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WaterBrook Press Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream

Living the American dream, Hilary and Curt Alan were high-profile professionals living with their children in an affluent neighborhood. But everything changed when they answered God's call to move to a Muslim province in Southeast Asia to help people rebuild after a devastating tsunami. Join them as they grapple with hard choices and experience overwhelming joy.
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Customer Reviews for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Review 1 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Do You Act When God Calls

Date:May 20, 2013
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Rebaka
Location:Huntsville, TX
Age:45-54
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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Sent by Hilary Alan is the story of a middle class suburban family who has everything that is important, in today’s world and gives it up to find so much more.
Curt and Hilary Alan along with their two children, Jordan and Molly are living the American dream in North Carolina when Curt attends a seminar and their lives are drastically changed. In 2005, they begin to sell everything they have and began the long journey that will take them to Southeast Asia where the devastating tsunami hit in 2004. This is a third world country where the Muslim religion is taught and everything that Hilary and her family knew and believed was being questioned by them once they became emerged with a culture that doesn’t favor the things that Westerners do.
Hilary Alan provides a story that is easy to follow and shares with us the feelings that she and her family went through as their lives were intertwined with people like Lee, Natalie, and Adele, among others that were put in their lives to help them and be a witness to them. Americans are not the only ones that can be an influence to others. I strongly believe that there are people that can be a big witness to us. Remember a witness is someone who shows us daily what life is all about.
Also, it is good to hear about the struggles that Hilary and her family had, and I’m sure still are having, in coming back to the USA and the changes that are taking place within their selves . I’m not glad they had major issues but I have a friend that has been in a third world country and I’m still seeing struggles that she is having to be with the friends and the country that is her second home.
I found this book to be very moving and inspiring. I laughed, smiled and cried while reading it. God calls us each to be the light in the darkness in many different ways. I have been on many mission trips that when I come home I long for the people that I had the privilege to get to know but I don’t think that I’m called to go and live among them, at least not right now. God put them in my path for a reason. I’m just glad for many avenues in this modern world that we can stay in touch.
I have already bought several books to give to people that I know and also for our church library.
Watherbrook Multnomah Publishers has provided me a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
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Review 2 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Sent- A must read!

Date:April 9, 2013
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AmyT
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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Wow. Have you ever read a book that was so amazing you had a hard time putting it down. Sent by Hilary Alan was that kind of book for me. Hilary and her husband were strong Christians who lived a comfortable life, yet they knew there was more to life than just earning money and trying to get ahead. They wanted to hear from God and when they did the two words, "Follow Me" changed their lives forever. Selling everything they had and moving their family to a war torn, Muslim province in Southeast Asia that had just been ravaged by the tsunami they found out the true joy and peace in obeying these words and finding joy that was unmatched.
I love how in Sent, Hilary Alan doesn't make you feel like you must go and be a missionary, yet she compels us to ask the Lord, "Am I doing everything You have called me to?" A question every believer should be asking continually. Hilary Alan contradicts the thought that "the safest place to be is the center of God's will." She proves in her testimony that sometimes God ask us to go to war torn, tsunami effected areas so it is not necessarily safe, but "The center of God's will is absolutely the most peaceful place and the most obedient place to be." (pg 37)
Sent is not a book that is just about one person or a couples call to go be missionaries, but about how God called the whole family to be lights and to go across the world for Him. I love how her whole family is included and involved not only in the decision process but also in the life they lived while in Southeast Asia. Hilary Alan shares what it is to be a mom who is called to a life that not only is she unsure for herself but for her children as well. She shows how God will call the whole family, as a group and individually and how what seemed could be a sacrifice became a blessing instead.
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Review 3 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

A great challenge for Jesus followers.

Date:February 15, 2013
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ericcrisp
Location:Taneytown, MD
Age:35-44
Gender:male
Quality: 
4 out of 5
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"Following Jesus in obedience is worth risking our life, because His is that trustworthy." (Sent, pg 34)
The message of Sent: How One Ordinary Family Traded the American Dream for God's Greater Purpose by Hilary Alan can be summed up by the quote above. The book tells the story of how the author's family, led by their sense of God's purpose for them, left the comfort of their life in upper middle class America to serve as relief missionaries to tsunami-torn southeast Asia.
There are a number of very powerful and challenging aspects of the book that will leave the reader praying for clarity of God's will. Ms. Alan does not assume that everyone is called to leave their current situation in life and head to the mission field. She is also very careful to make clear that her family is not more holy than any other family because of the decision they made. The who point of her story is to challenge everyone who follows Jesus to seek the will of God for their lives. This seeking, however, may require us to get out of our places of comfort and sacrifice for the Kingdom of God. When we answer the call of Jesus to "Follow Me," this following will often lead to holy sacrifice rather than the ease of the American dream.
I found the real heart of the book and the most compelling stories in the second half of the book. Once she begins to tell of their encounters with people in southeast Asia, we begin to see what following God looks like. What was extremely compelling to me about this section was that she doesn't paint a picture of instant revival or easy "conversions" as she and her family build relationships with the local families. Instead, we see the Alan family giving small glimpses of Jesus to people who have a misconception about who Jesus is. This is refreshing and, to me, is a story many of us need to hear.
Ms. Alan's writing was, at times, a little difficult for me to read. I felt her sentences were awkward from time to time and this may be why I struggled connecting to the first half of the book. But in spite of this, I found her family's story challenging and a needed call to many of us who claim to follow Jesus in the United States to truly ask what it means to "follow" and then be SENT.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review purposes 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 4 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

This book was inspiring!

Date:January 31, 2013
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Lynnae
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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What would it be like to leave everything you own, your friends and family, and the comforts of living in the United States to travel halfway around the world and live in a 3rd world country? A country devastated by a tsunami. A country where you can’t speak or understand the language.
Would you do it? Would you do it if you had kids in middle school and high school? Would you do it if your kids had to give up their passions, at least for the time you were overseas? Would you do it if the third world country where you were to move was hostile toward Christians?
Would you do it if you felt like God was calling you to do it?
These are the questions that Alan family struggled with as they felt called to give up their comfortable life in North Carolina to help the people of Southeast Asia rebuild their community after the great tsunami of 2004.
The Alans lived a comfortable life. They made a good income. They had a nice home. They were active in their church. But when God called them to move to Southeast Asia, they sold everything they had, packed up their children, and answered the call.
Sent: How One Ordinary Family Traded the American Dream for God’s Greater Purpose is Hilary Alan’s account of the call, her family’s time spent in Southeast Asia, and the way God changed her family while they were there. She recounts their struggles and their triumphs. She shares about the difficulty transitioning to another culture, one that doesn’t accept Christians readily. And she shares how that culture changed her…and how her family changed the people.
Sent is an inspiring story. The Alan family isn’t a spiritual super-power of a family. They are a family much like any family you see in church on a given Sunday. A family like yours. Like mine. And when God called them to do something radical, they stepped forward in faith and did it. Despite their fears. Despite the fact that their kids were at a “bad age” to make a major move. Despite the fact that God’s call seemed to be too difficult.
I really enjoyed reading about the Alan’s experiences in Southeast Asia. Some of the stories Hilary Alan tells are amazing. God provided not only for their needs, but their wants. He taught them to slow down. To appreciate the few Christian comrades in their community. To rely on God like never before.
Sent made me really evaluate my life. If God were to call me to drop everything and go overseas, would I go? I’d love to say yes, but I can already hear the voice in my head saying, “But I have a high schooler.” “But I have a toddler.” “But I don’t have the money.” Excuse after excuse after excuse.
Hilary Allen, through her book, shows that if God calls, he provides a way. As she says in Sent, “…obedience is not always easy, but obedience is always best.” (p. 216)
Sent is a quick and easy read. At the same time, it’s a thought provoking book, because it challenges the reader to evaluate her own life and what she would be willing to give up to serve God.
Do you want to be inspired? Do you want to be challenged? Do you want to see how God took an ordinary family and used them mightily in a community halfway around the world? Then you need to read this book!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.
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Review 5 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Could You Give It All Up?

Date:January 16, 2013
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CornerstoneKat
Location:Edmond, OK
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
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You ever wonder how foreign missionaries can give up everything to live and minister overseas? Or, what they are really thinking when they DO decide to go overseas? I've often wondered these things as well as thought, "could I ever do it?"
Could you do it?
I mean what about my kids? Would it be a wise thing to move to some remote third-world country with my kids as young as they are?
What about my family? We intentionally live only a few hours from our families because we enjoy spending time with them. Could I get used to living halfway across the world and only seeing them once every few years?
What about my friends? Who would I be able to talk too when times get tough? I mean I know "God" and "my husband" are the obvious answers but still, I would really miss that face-to-face interaction with some of my friends whom I hold so dear.
All those things we hold onto...could you do it? Could you really give it all up if God were to call your family overseas?
Follow Me.
Hilary Alan has faced and asked those exact same questions of herself and her family. Her husband was at the top of his field, they were raking in the dough, and living the American life big time. And they gave it all up. Yes, all of it. They sold EVERYTHING and went to one of those unnameable Muslim dominated third-world countries halfway across the world with their two teenage children all because of two words--"Follow me."
I became immersed in her story as she shared all the events leading up to their departure, their time in training, and their adventures overseas as shared in her book, Sent. It was a easy read that I finished within a few days just because I couldn't put it down.
In addition, I gathered so many applicable quotes from this book, it makes me want to read it again. For instance...
"Try to recognize people not as interruptions...but as someone God has put in your life."--Hilary Alan
Or how about this one...
"Your life indictates what's important to you by what you are willing to give up."--J.D. Greear
Probably the part of the her story that pricked my heart the most was where she shares the story of her teenage daughter who was at the top of her ballet class. She was going to have to give up her dream to be a ballet star for the sake of her parent's calling to overseas missions work. It nearly broke my heart. I mean, could I really do that to one of my daughters? Ask them to give up something dear and precious to their life for the sake of spreading the gospel? It's one thing for me to go and give it all up, but to ask your family members to join me?! Oh how it would tear at my soul.
Without giving away too much of "the rest of the story", her daughter ended up getting to pursue ballet after all and Hilary can't wait to return to the field. Hilary shows time and again, how God is so good and how He loves to show us just how awesome He is when we answer His call.
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Review 6 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great Glimpse into Missionary Family Life

Date:December 13, 2012
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AspiringAshley
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
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What happens when an average upper-class American family responds to God's call to forsake everything and follow Him to the other side of the world? They are forever wrecked by God and see the world in a vastly different way. I very much enjoyed following this family as they find out through experience what it means to truly "go and make disciples". From the moment they heard the call, to the moment they left the missions field, this family desired to serve the Lord whatever the cost. Even their young teen children were excited for this mission and actively sought God's will for their lives. It's no surprise that was one of my favorite things in the story! Missions and young people finding their identity in God in one book? Basically my dream story!
This book isn't meant to be a how-to on missions, or a report of the ministry work they're doing. Instead, it's an honest look at the trials of missions work, in addition to the blessings that come from it, as discovered by one family. I found myself laughing and crying at various points while reading their story. A great glimpse into the life, not just ministry, of missionary families.
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Review 7 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Drop Everything!

Date:December 4, 2012
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RecipeRhon
Location:Spring Hill, FL
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
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It’s inspiring to see a couple leave their wealth and everything they own to go to a third world country to work for God; however, what is more amazing is how their teenage son and junior high aged daughter took to the trip. A lot of parents would have given up before they got started thinking of how to deal with the kids on this adventure. But the kids were troopers and God really worked in their lives. I agree with the author that this is the best education that they could have given their kids. There is no feeling than seeing God working in lives, where there is no reason for things to happen other than “it’s a God thing.” I believe that if more people acted on the Lord’s prompting like this family did, then our world would be a different place. I am always inspired when I read about people who have dropped everything to follow Him. What a blessing!
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Review 8 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Answer the Call

Date:November 29, 2012
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brotherjoel
Location:Bernville, PA
Age:35-44
Gender:male
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
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4 out of 5
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In "Sent" Hilary Alan shows an incredible journey of faith and an understanding of what it means to be called by Christ to serve the world. Hilary's call is quite specific as she and her family sacrificed much to travel to South East Asia to assist with community renewal after the devastating 2004 tsunami.
As she shares her story and the sacrifices her family made to follow the dream that God had set in their hearts many truths about Christ, the life of a disciples and what it means to love came across. She consistently shares the truth of the Gospel message and that Jesus Christ is the only way to an eternity with God. She rightly reveals in her writing and to those she was able to touch through her ministry that Christ came into our world to share with us the abundance of God's love. Then through the actions she portrays, we see her family share the love of Christ. This is ultimately a book about love and how we as Christians are called to love others, particularly when their culture and faith differ from ours. Our reflection of Christ does not stop in loving those we encounter at church on a Sunday morning.
As disciples of Christ, we all have a calling--a calling to share His love with the world. Hilary Alan and her family found their specific calling in forsaking much to follow Him by ministering to those destroyed by the tsunami. All of us are called to sacrifice much. If you feel too comfortable in your Christian life, perhaps it is time to take up that cross and lay down your comforts so that others might experience the fullness of Christ's love!
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Review 9 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Well Go Then!

Date:November 25, 2012
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James
Location:Blaine, WA
Age:35-44
Gender:male
Quality: 
3 out of 5
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“The two greatest moments of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you are born.”
Curt Alan heard those words at a conference and came back and shared them with his wife Hilary. The two of them felt that despite the fact that they lived the American dream–two kids, comfortable income, security, they were not doing what they were put on this earth for.
Curt got involved in community ministry at their church and Hilary tried to support her husband as the pressed into God’s calling for their family. In 2004 after the Tsunami which decimated South East Asia, Curt took six weeks off work to help with the relief. This led to a course change for Hilary and Curt and their two kids Jordan and Molly. The Alans moved to a Muslim province in South East Asia to continue to help with the relief. This is the story of their three year tenure there. Hilary Alan tells the story of how they risked everything to follow God, overcame obstacles and culture shock and sought ways to be good neighbors there.
From this book I know very little about the organization that they went with or what the Alans did while they were there. Instead Hilary Alan shares about the significant relationships they built there and where she saw God at work in their lives. She tells the story of Lee an injured doctor friend, Natalie their housekeeper, Glen a shy friend who is drawn in by the community in their home, Adele a Muslim woman who believes in Jesus but has not become a Christian because of a promise she made to her dying mother. Hilary and her family are able to share the love of God with all these people and more through prayer, conversation and acts of compassion.
I liked this book a lot because it is honest about the struggles of following Jesus when it costs you something. I would recommend this book to those who love a good story of God’s faithfulness when we step out on what He’s calling us to. I find stories like this encouraging and Alan is honest about where it has been difficult. She trusts God, but she also struggled with the effect the culture had on her kids and the ways God doesn’t always seem to answer prayer.
I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for this review.
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Review 10 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Ordinary Family Transforms into Missionaries

Date:November 16, 2012
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HomeschoolChristianMom
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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In her book, "Sent", Hilary Alan describes her comfortable Christian life, and how God hinted to her and her husband over the years that perhaps his lucrative career wasn't his true calling. Enjoying the good life while being active in church, these hints were easily pushed aside until they were challenged by the question, "Do you know why you were born?" By leading of the Holy Spirit, often through Godly counsel and circumstance, Hilary and her husband realize God desires them to say "yes" to Him; living in step with His plans rather than their own, no matter how uncomfortable it may become.
The author tells how they were called to become oversea missionaries to a strict Muslim community in Southeast Asia, including the struggles they faced in trying to decide what this would mean for their 2 children, in their preteen & teen years at the time. I appreciated Hilary's refreshing honesty as she evaluated her own past attitudes and behaviors, as well the detail she went into regarding how the change of lifestyle affected her children and husband emotionally and physically. This book didn't paint a fairy-tale portrait of being dazzling, charismatic Christian witnesses in a hopelessly unspiritual place, nor did it portray a worst-case-scenario tale which would serve to invoke pity for the author or present them as pious.
I found the overall tone of this book to be one of reflection on what is most important in life, as well as encouraging- showing repeatedly how faithful God is to those who are called according to His purpose. Reading this helped me to realize in a more tangible way that it is ordinary people who are used by the Lord to be His "hands and feet" on this earth, and that just because God is calling you to do something that seems unusual or way out of your comfort zone, doesn't mean it will be a dazzling or scarring experience- what it does mean is that God has a plan for you that is not necessarily about you, but will absolutely benefit you. If that was too complicated, I simply meant to state that despite our situation or circumstances, obedience to God will build up godly character in our lives and draw us closer to Him in ways we can't accomplish simply by attending Bible study or Sunday worship. Real obedience to God should spill over into every area of our lives, and Hilary does a beautiful job of illustrating just that.
I would recommend this book for families with children 12+ to read together, or for anyone considering going into missions. The reason I would suggest the 12+ age bracket is because there is a loss of life which, although not described with or related to any gore or violence, may be a lot emotionally for younger children to handle. If in doubt, read it first before sharing it with your family, some less-sensitive children may do fine with it at the age of 10. Throughout the struggles, they author turns to God, and while not all questions receive answers, there is definitely closure. I also really enjoyed the fact that Hilary had her (now grown) children write a bit in the last chapters, so you can see how they viewed this time of their life growing up for 3 years in a vastly different culture.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I received a copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purpose of review. I was not required to write a positive review, the opinions are mine.
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Review 11 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Sent

Date:November 15, 2012
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Leah
Location:Michigan
Age:18-24
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
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In this book, Hilary Alan, the author, tells her story about what it is like to be sent. She was successful in her career, marriage, and with her family. Even her kids were successful. Then, one day, she recognized that she barely ever heard from God. Jesus calls us to follow Him. He says, “follow me” and these two words change everything. I really enjoyed this book. It made me open my eyes to things that are going on in my life, things that I need to change. It’s hard to step back and evaluate yourself for what you really are and this book helps in that process. We all need to be Christ followers and Alan gives us some great advice and great things to think about.
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Review 12 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

true example of obedience to God's command

Date:November 13, 2012
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turbo
Location:Santa Monica, CA
Age:55-65
Gender:male
Quality: 
4 out of 5
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This story told by Hilary Alan is a true story of a family that heard God's call to follow me. They left their security in the United States to do missionary work in Asia soon after the tsunami of December 26, 2004.
Alan doesn't sugar coat the daily struggles and joy of ministry. And the adjustments all four of them, Husband, two kids and herself, made. She writes in a episodic manner and that makes the story easy to read.
I would highly recommend this for church groups doing a small group on missions.
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Review 13 for Sent: How a Middle-Class Family Traded Success for God's Bigger Dream
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Living Sent

Date:November 9, 2012
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Book Nerdy
Location:Southern US
Age:25-34
Gender:male
Quality: 
5 out of 5
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Jesus says two words at the end of Luke 9 to 3 different people….”Follow Me”.
Those 2 words fell on the soft hearts of the Alan family. This family was successful in the eyes of society and their family and friends. They had careers that had taken off, allowing them to live comfortably and leisurely as a family of 4. But when the truth of scripture and the voice of the Holy Spirit pricked their heart, they quickly became uncomfortable and unsatisfied with the status quo successful lifestyle.
Through the guidance, conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit, this family sold their earthly treasures and began the process of living sent to Southeast Asia. This story is eye-opening and will challenge your heart to follow Christ at His Word. The story is real. It will have you laughing, yet also will leave you spiritually sober as you see a family forsake all to follow Christ.
“As our possessions started heading out the door, I realized something that had made me feel ashamed. I had wasted so much time searching and shopping for the perfect things for perfect house in my perfect subdivision.”
Once again, this story will challenge you, will awaken you, will convict you. There is a candid, yet sobering Spirit that the reader will see with each turning page. It is amazing how an extraordinary God will use ordinary people to do things that seem impossible. This is a family who was living by sight, but turned their lives upside-down and began living by faith.
Thanks to Multnomah Publishers for sending this book for the purpose of review.
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