Monday, May 12, 2014

Currently Reading: Where the Wind Leads


That is what I would say if I were asked to sum up Where the Wind Leads in one word.

It is "a refugee family's miraculous story of loss, rescue, and redemption" written from the perspective of the son, Vihn Chung with Tim Downs.

Chung begins by laying out his family's history in their homeland of Vietnam.  The story is tumultuous as the family survives various coups and wars.  Each time they are uprooted and upset, yet they press on.

Eventually they decide that they cannot live this way any longer and in 1979 they become "boat people" who sail away from Vietnam in hopes of finding a better life.

Intertwined with the Chung's story is the story of Stan Mooneyham, the second president of World Vision.  When a friend challenged Stan to learn more about the boat people and find a way to help them, Stan resisted at first.  Soon, however, he was convinced that his Christian organization should be helping these refugees who were fleeing their country for safety, yet unable to find a country to welcome them.

Chung's description of their time on the boat and as new refugees is agonizing.  Eventually they are rescued and, with World Vision's help, are allowed to enter the United States.  There are still difficulties once the family is settled in Arkansas, but they work hard and persevere.  Chung fulfills his father's dream when he graduates from Harvard Medical School.  Chung now lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado and serves on the board of World Vision.

This is an excellent book.  Chung (and Downs) told a gripping, riveting story and appropriately interwove both humor and history.  I am more familiar with stories of immigrants, but this book opened my eyes to the experience of refugees.

I was a bit worried about the ending.  In the last chapter, Chung asks questions about why his family was rescued and why others were not.  I was afraid that the book might turn the corner to preaching a prosperity gospel (e.g. "They called upon God and therefore all their problems were taken away").  But it didn't.  I was impressed the way Chung turned the question around, explaining that why they were the ones rescued isn't the correct question.  Instead he says that he should ask the question, "What does He expect me to do now?"

Chung answers the question with this: "Now that I am safely ashore, He expects me to send the boat back for someone else."  

I was left with a renewed realization of how much I had been given in this life and, as Chung says, "I believe that blessing is something I am expected to pass on to other people in any way I can."

Please note that all the author royalties from this book are donated to World Vision.

** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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