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By Patrick McDonald with Emma Garrow


150 pp., Monrovia, Calif.: MARC/World Vision, 2000, $12.95, paperback.


Millions of children around the world are affected by the plagues of war, prostitution, thievery, fatal illness, abuse, slavery, homelessness and imprisonment. God calls his people into action to reach out and assist these children. Once individuals answer his call and act, they frequently find themselves alone, overwhelmed and ill equipped to address the issues they encounter in an unfamiliar culture. McDonald has been there and done that and is now advocating that people called by God to help children at risk become part of a worldwide helping network. He pleads with the people of God to do more for children in need, together-worldwide.

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Children at Risk is a 1990s story of the development of the author's passion for helping children. It chronicles his experiences with needy children around the world, God's call on his life and the development of his vision to link individuals with the common goal of serving these children.


Nurses will benefit from reading the book because the main concept-networking-is fundamental to nursing practice. Any nurse planning to serve the Lord at home or abroad will find Children at Risk informative and inspiring, whether or not they plan to work exclusively with children. The unique focus of the book is children, in large cities and rural villages, and how networked people of God are empowered to help them with collective experience and resources.


The author promotes "network as the key to unleashing the potential of hundreds of small projects that exist, are hardworking and compassionately involved, yet lack the integrity and professionalism required for holistic Christian childcare. [horizontal ellipsis] We need to merge the professionalism and longevity of holistic childcare with the enthusiasm and the get up and go of the evangelical movement. In that marriage and its success lies the potential of the church to reach an entire generation" (p. 96).


The advantage of networks is that they provide physical, emotional, material and spiritual resources for training, mobilizing and implementing assistance to children at risk. The Viva Network, developed by McDonald, is an international association of evangelical work among children in need that provides a forum for communication, coordination and cooperation. As a voice of childcare advocacy introducing biblical standards to public policy and legislation, it provides coordinated services and referrals to resources.


This book would be useful on the missions shelf of any church library. The network concept is essential to mission efforts for children and adults.-Reviewed by Dorothy Allbritten, RN, MSN, MPH, a specialist in primary health care of children, who works with Head Start and has served children as a pediatric nurse practitioner in clinical practice, in graduate education of PNPs and in administration of health services in a mission clinic she developed in New York's Times Square.



Edited by John J. Stretch, Maria Bartlett, William J. Hutchison, Susan A. Taylor and Jan Wilson


108 pp., Binghamton, New York: The Haworth Social Work Practice Press, 1999, $14.95, paperback; $29.95, hardcover.


The focus of Raising Our Children Out of Poverty is strengthening families, communities and social services at local and national levels. A collection of papers on ethical and social policy issues, the book demonstrates six approaches groups have taken to move children out of poverty.

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The first is "Compassion, Solidarity and Empowerment: The Ethical Contribution of Religion to Society." It explores three anchors of Catholic social teaching and illustrates them by describing a church-based community organization of people working together in love and respect, instilling hope in God.


The second, "Welfare Reform and the Future of Foster Care," reports results of a three-state study of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 that proposes that the PRWOA may end up revoking America's social commitment to protect children. Frightening reading!!


The third, "Delinquency Prevention in Poor and At-Risk African American Youth: A Social Work Practice Innovation," describes encouraging outcomes of a community partnership among the city housing authority, a community policing team, the youth court and the local state university.


The fourth, "Collaborative Practice in Low Income Communities: University, Agency, Public School Partnerships," describes successful outcomes of collaboration between education and social work in three programs of school-linked services for children in impoverished communities.


The fifth, "Fostering Resiliency in Children: Lessons Learned in Transcending Adversity," explains how implementation of the Differential Resiliency Model promotes survival and the development of resilience, enabling children and families to thrive and flourish.


The sixth report, "Ecumenical Housing: Providing Housing and Services," provides insights on how a twenty-year project of housing management supported with family economic development services promotes hope for a better life and offers realistic opportunities for families to achieve dreams and goals.


This book has a social work focus that might interest nurses who work in community health or pediatrics. Nurses who are adept at developing new health projects in partnership with other disciplines interested in serving children would find this book helpful if they plan to provide service to children in poverty.


-Review by Dorothy Allbritten, RN, MSN, MPH





By Anne Fadiman


331 pp., New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997, $14.00, paperback; $30.00, hardcover.


Lia Lee is a Hmong child living in California. This book is a vivid account of her family's collision with the American medical system as they sought care for her severe epilepsy beginning at three months. From the start, language and cultural barriers compromised her care. Her American physicians and other caregivers demonstrated outstanding compassion and expertise. Lia's family loved her deeply, caring for her every need-according to their world-view.

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Although Lia's caregivers tried to understand the Hmong culture and find translators, the worldview difference created problems. The medical regimen did not make sense to the Hmong parents. First, they saw the epilepsy as an indication that Lia had been destined to be a shaman. They described her seizures as "when the spirit catches you and you fall down." They held Lia in awe, giving her a place of honor in the family because of her gift. On the other hand, they sensed something was wrong.


Second, they couldn't understand the concept of taking seizure medication indefinitely. They appreciated the results of Western medicine such as antibiotics: take them for a week, and you're cured. However, when the seizures returned, even on the medication, they assumed it was worthless. Third, the doctors did not seem to understand Lia's spiritual needs.


Conversely, the Hmong parents' behavior baffled most of Lia's Western caregivers. Despite their obvious love for Lia, they did the wrong things. They either gave too much or not enough of her medication. They skipped clinic appointments. Instead, they sacrificed chickens and pigs for her, tied dirty strings around her wrist, fed her strange herbs and potions, allowed her to become grossly overweight and carried her when she should have been walking. As Lia became sicker, her family assumed that a dab (bad spirit) had snatched her soul.


Foua, Lia's mother, explained, "Your soul is like your shadow. Sometimes it just wanders off like a butterfly, and that is when you are sad and that's when you get sick, and if it comes back to you, that is when you are happy and you are well again." Her father added, "Sometimes the soul goes away, but the doctors don't believe it. I would like you to tell the doctors to believe in our neeb." He was referring to the healing ritual performed by a txiv neeb, in which an animal is sacrificed in exchange for the person's soul.


He added, "The doctors can fix some sicknesses that involve the body and blood, but for us Hmong, some people get sick because of their soul, so they need spiritual things. With Lia, it was good to do a little medicine and a little neeb, but not too much medicine because the medicine cuts the neeb's effect. If we did a little of each, she didn't get sick as much, but the doctors wouldn't let us give just a little medicine because they didn't understand about the soul" (p. 100).


The story continues with one harrowing incident after another. At one point, Lia was placed in foster care. Finally returned to her family, the health care system grew to appreciate her parents' great affection for the child, but confusion still reigned on both sides of the relationship. Lia eventually went into status epilepticus at age four and was declared brain dead. However, when she was removed from life support, she did not die. Instead, she was sent home to die. But Lia still did not die. By the end of the book, she is a teenager, still deeply loved and being tenderly cared for by her family.


When the author, a columnist for Civilization and editor of the American Scholar, attempted to make sense of how the Lees viewed the world, she concluded: "Medicine was religion. Religion was society. Society was medicine. Even economics was mixed up in there somewhere. [horizontal ellipsis] In fact, the Hmong view of health care seemed to me to be precisely the opposite of the prevailing American one, in which the practice of medicine has fissioned into smaller and smaller sub-specialties, with less and less truck between bailiwicks. The Hmong carried holism to its ultima Thule. As my web of cross references grew more and more thickly interlaced, I concluded that the Hmong preoccupation with medical issues was nothing less than a preoccupation with life (And death. And life after death)" (pp. 60-61).


The author offers eight questions for understanding how a client views an illness, developed by psychiatrist and medical anthropologist Arthur Kleinman. 1) What do you call the problem? 2) What do you think has caused the problem? 3) Why do you think it started when it did? 4) What do you think the sickness does? How does it work? 5) How severe is the sickness? Will it have a short or long course? 7) What are the chief problems the sickness has caused? 8) What do your fear most about the sickness? (pp. 260-61).


Although this study is not presented from a Christian perspective, Christian nurses can learn much about crosscultural communication from the story of Lia Lee and the American medical establishment. The greatest lesson is that cultural differences run deep. They are not merely language, food and dress. Rather, they present a whole new way of viewing life. Communication means listening at a deeper level than merely the words spoken. It involves discovering completely new categories for understanding the world. Expressions of love, demonstrations of caring and expectations for relationships will vary widely from culture to culture. We need to be careful with our assumptions and humble in our assertions.-JAS





By Daniel Taylor and Ronald Hoekstra


202 pp., Downers Grove, III.: MerVarsity Press, 2000, $14.99, hardcover.


This book is a tender and touching look into the lives of five families going through the pain, joys, despair and daily struggles of their babies who were born before their time, and a devoted doctor who cared for them. The chapters focus primarily on four infants (Lamarre, Simon, B.J. and Blake), born at twenty-two weeks' gestation, and a set of twins (Liam and Anna) born at twenty-five weeks' gestation. Each infant was born at slightly more than half of the normal forty-week gestation or a full-term pregnancy.

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Before Their Time also presents a detailed portrait of dedicated physician Hoekstra, a neonatologist at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a devout Christian. Although this is a book of faith, hope and courage, the writers do not circumvent the debates surrounding the ethical and financial issues, and the use of resources in caring for extremely premature infants. I appreciated the honest discussion when many hospitals and medical communities do not begin resuscitation and/or the aggressive management of premature infants until at least twenty-three weeks' gestation.


This is not an easy book to read. Emotions run deep (keep Kleenex(TM) handy), and the reader is quickly drawn into the stories and lives of the families. Faith is the cornerstone of these parents. Impromptu prayer meetings and support groups form. Simon's mother's letters and diaries give the reader a clear snapshot into family life. You will cheer on Blake and Lamarre as they pass milestones in their fight for survival. B.J.'s story will tear at your heart. His devoted family, especially his mother, is a source of inspiration, trust, joy and hope.


The fifth and final story (Liam and Anna) takes a different approach, presented as coming full-circle in the family's faith annals. This shift in focus at first seemed to lack the emotion seen in earlier stories. However, I soon appreciated and applauded the foundation of faith being laid, recognizing the source of strength and support this would be for a family facing a crisis pregnancy and the very premature birth of twins.


I strongly recommend Before Their Time to nurses. Each infant's story is presented as a precious gift from God. I was left with a heartfelt sense of hope for future premature babies, for the work of Dr. Hoekstra and in awe of an ever-present God who cares, meets needs and provides peace and comfort. Be sure to read the introduction as well as the last chapters, "Won't You Even Try?" and "Lessons in Living." You will be inspired.


This book is not only for those on both sides of the ethical debate on saving premature infants but also for those who ask why and seek the healing balm of a loving God. B.J.'s and Lamarre's lives will remind us to celebrate each moment of the life we are granted and "lunches" spent together. Indeed, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Eccles 3:1).-Reviewed by Nancy A. Andrews, RN, MSN, a clinical nurse specialist in Mother Baby Care at William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan. She is co-coordinator of the Detroit Metro Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.



By Shirley K. Morgenthaler


250 pp., St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia, 2001, $10.99, paperback.


This book is an easy-to-read, basic look at early childhood development. Using stories from her own children and grandchildren, the author spends the first half of the book illustrating child development and the second half discussing faith development. Morgenthaler's goal is to get parents to think about their child's spiritual development long before they can offer prayers or have conversations about God. She offers tips on making family traditions, church services, extended family roles and prayer. Right from the Start would best be used as a small group study for new or young parents. The end of every chapter lists discussion questions and activities to help apply the principles to each family's lives.-Reviewed by Natasha Pyles Tompkins, RN, MSN, a family nurse practitioner at two clinics of Near North Health Service Corporation in Chicago

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By W. Meredith Long


281 pp., Wheaton, Ill: The Billy Graham Center, 2000, $17.95, paperback.


What is faith's role in the healing process? Is illness a result of evil and demons? Why do some people get well without the use of medicine, and others die in spite of it? Long addresses these and other questions as he examines the roles of traditional African beliefs, Western medical and public health practices and biblical teaching in the promotion of health and healing in Africa.

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Long sees health in the biblical context of shalom, reconciliation with God, self, others and creation, and identifies elements of it in traditional African life where health and the spiritual world are intimately woven. He says that the developed world is so accustomed to thinking in dichotomy, either/or and both/and, that we do not have the language necessary to communicate adequately the holistic concept of shalom. Shalom contains elements of justice, community and faith expressed and understood in the African tradition and culture.


In our individualistic society, we can learn from the Africans about the importance of the role that relationships play in our health. The African understanding of relationships extends into the spiritual world that contains both healing and destructive evil forces. Long addresses these issues cautiously and thoroughly. He examines the teachings of the Christian church in Africa and seeks to comprehend how the Bible is understood in light of African traditional beliefs.


How Africans understand the Scriptures, Western medicine, public health and their own traditions has implications for how Christian medical missions and public health are practiced in Africa. In the end, he presents the authority of the Bible as the test of traditional beliefs, our medical knowledge and spiritual revelation. He asserts that God must be presented as the only healer in health and healing ministries.


Long weaves in African proverbs, stories and personal experiences throughout the book that are thought provoking, illustrative and instructive. They make the book interesting and practical and introduce a linear thinker into the world of circular thought.


I came away with a greater appreciation of African tradition, a better understanding of shalom and a bigger picture of God. For nurses interested in trans cultural nursing, in alternative and complementary therapies or in the integration of faith and healing, this book is a must read. It can be ordered at the Wheaton College bookstore, (630) 752-5119.-Reviewed by Grace Tazelaar, RN, MSN, Nurses Christian Fellowship staff



By Dutch Sheets


256 pp., Ventura, Calif.: Regal, 1997, $10.99, paperback.


Why pray? Is prayer really necessary? Can my prayers actually change things? Can God's will on earth be frustrated or not accomplished if I don't pray? These questions are posed in the beginning of Intercessory Prayer, some of which we've asked ourselves. The book answers those questions and more. The arguments are presented with humor and solid biblical references and quotes. Inspiring and thought-provoking stories illustrate the power of prayer.


One example involves praying for healing for a comatose patient. The author asks, "Have you ever stood beside someone in this condition and asked God for a miracle?" Probably, as nurses, we have all often done that.


Daniel, Joshua, Elijah and Jesus are examples given to explain different aspects of prayer. We are to carry each other's burdens and be consistent and persistent in prayer, as they were. Sheets says, "The point is that it must be a lifestyle, not a once-in-a-while activity."


Each chapter ends with questions for reflection, which can be used by the reader for further study. A leader's guide at the end makes the book valuable for group study. It challenged me to "see the multitudes of unbelievers around us not as threats but as opportunities to walk in our calling as intercessors, to represent Jesus as reconciler and warrior, to distribute his benefits and victory." God works through the prayers of his people.-Reviewed by Grace Eisen, RN, MHSc, patient care coordinator, Groves Memorial Hospital, Fergus, Ontario, Canada



JCN receives more books than we have space to review. Book Briefs are short synopses based on publishers' descriptions: JCN staff have not read or evaluated these hooks.



Edited by Marcia J. Bunge


513 pp., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001, $24.00, paperback.


This volume offers a survey of the history of Christian thought on children. Each chapter, written by an expert in the field, discusses the particular perspectives on children held by influential theologians and Christian movements throughout church history, asking what resources they can contribute to a sound contemporary view of childhood and child-rearing. Intended for a broad readership, the insights will prove helpful to nurses who care for children.



By Katherine Bohlmann illustrator David Erickson


31 pp., St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia, 2001, $14.99, hardcover.


Children ages four to seven ask many questions, especially about things they cannot see, touch or feel. When questions about heaven, death and angels come up, the adults in their lives can turn to this book to help give them age-appropriate and Bible-based answers. The book explains the compassion and beauty of God's plan for his people through Jesus and how the Bible tells us it's true. It helps answer children's difficult questions about the death of loved ones, the death of Jesus and the life he is preparing for us in heaven.

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By R. Timothy Kearney


139 pp., Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 2001, $9.99, paperback.


Dealing with sexual abuse is painful, especially when it involves a child you care about. And when it happens in church families, we all bear the pain and need help. We ask whether we should talk about it or keep it a secret to protect those involved. Nurses will often be involved in determining what programs could help, in referral to therapists or counselors, in supporting the victims and in dealing with theological crises the issue raises. Kearney provides hope and direction with aspects such as recognizing the symptoms, handling disclosure, understanding the systems that respond to abuse, answering the Why? questions, making the church abuse-aware and caring for the caregivers as well as the child.



By Jeff Leeland


217 pp., Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah, 2000, $9.99, paperback.


A group of kids do the impossible: in less than four weeks they raise more than $200,000 to pay for a life-saving operation for a nine-month-old boy with leukemia. Leeland's insurance company had denied coverage for Michael's surgery due to a change in teaching positions just seven months prior to the diagnosis. This is a true, powerful story of love, hope and joy. The story continues with the formation of The Sparrow Foundation, dedicated to sharing the outpouring of grace that saved the author's infant son.





By Richard L. Berry


297 pp., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Revell/Baker, 2001, $16.99, paperback.


Angry Kids leads you through an odyssey of discovery about what makes children angry and how you can help them through their rage. Filled with stories of real kids, this book offers practical, biblical guidelines, workable parent plans and even cue cards to help you successfully communicate with an angry child.





By Michael F. Friesen


150 pp., Binghamton, New York: Haworth Pastoral Press, 2000, $19.95, paperback.


This book offers resources for learning about a variety of religions, as well as techniques and methods to create a common language and framework for interventions with children and teens in care facilities. Topics include: principles of spiritual care, perspectives on suffering from world religions, spirituality and American culture, powerlessness and presence, homelessness and hospitality, rootlessness and community, hopelessness and transformation and loss, grief and healing.



Edited by Elaine M. Geissler


326 pp., St. Louis, Mo.: Harcourt Health Sciences, 1998, $24.95, paperback.


This guide is specifically designed to provide essential information to assess and care for culturally diverse patients. Cultural and ethnic information is presented in a quick-reference, easy-to-use format. For each of 186 countries, significant information is listed, such as major languages, ethnic groups, major religions, birth and death rites, eye contact and touch practices, reaction to pain and perception of time.





By Cameron Lee


264 pp., Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 1998, $16.99, paperback.


For most of the 1990s, family values has been a matter of national debate. Meanwhile, Christians have applauded serious and ongoing attention to the traditional family and its values. But should they? Lee believes Christian families should instead be focused on cultivating virtue. "What Christian families need most today is neither a clarification of their personal values nor a hearty reaffirmation of self-discipline and responsibility. [horizontal ellipsis] What they need are local congregations that embody the spirit and character of the resurrected Christ." This book provides must reading for pastors, counselors, students of theology and family studies, and anyone who hopes not just to hold family values but to live by Christian virtue.

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By Pam Farrel


234 pp., Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 2001, $9.99, paperback.


Parents want to prepare their children to transition successfully into adult life. Farrel shares tips and techniques to build your children's confidence as you help them discover the unique gifts God has put inside them. Learn how to recognize and develop talents and leadership skills; help children use tools and charts to form an action plan; see how personality types, birth order and learning styles affect children's motivation; receive God's wisdom as you seek to be a godly parent; be encouraged by chapters on special needs, prodigal and strong-willed children.





By Jan Johnson


164 pp., Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 2001, $12.00, paperback.


This book guides parents, grandparents and caregivers as they seek to help children grow as disciples of Christ-disciples who care about others and seek justice in the world. With specific examples, Johnson opens for the reader a new world of possibilities where making a difference for others becomes a way of life.





By Guy Condon and David Hazard


165 pp., Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale, 2001, $11.99, paperback.


It happened years ago, or maybe last week. Against a man's will, or perhaps because of it, a child was aborted. It happens 1.4 million times a year in the US. We've heard the truth from abortive mothers, but what about the fathers? This is a book about men and for men -men who are struggling with the emotional fallout of abortion. It's a path to healing from an expert who knows. If you or someone you know is looking for a way out of the pain and destruction, this book can be your guide.





Edited by R. Paul Stevens and Robert Banks


328 pp., Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 2001, $14.99, paperback.


Is there anything more important or more difficult than raising children? Thoughtful Parenting offers concise, readable summaries of biblical teaching and practical advice on nearly one hundred topics critical to parents. More than the typical book on parenting, however, it offers thoughtful reflection on how come as well as how to. The concerns families face daily are addressed by a panel of experts from four continents in a fresh way, grounding you in God's Word while helping you see it in new and insightful ways.