No Greater Love is a memoir of one man's and one family's journey- physical and spiritual- to Ethiopia to care for unwanted orphans. When Levi Benkert, a successful businessman, first received a call to travel to Ethiopia to help with an orphanage for "cursed" children who had been rescued from death, he planned to refuse. Little did he know that not only would he travel to Ethiopia for this short term trip, but his family would also relocate to Ethiopia to work to save the orphans.
Levi Benkert, along with Candy Chand, shares this memoir of his journey. From struggling in a failing business, to making his own plans, to learning to trust God through all, this is truly a spiritual journey as well as a physical one. This is a moving retelling of Levi's story. With an easy, conversational tone, it was easy to read and difficult to put down. I was moved to hear of the plight of these "cursed" orphans. I was inspired by the faith of Levi and his wife as they sought to trust God in the midst of some difficult times. And I was reminded, once again, to listen to hear God's call for my own life.
I give this one a strong 4, inspirational stars and a G rating.
A little while ago, I got the chance to read this book, No Greater Love by Levi Benkert. I received it free from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for a review. I was not required to give a positive review but I'm going to give one for this book! I wanted to read this book because it's subject has been touching my heart lately. As I prepare myself for going to Africa myself in November, I wanted to read about other peoples journey's. I think it arrived in the mail on a Friday and by Saturday morning I was finished with it. It was by no means a short book but I just couldn't put it down. I was in tears before I even finished the first chapter.
Levi Benkert had been playing at the park with his kids when he got a phone call from a friend urging him to take a two week trip to Ethiopia. He went and 6 weeks later, he and his wife sold their house, packed up their kids and moved there. They rescued children who were condemned to death by a tribal superstition.
His stories of their triumphs and their failures will touch your heart. His stories were honest and at times very raw. His journey was not an easy one but he found purpose and meaning to his life. I highly recommend this book. One statement jumped out at me and I'd heard it before but forgot it was this. "We were made for more than this" This book challenges you to step out in faith and do the unthinkable. I loved it.
Generally, few people expect that a single phone call will change everything about them. Levi Benkert is no exception, yet within a few short months one phone call had him moving from one continent to another, engaging in a ministry he didn’t even know about, and learning lessons he didn’t even know he needed to learn. In the introduction to the book, Levi says “God needs no heroes to work for Him…if our family accomplished good, it wasn’t because of us – it was because of Him.” That humble statement is symbolic of the way in which Levi tells his tale – he didn’t know he was going to be a hero, and yet there are Ethiopian “mingi” children alive today because he followed his heart and His God into the sun-scorched middle of nowhere and spent himself. If that isn’t a hero in the most classic sense, then I don’t know the meaning of the word.
If you’ve ever watched the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy” you might get the idea that tribal people in the wastelands of Africa are not motivated by spiritual concerns, except in a good way. The reality is that in places all over the world, the mystical and spiritual circumstances are desperate – people are people, after all, and where there is disease and misfortune, someone must be blamed. In remote Ethiopian villages, the blame rests on children who have done nothing other than have their upper teeth grow before their bottom ones. There are other circumstances wherein children are declared “mingi” there, but they are no more substantial than the order of teeth coming in.
Enter Levi and his family. Through the grace of God, they began working among the tribes in Ethiopia to at least keep the children from their mandated deaths – instead trying to take care of them as orphans. The whole story is so complex and in some places frustrating and difficult, but in the end, God worked through the Benkert family to offer hope where there had only been desperation. James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” The Benkerts did just that. They lived their faith, purely and faultlessly, to God’s glory.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
I recently read the story of Levi Benkert and his family who, faced with the collapse of their finances and his business, did something just a tad bit radical. Faced with pressures too real in this economic downturn, and maybe feeling desperate and a little panic, they sold most of their possessions and packed up their kids and moved to Ethiopia to take charge of a new orphange in a village called Jinka. What was supposed to be a brief visit to help, and really to get a break for Levi and some perspective, turned their lives upside down and rightside up. They faced some major hardships, obviously.What looked so dismal at first ended up being a blessing to their spiritual lives. I would have liked to have read more details in this book. It lacked discriptions and richness, which is unfortunate because it's an amazing story. I'm not saying it wasn't a good read, because it was, it just really left me hungry to be able to visualize more as I read- expressions, places, and of course just to know what the people looked like. Levi is so humble, and the book is written from his humility and it seems to me that for that reason the story lacked color.He was painfully honest about his failings, and while I admired that, I still would have liked the book to focus more on the daily life in Ethiopia and to see the people in the story developed more. I'm glad I found his facebook page because I was finally able to see what he and his family looked like. I don't know why that's so important to me, but it is.
It turns out this little family was majorly instrumental in the country of Ethiopia finally facing the issue of child murders- an ancient practice of what is essentially child sacrifice to appease evil spirits. They had (have?) rules regarding children- if they are conceived without the proper notification to the elders of their tribes, out-of-wedlock, or if their teeth top teeth come in before their bottom teeth, they are considered "mingi", cursed. The tribes believed they would all be cursed if they didn't kill these children. Infants, after being born, would be left out in the elements with a handful of red, dry, dusty earth poured into their mouths to suffocate. Practices also included drowning. Many, many infants and children, although loved, were murdered.The mother in me was freaking out! I SO wanted to be there and grab up babies to take home. Levi and his wife and a few others brought awareness to the government of the practice that was mainly going on in the remote regions south- it turns out many in the cities had no clue what was going on in rural villages. I'm not going to say more because there story is worth you reading for yourself. It's inspiring to be reminded that one person, or a group of people, really can make a difference. This family, seemingly on accident, made a huge difference in the lives of rural Ethiopians. It's a modern day missionary tale that will effect you, maybe it lacks more meat, but it's good! I'm not complaining, just saying I wouldn't mind of this book were a little thicker, with more descriptions and more depth. I read it quickly, feeling like I'd like to have spent more time with this characters- real people, but they went by too quickly.
*This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.
It's called mingi killing. Ethiopian tribes still enslaved to superstition believed some children are cursed. The very presence of a mingi child in the village would cause the evil spirits to send disaster.
So they kill the children.
A child could be mingi because he's born to unmarried parents or his married mother and father did not announce in a public ceremony that they were trying to conceive a child. Or maybe the baby's top teeth cut through her gums before her bottom. Even an older child whose grown up teeth grew in top first would have to be killed. Maybe they'd use starvation or drowning or cram dirt into a baby's mouth and leave the baby to die in the dust. The point was, the cursed child was dead and the people needn't fear the wrath of evil village spirits.
Levi Benkert moved to Ethiopia with his family after a simple phone call asked him to go over and help out with the efforts to save mingi children there. His family's adaptation to Ethiopian life wasn't always easy (who could get used to weeks without running water or power)? Even their calling in Ethiopia changed over time as they understood the culture better and even as the culture itself shifted.
The book is simple and heartbreaking, honest and straightforward--not as fully poetic as some of these memoirs are. It's an easy read that isn't easy to forget. While Levi talks some about his faith and a little about praying, this book isn't really making an overarching spiritual plea or necessarily calling for others to respond in the same way.
Yet, still the book reminds us that the world is so much bigger than our own personal lives and that God is consistent throughout Scripture in caring passionately for the orphans and widows. He has them in his sight and expects us to serve them and care for them, as well. As James writes: "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you" (James 1:27).
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
To say that I liked this book would be a little tough. This book left me heartbroken and sad and wanting to do something to help. It was a book that did not have a happy ending, which Levi tried telling me but I just didn't understand how it couldn't until I came to the end and looked back. This book has left me changed.
Levi and his family left all they had and knew and flew to Ethiopia to work with a tribe that was killing their children because they were "mingi." They could be declared "mingi" if a child's top teeth came in before their bottom teeth, if the parents were unmarried, or if the married couple didn't have a ceremony saying that they were going to try to conceive. They would then kill the the baby upon birth or after they realized their child was "mingi." One child was a bit older and ran away. He knew his parents were going to kill him and had no doubt seen it done to his friends.
The stories of the killings were heartbreaking. I honestly had no idea that tribes were doing this today. I knew some were forcing abortions, etc, but didn't know that they were outright killing them because they were afraid of evil spirits. My eyes were opened to the fact that a mother could hurt for her child, but still allow her child to be harmed.
When I finished this book, which I don't think any review could ever do this book justice, I hopped online to find out more about this organization and how to help save these children. They need Jesus and the only way they will know about Him is if we help Levi and his family.
Levi and his family willingly went to Ethiopia, set up an orphanage and ran it, fought through difficulties, adopted a few children out, said goodbye to that orphanage for certain reasons talked about in the book, and began a new orphanage and ministry. All of this while balancing work, marriage, and 4 kids.
This book is small, a fast read, and is a book that everyone should read. You won't feel the same about Ethiopia after you've read this book. I guarantee you will want to be a part of this ministry. Take a chance and open your eyes to the world beyond America. ___________________ I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
"No Greater Love" by Levi Benkert and Candy Chand features the true story of the Benkert family as they journey from America to Africa on a path that could only be constructed by God. Benkert was a successful real estate developer until the housing market crash caused his business to go under. Near the ending of his company and facing an uncertain future, a pastor friend contacted him about possibly going to Ethiopia to help organize a rescue orphanage. He took a leap of faith and signed on. What he saw and experienced changed his life forever. Utterly touched by the lives of the children he met, he and his family sell everything and head to southern Ethiopia to settle in a help with the orphanage. The children they work to rescue are from the Kara tribe, sentenced to death because they are believed to be "cursed". The Benkert family embarks on a wild journey over the next couple of years that results in greater dependence on God, a shift in ministry focus, and an incredible desire to make a difference in the world for these children in Ethiopia.
It's a wonderful book about the great things that God can do through people who are simply willing to allow themselves to be poured out. The only thing I would have loved to see more explanation about was regarding the adoption issue. It appears that the Benkerts were able to adopt one of the rescue children, but other adoptions were not allowed to take place. A little more explanation and clarification would have added to the overall satisfaction of the book.
(I’ve received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)
This was an emotional story. There was a lot in it I could relate to. Levi tells his story of how he enjoyed great business success and the financial gains that come from that success and then the resulting downfall created by the recession. His family ends up going to Ethiopia to help with an orphanage and they end up staying there. This was a very touching story. I appreciate the emotion and honesty of running away from life's problems and calling it ministry. There's no question they love the children and people of Ethiopia very much and what may have started out as running away, God turned into a passion and love that is changing children and widow's lives. Levi does a really great job describing the incredibly emotional spiritual journey their family has been on over the past few years. This seems to be an amazing ministry. I received this book free from Tyndale publishers in exchange for my review
this book has touched my heart so much and I couldn't put it down I read this amazing story in 2 days. I have a soft spot for Africa and grab up any and every book about this country that is so breath taking. This book was a wonderful book and I have a lot of admiration for a family that can uproot and leave all the comfort, security, modern day conveniences to safe these poor defenseless children have a chance at life.
Levi and Jesse are heroes in my book. They totally followed a calling they had. Even when they had times were they weren't sure if what they were doing was the right thing to do or even helping the children in the orphanage. They stayed true and knew that God wanted them there and to continue their work. I don't even want to think about what was the original fate of these kids before Levi and Jesse came and started the orphanage to save these kids from mingi killings. They have not only saved so many life's but touched so many beyond Africa. Everyone who reads this book will be touched and get so much out of it.
So grab a copy of No Greater Love for yourself and read the amazing story of a family and their greater mission in life to make the life of these precious children in Africa safe and full of love.
thank you tyndale for sending me this amazing book, I'm so honored to have read their story and will follow their journey further.
No Greater Love is a book that will change your life. Levi Benkert went from a successful real estate career to great financial loss in the housing mess in 2008. At the time when his life was at a crossroads he made the startling decision to take his wife and small children and move to Ethiopia to help save children who were being murdered by their own families due to tribal superstition. He felt God's leading but had no idea of all the turmoil that was in store. The family ended up adopting one of the babies that was abandoned to die by its family and went through much government red tape and craziness to make that happen. After putting all their blood, sweat and tears into the orphanage they were working with, they were pushed out by the local directors and changes in the country's laws. They have now started a new organization in the country's capital, Addis Ababa, which provides a family atmosphere for orphans and work for widows. They have found themselves to be dramatically changed by their lives in Ethiopia and anyone reading this book will at the very least have their outlook on what is important in life radically changed.
I received this book from Tyndale to review and am very grateful that I did. This book has spoken to something deep within me about life's purpose. I challenge everyone to read this book and have their world view transformed.
Levi Benkert was your ordinary Christian guy: stressed about money, worried about being a good father, and struggling to find balance in his relationship with God. One day, though, everything changed. His old friend called - Levi describes him as "the one person who wasn't going to ask for money" - and shared a need about an orphanage in Ethiopia.
This book is the story of Levi's family and their journey to make a difference in a place without hope. If you've ever heard an inspirational story about someone who goes overseas to work in an orphanage, this book is not inspirational in that way. This book shows you the nitty-gritty of what it means to physically go and make a difference in the world of someone you don't even know.
The Benkert's didn't sell their house of belongings and go to Ethiopia to feel good about themselves. They did it because God wants Christians to help those in need. Instead of sending money overseas or "praying really hard," this family actually got out of their comfort zone and went. They were called, and they went.
If you want to read a book that will make you feel good about yourself, this is not that book. If, however, you're looking for an example of what it means to truly sacrifice yourself for the well being of others, this is that book.