Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
With the months of rain that we’ve been having, I have been really excited to have the opportunity to review several books lately, including Venturing with God in Congo by Darrell Champlin and published by Conjurske Publications.
This is a chapter book with a lot of big words in it, so we decided to read it together as a family every night before bed. We haven’t finished it yet, but we’re getting there!
One of the wonderful parts about homeschooling is that I have been able to focus our studies each year on a different missionary. I love learning about missionaries from the past and present, who are giving up their comforts in order to share the Gospel. We have learned about some pretty amazing people, and this book has introduced us to another wonderful missionary family–the Champlins.
About the Book
Darrell, Louise (a former missionary kid herself to the Belgian Congo), and their four children–David, Jonathan, Deborah, and Ethan–“ventured with God to the Congo” back in the 1950s and 1960s and raised four children in this primitive part of the world. This exciting book shares the stories of their adventures with witch doctors, demon-possessed men, superstition, snakes, hippos, leopards, wild boar, monkeys, elephants, and many more.
The Champlins even ventured further into the Congo into places where people thought God would never show up. They fought against the superstition of women being barren should they worship the one true God to guards who blocked their path to get to the villages. But God always made a way and kept them safe.
When the door to the Congo closed, the family continued to serve God in Suriname, South America, and still serves there with their three sons and their families. This is truly a legacy that is glorifying God through several generations of faithful believers!
What We Thought of the Book
I have been pleasantly surprised to have my children’s undivided attention while we’ve been reading this book. I didn’t think they would listen at first because there are a lot of big words and definitely a lot of African terms that are hard to pronounce (even though many of them include a footnote to help with pronunciation). But each night, my children have faithfully gathered around to find out what happened next to this missionary family.
“This book is very exciting and one of my favorite books,” said Hannah, age 11. “I especially liked it when they made the witch doctors mad.”
Ephraim, age 9, was quick to add, “I think it’s actually really cool. It’s exciting, and you never know what’s going to happen next! And you learn about a lot of different animal species!”
And even Harmony, age 6, seems to like it, declaring, “I like the part when they had a baby. It’s good.”
I have enjoyed it, too, learning a lot about a new culture and some new words that I am sure I’m not pronouncing correctly! The stories are compelling and really demonstrate how God protected this family from Satan’s attacks. And it is well-structured, with the chapters flowing easily from one to the other.
Now, for the critical part. As an editor, I am sure that there are things that stick out to me way more than they would to the average person. And since I have been trained to have a critical eye, I can’t help but notice when grammar is off or paragraphs do not flow easily together. All that to say, I think that Venturing with God in the Congo could have benefited from the help of a line editor. The number of grammatical errors in this book are very distracting to me as I try to read it to my children. But the story is strong, so the average reader would most likely be able to overlook those errors.
Also, I wish that this book had more pictures. There are a few in the middle of the book, but I don’t think there are nearly enough to show my children what it was like to live in the Congo during that time. This book is promoted as being for the whole family, and I think that more pictures would help sell it as that. It took a while to get my six-year-old interested in the book, but she would have loved it more if there had been more pictures to grab her attention.
The book itself has a captivating cover, which makes you want to take it off the shelf. It is also very sturdy, and I definitely prefer this hard copy instead of a soft cover. The spine holds everything together well, which is good because my kids can be kind of rough on books. So, Conjurske Publications definitely knows how to make an appealing, durable product!
Warnings & Recommendations
I can’t completely promote this product to all families, simply because there are some stories and subjects that may scare young children or be inappropriate for younger audiences. My kids do pretty well, but I could definitely tell my six-year-old was getting a little nervous during the snake stories. And she had a lot of questions to be answered to reassure her that the witch doctors wouldn’t get her! So, if you have an overly sensitive child, I would caution you to read it first and maybe just leave those sections out when reading together.
However, I do think that families can benefit from this missionary’s experiences and life in the deep jungles of Africa. There have been a lot of wonderful discussions with my children about why people are called to go to such places and how we can be missionaries even here in our own neighborhood.
Overall, I am happy that we have been able to review this book together as a family, and I think my oldest is especially excited to take this book and re-read it for herself!