity to review the book before it hit stores. It was great getting into the stories of Mia, Halimah, and Rania, and then to get deeper into their lives with the next book in the series, Door to Freedom. I’m excited to announce the third book in the series has just been released: Mercy Triumphs, and it’s just as great as the previous two. All three books can be read on their own, but it’s a much more satisfying story to read them all in order.
Mercy Triumphs continues the stories of Mia, Halimah, and Rania. Mia is settled in her life in Khartoum, continuing building and strengthening friendships, and maturing in her faith. Halimah works in a refugee camp and then gets to transfer to Nairobi, but she is unsure whether that is the God’s will for her to do. Rania is almost at the end of her year’s studies at the art school in Dubai where she lives with her uncle and aunt, and is dreading return to Sudan to marry her older cousin. She is also growing in her faith, especially with Halimah’s encouragement via text, email and phone calls. Through some turns of events, Halimah winds up living with Rania in Dubai with their uncle and aunt, but fearing for their lives and the imminent arrival of their parents from Sudan, Halimah and Rania manages to escape to the States thanks to the help of the organization where Mia’s husband, Michael, works. The ending is bittersweet, but hopeful in the knowledge that God is merciful in all circumstances. The ending is rather open-ended — how do Halimah and Rania adjust to life in America? Do they reconcile with their parents? Do Uncle Faisal and Aunty Badria come to faith? I wonder if this means there will be another book? ;-)
Reading through this series has been a really special experience for me personally, having spent about half a year in Sudan back in 2004. One of the things that resonated with me strongly was the reverse culture shock Mia experiences on her return to America. I remember feeling overwhelmed with how clean and un-dusty everything was upon my return to New Zealand, how beautiful the tar-sealed roads without potholes were, what insane amount of choice there were at fully stocked supermarkets, and what a profound sense of guilt I felt for getting to live in a place like that where I could freely worship Christ. I cried a lot during that time — and it was a happy time, I was about to get married! — but I just had a lot of trouble readjusting. The thing is, I was only in Sudan for 5 months — how much more is this not an issue for people who have lived on the mission field for years! Thankfully, God put a wise woman in my life who pointed out to me that God calls us to be content with whatever God has given you in His mercy. We usually (to our shame) read a passage like that and think about how we have to put up with the little we have, but she pointed out to me that it was not my place to feel guilty about what was mine, but that I should be content with the much that God had given me. Not to live selfishly, of course, but with thankfulness.
Contentment is definitely something that needs to be learned, and I think this book does a great job of showing how that is possible when we trust that God is merciful, no matter what. God is merciful wherever he’s planted you, whatever lot he’s given you, with whomever you’re writing your life’s story. Mercy triumphs.
I received a complimentary copy of Mercy Triumphs but have not been compensated in any other way for this review. Buy your copy today!