Date read: 02.04.2017. How strongly I recommend it: 8/10.
This book appeals to a general Christian audience. Though the cover bothers me (I find the image of the boy slightly disconnected to the renditions that the author paints of Chinese street children), the content is quite remarkable and inspiring. This book challenges the reader to see God alive and at work in the world around him, delighting to use the most modest child as a mouthpiece of divine revelation.
The content is out of the world—literally! Having lived in Southwest China for 15 years, it was incredible to read the details of a story that happened a few hundred kilometers from my second home. The visions that these young Chinese children had were remarkable and inspiring. Their glimpse of the realm beyond our own was not only for them but for us today. The author does well to both adequately describe the visions that the children saw as well as speak to the reader about what God is saying today.
Even though this story took place many decades ago in a world very different from our world today, I found the message very clear and relevant to the present. Recollections of the children’s visions were clearly stated. But the author takes the message one step further by describing how the spiritual world is all about us even now. As a missionary and first hand witness to all that God did in and through his ministry, he is not quick to take any glory. Indeed, many times he explains how he simply sat back and watched what God was doing in his midst, not wanting to disrupt the visions that God was giving to the young children in his care. Because he was an observer to all that God was doing he was able to clearly disseminate the message of God, bringing clarity to the storyline.
As this is not a work of creative writing, there is no plot per se. Still the author is able to construct the narrative in a well-laid out, creative way. The flow of the book (which I mention in the next section) was skillfully orchestrated. The retelling of a story like this could easily become murky in its style. This is not the case with Visions Beyond the Veil.
I find the rhythmic flow of this book well-maintained, effortless and well-constructed. Each chapter reminds the reader that he is returning to his true home; that the culminating pinnacle of the Christian traveler is the Heavenly Kingdom he is pining for. The author says it well: “It may be that as the journey leads over difficult pathways and exhausting mountains, the pilgrim may become so wearied with his heavy burdens that he can scarcely hear the singing of the birds, sense refreshment from the wayside flowers, or find any great happiness in the fellowship of his fellow pilgrims. But it will not be so at the end of the way.” The author often pens the narrative in poetic form. Other times his choice of words feel Biblical as he scribes the visions and messages of the children he observes seeing heaven.
After reading about the visions that these young children had, one might think that God is absolutely reckless in His revelation to adolescent hearts and minds! These were not your typical Sunday school topics. “They also saw hell, the misery of the lost, demons, the great tribulation, and the devil himself… the binding of the antichrist, the devil cast out of heaven, the great supper of God, and birds eating flesh of kings and captains of the earth.” I find it exceptional that God chose to use beggars and street children as His mouthpiece to Christian missionaries in China. Does not the cross-cultural missional worker have ample theological and spiritual training under his belt? Indeed, most do. But that is not enough. The Holy Spirit chooses to use the unassuming to display deeper revelations of His glory—even to those who give their lives for the sake of the Gospel. This is the impact left on my heart: that there is much more revelation to be had from God if only I would pause and linger to hear.
10 POINT RATING
I give Visions Beyond the Veil an 8/10.