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:  http://hrtn.org/


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: http://ow.ly/uLVL2

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: http://www.rickmortononline.com

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