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They Called us Love, by Deborah Meroff

02 August 2019

Pat Ashworth reads about an evangelist working with a charity in North Africa

THERE is an element of risk in choosing someone else to tell your faith story, however close he or she might be to the world that you are writing about. “April Holden” worked with the Evangelical charity Operation Mobilisation (OM), and she chose an American fellow-worker to tell her story.

In the book, April, who overcame chronic health problems to work with street children in North Africa, adopts the pseudonym “for use in sensitive countries where ongoing Christian ministries may be at risk”, and she does not identify the country in which she worked.

That’s perfectly understandable. But it puts the story at arm’s length, it makes us hungry for real background detail that would help us connect events in the news with the problems she meets. Her work is persuading churches to use their land to establish drop-in centres and, later, residences for street boys. The four “Centres of Love” that April established seek to equip the boys to return to their families as Christians and wage-earners.

Deported abruptly in 2013, April later returned to Africa with OM to set up Hope On The Streets For Children, and to train workers in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Ghana.

April is an evangelist first and foremost, as is her biographer; and they are determined that the reader will not undervalue her reliance on God nor her need to give God the glory in everything. This doesn’t detract from the work undertaken by a brave woman with a compassionate heart. But, in someone else’s hands, it’s over-assiduous and over-striving, and that’s a pity.

They Called us Love
Deborah Meroff
SPCK £9.99
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