We all need a heart change. I sometimes think we do not give enough attention to our hearts. Or the hearts of our children. Yet it can be difficult to to teach these matters of the heart. For me, books have always been such a blessing. A wonderful way to gently teach some of those deeper lessons. What a blessing it is to find books like The Heart Changer from Jarm Del Boccio, Author of the debut book from SchoolhouseTeachers.com We received a digital copy of this book as well as a pdf Teacher’s Guide for this review. This story is based upon II Kings 5 in the Bible, most well known as the retelling of the healing of Naaman of leprosy. If you are not familiar with this story, it would do you well to read it before you begin this book. Honestly, I am not a fan of fiction but I can appreciate a good historical fiction book and because this is one of those Bible stories i just adore, I was excited to read and share with you!
This is not a story that slowly pulls you in; from the very first page it draws you in as you find Miriam (this is the name given to the servant girl in the story) who is taken captive and brought to Syria to be a slave of the Captain’s wife. Torn from her family, moved to a strange land; I imagine the emotions she struggled with.As young Jewish girl, far from her home, living in a pagan land, the struggles she must face in order to serve her master and her God. Anger, bitterness, the possibility that her family was murdered by the very people she is now meant to serve. We read on and we learn that it is Naaman whom she serves.
Imagine, if you will, being taken forcefully from your home and family and then having to serve those very people who did such evil deeds against you. Your whole life you have lived according to specific commands about what you wear and what you eat and now – All of that has changed overnight. Now there is pig meat placed before you – so hungry – do you eat what you know to be unclean? Simple little things that we don’t think anything about, suddenly everything is out of our control. What a heart for Jesus one must have to be able to not just serve God in this place but also serve those who are responsible for your current state of being.
I think of how often we allow others around us to control our actions, our reactions, instead of taking the time to see Jesus in the situation. In this story (as you may know) this servant girl, she is the one who tells Naaman where to go that he may be healed of his leprosy.
The Teacher’s Guide really helps in many areas to bring this story to life and make it more personal. There are so many opportunities within the twelve pages that make up this very powerful and rich in learning, guide. There are activities to do map work – it is good to find these places and even to google them and see where they were and where they are today – we are big archeology fans so when we can travel back in time to see for ourselves – it makes such an impact on the lessons being learned. In other activities we may cook some Ruz Ma Bezella (a mother’s day treat in Syria) or some delicious Middle Eastern Kousa Mahshi. I wish I would have taken some photos of these – both really were quite tasty! (there are also links for additional Syrian recipes.)
Between the story itself and the Teacher’s Guide that is available (for free) to go along with this book, there are just so many powerful lessons that we can all learn. While this is geared towards towards middle schoolers, I used this with all four of my children (ranging in age from 4 to 13) and every one of them, I believe, had a bit of a heart change themselves as we read and learned together. Our home has been stuck for a time, too much murmuring and complaining; it is good for our children to see and for us adults, to be reminded, that God is always with us and there is always a purpose for the things that we go through.
Pieces of this story, told in such a compelling way that we see not just the story itself but all of those little details that are lying below the surface. Leprosy, so much more than just a disease, but a life of isolation, rejection. Captivity and slavery – we never come into this willingly – to be able to live it out in a way that speaks so strongly of the God we serve – it is inspiring. We all need to guard our hearts; we all need to seek after God to search our hearts and see if there be any wicked thing in us and lead us in the way we should go.
I think of Isaiah 12:2 that says, “Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my son, He is also become my salvation.
Truly God is THE heart changer.
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