Transformational Fiction–“The Next Target”

We’ve just celebrated our American Independence Day with brilliant displays of fireworks, family gatherings, and picnics galore–absolute joy in total freedom!  How easily we take those gems for granted.

Last week I read a new release by award-winning author, Nikki Arrana, The Next Target.  I don’t know much about Islam or Muslims in America, so was glad to find that this book addressed some of my misconceptions and put some of my fears in context.  This is the review I’m posting:

Austia Donatelli resumed her maiden name and changed her phone number after receiving threats from Muslim extremists.  She knows they’re not kidding–they murdered her husband.

Still, Austia’s deep-seated fear doesn’t keep her from teaching English language and life skills classes to Muslim women at a California Career Center, all in hope of quietly sharing the love of Christ—the dream ministry she and her husband, Dave, shared and nurtured.

But, when one of her students is found dead from an honor killing for her newfound faith, Austia discovers that her life and the lives of other Muslim women in the class are also at risk.  Knowing that she may well be the next target, Austia determines to find a way to help Muslims in desperate need–especially the abused wife of the local leader.

As the web tightens, Austia wishes more than ever for the comfort and strength of her husband—a “weakness” the extremists on her trail detect all too easily and use against her.

The only thing as heartbreaking for Austia as the loss of the love of her life is her loss of confidence, her inability to trust her instincts, and betrayal by someone she trusted, perhaps dared to love.

Arrana portrays an introduction to Islāmic culture through story.  Showing clearly the differences between radical and moderate Muslims, she also brings to light what Christians and Muslims fear from building a community together, and how we can reach beyond our fears to dialogue.

The Next Target is not a light-hearted read, but I learned so much and am grateful for Arrana’s explanations of Muslim customs and beliefs.  I also gained insights into sharia law, honor killings, etc..   If I was tempted to bury my head in the sand, I now know that is not an option.

The Next Target reminded me what amazing freedoms we possess in America, how easily we can lose those freedoms through “sleeping at the helm,” and how very much we who know Christ have to share with others.

I won’t forget this book.  In fact, I’ve ordered another of Arrana’s books, Through the Eyes of Christ:  How to Lead Muslims into the Kingdom of God.

I’m  concerned about the determined tolerance and apathy that placate us, that makes us easy targets for those determined to wield their power against our freedom through insidious means, as well as the conclusions we so easily jump to through fear and prejudice.  Education, prayer, courage and loving with the love of Christ are my weapons of choice in this battle against my fear of the unknown.

What about you?  What do you think?  I’d love to know.  Are there other current topics you’d like to see  explored through fiction?

Spiced tea sounds like the right choice today–but ice-cold!  Summer is hot and in full swing.  Perhaps we could enjoy it with some crisp flat bread and humus.  I’m looking for a tasty recipe if you have one!

Looking forward to seeing you here, in the garden, next week.

God’s blessings for you,

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  • Carrie says:

    HI Cathy, this sounds like a powerful story. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the helpful links. We do tend to take our freedom for granted.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Taking our freedom for granted is such an easy thing to do, Carrie. I’m guilty of doing just that daily. Nikki’s book was a powerful wake-up call for the culture we’re living in.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      God’s blessings for you!

  • Susie says:

    Hi Cathy!
    I’m going to read this one. You know, for about 20 years now, I realize that a lot of racism and prejudices are based on what we don’t know, and then fear because of that ignorance! It is not always easy to keep an open mind and to educate yourself on the things you fear, but so well worth the time. Thanks for letting us know about the books you found meaningful!
    Many Blessings!

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      You’re so welcome, Susie. I know you’ll find Nikki’s book enlightening–I surely did. It also made me realize that there are many things I take for granted each day. I’m going to try to live with my eyes more wide open.
      God bless!

  • Kathy Harris says:

    Thanks for posting a review, Cathy. The Next Target is the next book on my TBR list!

    BTW, that iced, spiced tea sounds delicious right now.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      I know you’ll enjoy “The Next Target,” Kathy–I couldn’t put it down.

      Yes, I’m ready for that iced tea, too!

      Thanks so much for stopping by. God’s blessings for you!

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