The Doctor's Mission
By Debbie Kaufman
Love Inspired Historical, 2011
A woman doctor! Missionary William Mayweather can't hide his disappointment. The Nynabo mission in Liberia, Africa, desperately needs help, but he's vowed not to put another female in jeopardy. Too bad flame-haired Dr. Mary O'Hara refuses to turn back--and he cannot allow her to go into the jungle alone.
Medicine or marriage? For Mary, the choice was clear. Far away from the patriarchal medical community, she resolves to be of real service. She'll willingly go head-to-head with the handsome, opinionated missionary, even in the face of deadly danger. Yet the greatest tests lie in trusting God's plan - for the mission, and her future happiness in this untamed, beautiful land.
The Doctor's Mission by Debbie Kaufman is a pioneering missionary romance set in Liberia, Africa during the early 1900s. This is a surprising addition to the Love Inspired Historical line because of its theme, characterization, realism, depth of story, and setting - a book that stands out among others in this line. I am drawn to missionary stories because of the dedication and commitment it takes to leave the relative comfort of home and go into an unfamiliar culture - and in many areas today, missionaries go at great personal risk. All of that and more is a part of The Doctor's Mission and I am so glad God put this story on Debbie's heart!
Debbie's passion for missions shines through in a narrative that is extremely well researched, and the historical aspect blends seamlessly into the easily-flowing plot. Liberia in 1918 actually became a main character to me. Inhabited by native tribes, some of which were cannibalistic, Liberia was a dangerous and spiritually dark place; even government troops were hesitant to travel its interior. Witchcraft and fear ruled: "Here unexplained death is considered a result of witchcraft. And the witch must be found and punished."
Mary and William are great lead characters - gifted for ministry, passionate about their work, determined to accomplish much - although they initially try to succeed by relying on self, something to which most of us can relate. William's plan was to make many converts among the unreached tribes and Mary volunteered for the mission, full of fear and doubt when it came to her medical abilities. The inevitable conflict between these two, their unwilling attraction, and the way they learn to surrender to God's plan combine to make a story that kept me eagerly turning the pages.
"For all my learning, it is one with a childlike
faith who teaches me." - William
One of my favorite characters was Hannabo, a man who bridged both worlds with his missionary education and his native origins. His simple words reflect a strong, deep-rooted faith: "My belief is not in you, Nana Pastor. It is in the God who saved me." I would love to see Hannabo have his own story.
One of the themes this story focuses on God's sovereignty, and that's something that I never tire of being reminded of. Opening his eyes to the fact that God is in control of all things was hard for William, and I enjoyed going on this journey with him.
The story also pictures various ways in which people can be drawn to Christ - through fervent preaching, compassionate healing, a gentle witness - but sometimes it's the death of a servant of God. This story asks the age-old question: Do we really believe that all things work together for good, even the bad things in our lives? Reflecting on the earlier deaths of his aunt and uncle, William asks: "Did he believe, or did his faith draw a line that God had crossed . . .?"
I especially like it when a work of Christian fiction causes me to reflect on my faith, and The Doctor's Mission did exactly that. Strongly recommended.
Debbie writes . . .
"One day my daughter and son-in-law brought me a book written by one of his relatives, a former missionary to cannibal tribes in Liberia. Months went by before I read it, but when I did, I knew I had to create a missionary romance set in Liberia.
"On a three-day lakeside writing retreat, I typed nonstop. The result was the first three chapters of Pastor Mayweather's and Dr. O'Hara's love story. Afterward, I heard no one would buy a book set in Liberia.
"But sometimes God directs us in unexpected ways, ones that make others doubt our good sense. When that happens, the best thing is to simply obey and watch the adventure unfold."
Debbie's next novel, Journey of Hope (January 2014), is also set in Liberia. Meet Debbie online at debbiekaufman.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
Thank you to Debbie Kaufman for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.