Levi Benkert was a California developer dealing with the fallout of the real estate bust when he casually took a phone call one day at the park. Little did he know, that phone call would change his life.
A friend was calling to ask him to take a two week trip to Ethiopia to help with an orphanage they ran to save young children from the superstitious practice known as "mingi." In many tribes, children were deemed cursed, or mingi, if there parents were not married, if the parents did not formally announce they were trying to conceive, or if the child's upper teeth came in before their bottom teeth. Keeping a mingi child meant that they were inviting evil spirits to the community, and thus they killed the children to keep them away.
Worried that it would seem he was running away from his responsibilities (and perhaps he was), Benkert felt the pull to go on this trip. Upon arriving back in the US after his two week trip, he knew that he needed to go back to save these children. And so Levi, his wife and three kids sold all their worldly possessions and moved to Ethiopia to help put an end to the brutal practice of mingi.
No Greater Love is Levi's story of the work they did (and continue to do) in Ethiopia and their struggle to do what God was calling them to do in the midst of a life that is completely foreign to them.
If you're looking for a feel-good missionary story, this is not it. And that is why I loved this book so much. I am in awe of people who do missionary work around the world and they are doing fantastic work. But it's not the rosy picture it is often made out to be. And Benkert is so completely honest about their naivety going into this work and how uninformed and unprepared they were. He is also completely honest about the difficulty of the work and the many moments where they wondered why they were there, how God could want them to do this, whether or not they were actually making a difference, and whether it was worth the discomfort and trouble it was causing them.
This should be required reading for people going on mission trips. Not to scare them out of the work but to prepare them for the difficulty they will inevitably face. To show them that the work is going to be hard but worth it.
This is a book that is difficult to put down, you'll want to read right through in one sitting. It's heart-breaking and inspiring. You will be amazed at the Benkert's story, their determination and their strength. This is a fascinating story of people called by God to care for orphans and proves that the most important thing no matter where you are in life is to trust in God no matter what your situation looks like.
To learn more about the practice of mingi check out this article in Christianity Today.
To learn more about the Benkert's work in Ethiopia check out their website Bring Love In.
I received this book as part of Tyndale's book blogger program. The opinions expressed above are my own and I have received no compensation.