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Issue 9-05

Read Any Good Books Lately?

One of the great delights David and I have experienced this last year is being invited to be part of a “Read and Intercede “ book group. Our friends Judy and Bruce Duncan live nearby in West Chicago and each second Sunday of the month, they open their home to a group of us who are committed to increasing our ethnic awareness, who want to become educated in global thinking, and who feel passionate about connecting with the foreign-born who live as neighbors among us. (Recent statistics indicate that some 32 million foreign-born live within the boundaries of the United States.)

Judy, who has a God-given passion to connect with internationals, is finishing her graduate degree at Wheaton College in cross-cultural studies. She dreams of starting a coffee center that will provide a locale where internationals can connect and interact with one another as well as with hospitable and interested Americans. Consequently, our “Read and Intercede” book group enjoys sampling the lattes, cappuccinos, espressos and great cups of fair-trade coffees Judy provides from her professional coffee-bar set up in the family room.

Apart from sampling coffees, we have also ventured around the world in our reading and in our prayers. Let me summarize: A “Read and Intercede” book club focuses on works (both fiction and nonfiction) written primarily by internationals that help us discover cultural insights, so we might connect culturally with our new neighbors.

Without a doubt, this has been one of the most enjoyable small groups I have experienced (in a lifetime of excellent small groups). We attempt to read titles written by international authors out of the culture in which they live. These voices, coming from a variety of religious, ethnic and economic persuasions, inform, challenge and invite us to enter into a dialogue with each other and with the work. Every once in a while, we include works written by specialists who lend analyses about varying cultures, but all the books must open up a world to us we may or may not have visited, but can certainly enter by crossing the borders of our open pages.

Some of titles we encountered last year were:
•    Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
•    Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
•    We Are All the Same by Jim Wooten
•     Heavenly Man by Brother Yun
•    Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
•    Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande
•     The Other Path by Hernando Soto
•    Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
•    The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade by Victor Malarek
•    The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre
•    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
•    Welcoming the Stranger by Matthew Sorens and Jenny Hwang
•    The Blue Sky by Galsan Tschinag

Last month we started a new reading cycle, beginning with Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson, a book many of us had read years ago but that we delighted to visit again.

What is wonderful about this journey is not only the learning curve but the praying curve. We actually do spend a good 30 to 45 minutes traveling around the world with our prayers. Judy constantly reminds us of the internationals who are our neighbors, and with that in mind, we are looking at the following titles for the rest of this year (considering the internationals we come in contact with here where we live, outside of West Chicago, Illinois in DuPage County).

•    Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour (Israel-Palestine)
•    Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa (India)
•    The Stones Cry Out: A Cambodian Childhood, 1975-1980 by Molyda Szymusiak and Linda Coverdale (Cambodia)
•    Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong (Vietnam)
•    Simon Bolivar, the Liberator: Father of Five Nations by Guillermo A. Sherwell (South America)
•    Inca Trails: Journey Through the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes by Martin Li (Bolivia/Peru)
•    Weep Not, Child by James Ngugi (The Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya)
•    Grain of Wheat by James Ngugi (Kenya)
•    Allah Is Not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma (North Africa)

I would like to invite you to be part of our book group. (And actually, if you are in the near western suburbs and this kind of journey punches some buttons, we do have room for several more couples and some more singles. This month we are reading Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan, and David has extra copies.)

For those of you who are not local or can’t fit this kind of commitment into your schedule, I would encourage you at least to begin reading books that open the world up to you. Read with at least another friend (or two), discuss what you have read and take time to pray for the world you have just discovered. “For God so loved the world…” That, of course, is the message of this Easter week we are celebrating … forgiveness, redemption and resurrection for the whole world. Globalization brings that world nearer to us every year.

What have you been reading lately?

Karen Mains


"Read and Intercede" Book Group

If you are eager to be part of the lively intellectual and spiritual exchange this kind of book group affords (and you live in the nearby western Chicago suburbs) please contact Judy Duncan at . She will be happy to give you details and directions.

WHOOPS! We Miscounted Heads for
the April 3-Day Retreat of Silence!

Due to my heavy travel schedule the past months, I thought we had six gals signed up plus two retreat leaders, making a total of eight. So I announced the retreat was full because there were four spaces being reserved for women not on the Hungry Souls list.

Off the road and with a much closer look, I discovered we only had three firm sign-ups plus two retreat leaders and that we had room for seven more gals! If you want a quiet spring break for the soul—after Easter—that gives you enough time to do the work of entering into Resurrection season, this is an ideal opportunity.

The dates are Sunday, April 18 to Wednesday, April 21. We arrive on Sunday before dinner and leave for home on Wednesday after the noon meal. This is a guided retreat of silence so you will not be on your own. There will be debriefing sessions for the group as well as opportunities to meet with a spiritual director. We also love the tradition of attending morning, noontime and evening prayers with the worshipping community.

Because of all the work Hungry Souls has been doing with Listening Groups, because of the “Listen to My Life” mapping and the Inner-Child Recovery workgroup, I’ve become aware of how many of us have “mother holes” that need healing. St. Mary’s Monastery, where we meet for our 3-Day Retreats of Silence, is a working Benedictine community filled with the life of loving, hospitable, praying (and happy) sisters. The grounds are lovely, each room has its own bath, and the environment is holy. This is a good place to receive healing for some of those mother losses or to do the work of post-Easter observance (which sometimes we can’t get to as women because we are in charge of so many holiday preparations). St. Mary’s is in Rock Island, IL, about a two-hour drive from the western suburbs.

If at the last minute, you look at your calendar and think, You know, I could fit that in. What’s more, it really sounds great!, let me know. Contact me at .

The price is $225 per person per single room. This includes meals, retreat materials, etc. Karen Franzen, campus pastor for Willow McHenry, and Brenna Jones, spiritual director, are scheduled to co-lead the retreat.

We do need to have your sign-up and some monies down by April 8. Just so you know: I am maturing and not panicking about this. I think there are some of you who didn’t think you could make this retreat earlier, but now are free to do so. I’m guessing this “glitch” in my administrative abilities was provided by God so you could consider going at this time.


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Karen Mains

Karen Mains

"What is wonderful about this journey is not only the learning curve but the praying curve. We actually do spend a good 30 to 45 minutes traveling around the world with our prayers."


Eternity in Their Hearts
By Don Richardson

Back-cover copy:

Don Richardson, author of the best-selling book Peace Child, has studied cultures throughout the world and found within hundreds of them startling evidence of belief in the one true God. In Eternity in Their Hearts, Richardson gives fascinating, real-life examples of ways people have exhibited in their histories terms and concepts that have prepared them for the gospel. Read how Pachacuti, the Inca king who founded Machu Picchu, the majestic fortress in Peru, accomplished something far more significant than merely building fortresses, temples or monuments. He sought, reached out and found a God far greater than any popular “god” of his own culture. And there have been others throughout the world, like him, who lived to receive the blessing of the gospel. Get ready to be amazed at these intriguing examples of how God uses redemptive analogies to bring all men to Himself, bearing out the truth from Ecclesiastes that God “has also set eternity in the hearts of men.”

Karen says:

This book transformed my thinking about finding God’s redemptive analogies in popular American culture. I never viewed a film, watched a video, looked at a piece of art or read a work of fiction again without seeing if there were symbols and deep meanings that went beyond what even their human creators (filmmakers, videographers, artists and writers) understood. Even if you don’t belong to a "Read and Intercede" group, this is a book you will want to read (or re-read again).

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