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Review: The Insanity of God, A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken with Gregg Lewis

Title: The Insanity of God
Author: Nik Ripken with Gregg Lewis
Publisher: B&H Books 1 January 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction
Labels: Missionary, Testimony, faith, Former Communist Nations, Muslim, Aid Relief
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages 384
Rating: 5 Stars

Nik Ripken (a pseudonym used for safety) began his "calling" for the mission field as a young man. His wife Ruth on the other hand had known since she was a young girl she would be a missionary. Nik and Ruth along with their three sons re-located to Africa in the early 1990's. Their home base was Kenya. Nik made hazardous trips to Somalia. Somalia was a country ravaged and oppressed by a drought and a civil war. Nik encountered a hell on earth each time he visited. He negotiated and worked to provide food and supplies to the Somalian people. After a couple of years Nik wondered if what he was doing was making a difference, and was this work being done in the right way. He questioned God about suffering. He felt broken and dry. His family suffered a major crisis; but then a turning point came. Nik began a quest by traveling to countries where he could listen to and ask hard questions of those who've never had the freedom to worship God as we have in the western world.
"Could faith survive and even grow in the worlds most hostile environments?"
What does it mean to "walk with Jesus"?

My thoughts:
  1. I believe what stands out the most in this book is the author (who is the narrator of this story) asking hard questions of himself and of God. He's transparent and bold, yet pliable and teachable. He patiently listens and learns from others who've never known freedom of worship. More importantly he waited patiently for God to teach him and to reveal to him what he needed to learn. Not only is this moving to me, but it was an important lesson for me.
  2. A second, is he expresses what he sees, thinks, smells, tastes, feels, fears, prays for, is shocked by, regretful of, angered by, broken by, and touched by. The Insanity of God is more than descriptive, it's raw and real. It does not shrink back from what a Christian would "only" want to describe or even read.
  3. It's boldly apparent that Nik and his family could never have worked in the mission field on their own initiative, or strength, or perseverance, or aptitude. It is only in and by God's power and grace, that they've been able to do this "task".
  4. Western thought since 911 has been that the radical Islamic people are the enemy, or since the early and mid 20th century North Korea or Communism is our enemy. Nik put it in perspective for me when he wrote, "I had to work hard to remember that neither Islam nor Muslim were the real enemy here. Lostness was the enemy." 
  5. There is a lot of dialogue and hateful words exchanged about homosexuality, or purity before marriage, abortion, or same-sex marriage. I'm not saying these issues are unimportant; but they will never be what is most important, the Gospel message of Jesus Christ
  6. Earlier this year I read and reviewed a book about Biblical living. The book was interesting, well-written, entertaining, and a conversation starter. But while I was reading that book I thought about all the missionaries that have sold all they had, moved far away leaving family and friends, living in hostile areas, succumbing to sickness and disease, living without modern conveniences, existing as the people they are ministering to live. I thought then, that was real Biblical living. Forsaking all for Jesus is radical Biblical living.
I was blown away by this story. I cannot state enough how much I recommend it. It spoke to my heart and my soul.

Favorite quotes:
"We made a conscious choice to be salt and light in a place gone mad. And we prayed that, somehow the light would shine in the midst of this dark insanity." page 89.
But we worked hard to remember-and to remind one another-that only our Creator God has ultimate power over life and earth. We knew that such authority was never ours to assume." page 107

Authors site:

To read an excerpt:

Another review from The Gospel Coalition:

Link @ Amazon:
Paperback $10.19
Kindle $9.68

Nik Ripken is the world’s leading expert on the persecuted church in Muslim contexts. He is a missions veteran of 25 years, having served primarily in North Africa and the Middle East. He is the author of many articles and, along with his wife, has done extensive research on the persecuted church, and on Muslim background believers, in approximately 60 countries.~~~Bio. from B&H Books site.