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book review: Adventures Under the Mango Tree

Adventures Under the Mango TreeTitle: Adventures Under the Mango Tree: A Story of Hope in War-Torn Sudan

Author: Lillian Ann Klepp

Publisher: Creative Enterprises Studio

Complimentary Copy Provided by: The Barnabas Agency

Rating: B

Publisher’s Bio:

Hearing the tremendous needs of orphans in Sudan, an ordinary women in Wisconsin prayed, “Lord, what can I do?” His answer was life altering!

Adventures Under the Mango Tree is Lillian’s journal of touching stories with heartwarming photographs of the precious orphans they help, the dedicated people who love them, and the often life-threatening struggles they face together.

My Thoughts:

So, I have a confession to make. This blog review is way past due—as in embarrassingly past due. As in so past due I’ve received two review reminders! Life has been a bit crazy here with a job search and move coming up very soon. My apologies to the ever patient staff at The B&B Media Group.

Adventures Under the Mango Tree offers an overview of the author’s relocation from the midwest United States to rural Africa. Author Lillian Ann Klepp, affectionately referred to as “Mama Lilly”, provides a glimpse into the challenges of moving half-way around the world to engage in orphan care. I am always amazed and inspired by people who learn of a need and respond with action, becoming part of the solution and change-makers in the process. In the case of Dennis and Lillian Klepp, they sold everything, left their jobs, family, friends, and comfortable lifestyle in the States to start a ministry in one of the most volatile climates in Africa: southern Sudan. Since 2001, the Klepp’s have opened two orphanages, a school, and a hospital, serving more than 500 children and thousands of families through their ministry Harvesters Reaching the Nations.

I was most impacted by the strong Christian faith of Lillian and Dennis. Adventures Under the Mango Tree is a beautiful example of the myriad of ways God calls people to action and responds to needs in prayer. The Klepp’s have endured sickness, critical health conditions, funding shortages, invasions by rebel militia and so much more, but through it all God heals, restores, and continues to provide and expand the work.

As inspired as I am, I must admit I was left wanting a bit more. Adventures Under the mango Tree is a recounting of the author’s journey, outlined in short, chronological segments, which makes for a super-quick read that offers a general overview of experiences. A bit more depth would have been helpful for setting the socio-political context in Sudan, offering a bit more on the challenging cultural dynamics, and I wanted to know more about the children in terms of their personalities, interests, hardships, and agency impact.

Harvesters Reaching the Nations is a wonderful organization, impacting the lives of hundreds of children and thousands of families in Sudan, Africa. Visit their website to learn more about how you can support their critically important work.


About the Author:

Adventures - Lillian KleppLillian Klepp, fondly called “Mama Lilly,” cofounded Harvesters Reaching the Nations in 2001—a nonprofit, nondenominational, Christ-centered ministry to orphans in what is now South Sudan. She and her husband, Dennis, with more than 100 local employees care for nearly 200 orphans, educate more than 500 school children, provide hospital care for thousands of women and children, and help hundreds more through their local church. To find out more visit Harvesters Reaching the Nations:


book review: Be A Changemaker

changemaker_jacket_r3.inddTitle: Be A Changemaker: How To Start Something That Matters

Author: Laurie Ann Thompson

Publisher: Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster

Complimentary copy provided by: NetGalley

Rating: A+ for content (C+ for formatting)

Release date: 9/9/2014


Publisher’s Description:

We’ve had the civil rights movement and the women’s movement—now it’s time for the youth movement.

When Divine Bradley was seventeen, he just wanted a safe place to hang out away from gangs and violence, and Team Revolution was born. At age eleven, Jessica Markowitz learned that girls in Rwanda are often not allowed to attend school, and Richard’s Rwanda took shape. During his sophomore year of high school, Zach Steinfeld put his love of baking to good use and started the Baking for Breast Cancer Club.

Gone are the days when kids were supposed to be “seen and not heard.” Today, youth everywhere are rising up, building new organizations, and creating the changes they want to see in their communities and around the world. Be a Changemaker gives readers the tools and confidence they need to affect real change. Readers will learn how to:

– Research ideas
– Build a strong and passionate team
– Create a business plan
– Enlist a savvy adult
– Plan events
– Work with the media
– And more!

Plus, profiles of youth-led social organizations show readers that it’s never too early to become a changemaker.

My Thoughts:

Another great gem from NetGalley! In Be A Changemaker: Start Something That Matters, author Laurie Ann Thompson encourages youth to engage the world by connecting with their passion and doing something productive with it, in this case, launching a social venture aimed at changing the world in some way. Love it!

The strength of this book is that it clearly communicates a positive message to youth. That message is twofold: your voice matters and your participation in creating a more just and positive world matters. The author guides youth through the process of identifying an area of passion and then walks readers through the steps of establishing a social venture business fueled by the identified passion based on a commitment to help others. From forming a Board, to marketing and fundraising strategies, to developing a business plan and forming a team, Ms. Thompson provides very practical advice and tools for turning passion into vision and vision into a social venture.

May this book spark a revolution in the youth of today to become activists in many arenas. May this book equip a new generation with the skills to engage the issues and challenges in the world with confidence and optimism. May this book provide an avenue for the next generation to fuel their passion for a more just world in such authentic ways that communities around the world are transformed through a myriad of social ventures that impact lives for the better.

(I received a complimentary copy by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Formatting Critique:

As a Kindle Paperwhite user, I encountered the following formatting issues (which may be addressed and corrected by the time this book is published in September 2014):

  • Letters are randomly missing (f, th, t, w, …) on every page. For the most part it’s simple enough to fill in the blanks but enough challenges occurred to cause frustration. I almost pitched the read based on the formatting, not the content. If I had been aware the review copy was an “uncorrected reader’s proof” I may have passed up the opportunity.
  • Initially I was unable to advance or return pages (it would skip entire chapters or two at a time) but this issue disappeared all together the third time I opened it to resume reading.
  • I am unable to view embedded images, pictures, charts or graphs.

About the Author

Laurie Ann Thompson cofounded a successful Internet start-up with her husband during the technology boom. She has volunteered with Youth Venture, an organization that supports teens with big ideas, and she makes time for other volunteer opportunities as they arise. Thompson has more than twenty-five published articles in Faces, Know, Kono, WeeOnes, ParentMap, and more. Visit her at – See more at:

laurie-ann-thompsonLaurie Ann Thompson cofounded a successful Internet start-up with her husband during the technology boom. She has volunteered with Youth Venture, an organization that supports teens with big ideas, and she makes time for other volunteer opportunities as they arise. Thompson has more than twenty-five published articles in Faces, Know, Kono, WeeOnes, ParentMap, and more.

Connect with Laurie Ann Thompson on her website:


Laurie Ann Thompson cofounded a successful Internet start-up with her husband during the technology boom. She has volunteered with Youth Venture, an organization that supports teens with big ideas, and she makes time for other volunteer opportunities as they arise. Thompson has more than twenty-five published articles in Faces, Know, Kono, WeeOnes, ParentMap, and more. Visit her at – See more at:


book review: KnowOrphans

know orphansTitle: Know Orphans: Mobilizing the Church for Global Orphanology

Author: Rick Morton

Publisher: New Hope Publishers

Complimentary Copy provided by: Litfuse Publicity Group

Grade: A


Publisher’s Description: The global orphan crisis is complex. The church’s response should be comprehensive, but is it? In this provocative follow-up to Orphanology, author Rick Morton provides the framework for families and churches to have a gospel-centered response to the growing global issue of orphan care.

KnowOrphans addresses three distinct areas associated with global orphanology. Delving deeper into the criticisms of the movement, the need for reform, and what families can expect, author Rick Morton helps shape realistic perceptions of the challenges and rewards adoptive parents face in transnational adoptions. Through illuminating the work internationally adoptive families can expect, KnowOrphans offers solutions for the church in remedying the ills and deficiencies surrounding the church’s role in equipping and supporting families before, during, and after the adoption process. Knowing that the church’s response and attitude should be one that goes beyond adoption, KnowOrphans also addresses the complexities of how Christians are to respond ethically, compassionately, and comprehensively to the biblical call to care for orphans.

KnowOrphans is the next step in conversation as this evangelically based movement of orphan care matures and begins to live out James 1:27 globally.

Purchase a copy:

My Review:

In KnowOrphans, we find an impassioned, well articulated, and compelling invitation to the global Church to lead the growing response to orphan-care. Author Rick Morton walks the reader through a systematic approach to engaging in orphan-care. The first step is understanding individual commitment in the orphan-care movement and the collective power of the Church to impact millions of children around the world. Morton offers many helpful avenues to educate self and others regarding the complexities involved in the orphan-care movement, emphasizing practical ways to cultivate a deeper understanding of the Biblical mandate to care for the vulnerable (i.e., orphans, widows, sojourners). What I found particularly helpful is Morton’s firsthand insights into the process of navigating international (transnational) adoption and preparing for the social/emotional transitions that often occur in adoption-blended families.

Some may be quick to dismiss KnowOrphans and the topic of orphan-care to “those who want to…” (adopt, sponsor a child, etc.). If you fall in that camp I say you are missing the point. KnowOrphans is as much about orphan-care education as it is about actual engagement. The challenge presented to join the orphan-care movement is presented to EVERY reader—but especially to those who follow the Christian faith. While the author clearly affirms that not everyone is called to adopt, the thread of orphan-care theology is woven beautifully throughout this narrative emphasizing the Church’s direct responsibility care for the poor and vulnerable.

Morton dispels the myth that adoption is the only response to orphan-care, pointing to many paths to engage and address the issue in practical ways that directly impact and improve the quality of life and opportunities for vulnerable children. One of those ways is through sponsorships. While my husband and I are not in a place (yet) to pursue adoption, we sponsor several children around the world through the following relief agencies: World Vision, The SOLD Project, Invisible Children, and Compassion International. Through a monthly commitment, we know our financial partnership provides many vulnerable children access to education, shelter, nutrition, medication, family support, and protection from human trafficking.

For many years the church in America has been mocked the “sleeping giant.” May God grip our hearts in such a way as to awaken us from our self-induced slumber so that we may join His redemptive work will full commitment and renewed purpose:

“Passivity or intellectual assent to the plight if orphans will not satisfy God, and it cannot satisfy us. We must find practical ways to bring our theology into action … God seems to be doing something special on behalf of the fatherless and the vulnerable, and where He is at work, we need to join Him. Passivity from the church does not honor God, and it will not result in the kind of worldwide activity that is needed to help orphans. We have to wake the sleeping giant. We have to mobilize the church to care for the world’s orphans. The question is, How?” (pg4-45)

Rick Morton - KnowOrphansAbout the Author: Rick Morton is the father of three transnational adopted children and coauthor of the popular book Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care. His dedication to the plight of orphans extends beyond his own family. The Mortons were cofounders of Promise 139, an international orphan-hosting ministry based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. An inspiring speaker for the gospel to be expressed by the church living out God’s heart for the fatherless, Rick presents at adoption and orphan-care conferences and pastor’s conferences. Rick and his family live in the Greater Memphis area.

Learn more about Rick at:

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.)