The Insanity of God - A Review

“Is Jesus worth it?”

That is the question that Nik Ripken’s book, The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected drives his readers to ask. It’s a story that Christians in a Western context should ask themselves regularly, realizing that the costs of following Jesus are so much lower in our context than in many others around the world. Ripken’s book is a reminder of the huge cost so many believers are paying for their faith, and that, without question, Jesus is worth it.

The book begins by telling part of Ripken’s story. He came to Christ as a teenager from a dysfunctional family and immediately felt called to ministry. After attending a Christian college, where he met his wife, Ruth, he landed in seminary. After getting married and graduating, the Ripkens pastored several churches in the United States until they felt an unmistakable call to cross-cultural missions.

Their story is not atypical among young missionaries. They fell in love with the people at their first assignment, but could not remain there. For the Ripkens the problem was a low resistance to Malaria that threatened the lives of the whole family. After spending some years working in one of the black districts in South Africa (prior to the end of Apartheid), they felt called to go someplace where the gospel had not been or, at least, where it was not readily available.

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So, the Ripkens began to serve as relief workers in Somalia during that bloody civil war. This opened Nik’s eyes to the horrific persecution meted out on Christians in many Muslim nations. When the Ripkens lost a son, in part due to lack of sanitation and adequate medical conditions, it led them to ask that fundamental question: “Is Jesus worth it?” It also led them to begin to ask questions about how to help Christians undergoing persecution thrive.

Approximately half the book is dedicated to the Ripkens, which is a worthy read. The latter portion of the book focuses on what the Ripkens learned from persecuted Christians.

After a furlough, Nik began to journey around the world to places like the former Soviet Union, where the persecution had just recently been lifted. The stories he tells of the cruelty applied to pastors and lay people are agonizing, but there is an unmistakable power in those stories that remind readers that Jesus is worth any price we could possibly pay.

Then, when Ripken spent time in China and in some Central Asian countries where persecution threatens the daily lives of Christians, the stories of courage, faith, and perseverance emerge with breathtaking clarity and compelling power. Jesus is worth it. These people know it. We too often forget it.

The Insanity of God tells important stories about the persecuted church. These stories do not lead to voyeurism, however. Instead they offer a compelling and convicting call to pray for the persecuted church and to use our freedom to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For American Christians caught in the belief that church is a nice extracurricular activity, or a place where they can go to learn some morals, The Insanity of God is a wakeup call that the gospel is worth any cost. Our primary concern in life should not be when our next luxury vacation is, but how we can more effectively live for the name of Christ.

Marie Durand - The Story of Faithfulness in Persecution

If you haven’t heard of Reformation Heritage Books before today, you’ve been missing out. They produce a number of fine volumes on theology, particularly on Puritan theology.

One of the most significant contributions they are making to the life of the church is the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. These are fully illustrated, hardbound books that are suitable early elementary through middle school. The books include drawings and paintings of historic scenes as well as contemporary photos of historical sites.


The latest edition in this series highlights the life of Marie Durand. Durand was a French Protestant who was born in the early eighteenth century. As a Protestant in Catholic France, her family was at times tolerated, but later on most of the family was arrested for meeting together and worshipping according to their conscience.

As a result of her faith, which led her to disobedience to the crown, Durand spent thirty-eight years in prison. She lived the first 19 years of her life free, though with threat of persecution through many of those years. Nearly her entire adult life was lived in the small confines of the Tower of Constance, where she and a number of other Protestant women and children were imprisoned. Snow and rain fell through the grating in the roof and through the slitted windows. Their meager provisions had to be augmented by their families and friends on the outside.

Inside, Durand served as a teacher to the children, letter writer for many of the other prisoners, and also spiritual leader because of her ability to read and write better than others. Her role was significant, and yet the reality is that she spent nearly four decades in a small one-room prison with only occasional opportunities to go outside into the fresh air.

While the women, including Marie Durand, were imprisoned, their husbands were made to be galley slaves. Or, like Marie’s brother Pierre, were executed outright if they persisted in preaching the Protestant faith.

And yet they persisted.

Analysis and Conclusion

This is what makes this biography so powerful and timely. Durand’s story reminds us of what real persecution looks like. This is not merely social marginalization but absolute, unfettered, and unreasoning punishment. Many men and women lost their lives in exchange for an unsullied conscience.

This book is written as a third person historical biography. In other words, it is not a story book, but a work of non-fiction directed to the young. This is the sort of story that can provide the sort of vicarious memory that a young Christian may need when attempting to sort through the social consequences of a vibrant Christian faith in the coming years. This volume shows that others have paid a greater price, and that it was worth it.

The author, Simonetta Carr, is a native of Italy with a multicultural background. She has been an elementary school teacher, a home-school teacher of eight, and a writer for newspapers and magazines. The book is illustrated by Matt Abraxas who is an artist by trade who lives on Colorado.

These books are not inexpensive, but they are well constructed. The illustrations draw the reader in and help to make the story come alive. This would be a suitable volume to incorporate into a homeschool unit, or as part of church library. The entire series would make an exceptional Christmas or birthday gift for a young reader. This is the sort of reading that will stick to a child’s ribs and provide encouragement in a time of need.

This is the ninth book in the series. Previous titles include John Calvin; Augustine of Hippo; John Owen, Athanasius; Lady Jane Grey; Anselm of Canterbury; John Knox; and Jonathan Edwards. Hopefully there are more planned in the near future. If the future volumes are as good as this one, the church will be blessed.

Note: A gratis copy of this volume was received from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews with no expectation of a positive review.