August 23, 2012

Review: The Yankee Officer and the Southern Belle

The Yankee Officer and the Southern Belle: A Journey of Love Across Africa is an autobiography written by Nell Robertson Chinchen.  Nell and her husband Jack have served as missionaries in Africa for more than four decades.

The Chinchens were married shortly after World War II. They'd been married for several years before Nell realized her need for the Lord, and longer before Jack would become a believer.  But the Gospel grabbed him tight and didn't let go.  The couple, along with their four children, soon left everything behind for Jack (who, by this time, was in his mid-thirties) to follow the Lord's call to seminary.  After serving in churches herein the US, the family accepted an opportunity to serve as missionaries in Liberia, Africa. 45-year old Jack, Nell and four of their seven children packed their belongings and headed to the jungle.
Waiting on the other side of the Atlantic was a multitude of people. Some had walked for two days to get out of the jungle and then had taken money-buses, and had even slept in the airport, in order to greet us as we arrived in Liberia!...We didn't realize that they were waiting for US until we got off the plane and were completely enveloped in the loving arms of these tribal people who had waited for so long for someone to come and live among them and teach them the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ....We have often said, "What if?' 'What if we had not kept going?' 'What if we had turned back?'(pp. 43-44)
Reading The Yankee Officer and the Southern Belle is like having Nell Chinchen in your kitchen, relating her amazing stories over a cup of something warm and cozy. Her narrative isn't necessarily in chronological order and is, quite honestly, difficult to follow at times. But I felt as if I was catching up with a dear friend.

The book also gave me a new appreciation for missionaries, especially the two young families from my church who are serving overseas. Sometimes we here in the US romanticize the mission field. Nell's story certainly changed my view.  The family has survived fires that destroyed their homes, rebel invasions, and the deaths of many who were close to them. Yet through it all, they have seen the goodness of the Lord.
Investment in LIVES is never a waste. And as we build Bible Colleges across this unstable, volatile African Continent, we are not considering the cost if the buildings do not last forever. We are building men and women for eternity. They will last forever. (p. 174)
I'd like to thank Christian Focus Publications for allowing me to review The Yankee Officer and the Southern Belle as part of a blog tour for the book.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

This sounds really fascinating. I had not heard of it before. I think reading missionary stories every now and again definitely helps to keep one's own situation in perspective. We tend to think we're so much worse off than we really are!

Thanks for highlighting this book!