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Behind the Veils of Yemen

by Audra Grace Shelby

Chosen Books, 11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55438, 2011, 238 pages, $13.99.

Reviewed by Joy Loewen, missionary with Pioneers; author, Woman to Woman, Sharing Jesus with a Muslim Friend.

Audra Shelby pulls the reader in on her adventure as a new missionary wife and mother for the first three years of her ministry among Muslim women in Yemen. For readers not acquainted with Middle Eastern culture, her graphic descriptions of the sights and sounds she encounters will be fascinating. Shelby is obviously smitten by the culture and deeply moved by the spiritual plight of the Yemeni women. I am amazed at how she dives in with full enthusiasm to learn Arabic and to visit the women.

The veils the women wore are not viewed with disdain, but rather evoke a desire to get behind them and know the women personally with the goal of sharing Christ. Indeed, Shelby doesn’t seem apprehensive of any new situation and chooses to identify with Yemeni women as much as possible. At one point, that choice costs her the loss of friendships with American and European women whose husbands do not appreciate the efforts she takes to identify with Muslim women.

Shelby is to be commended for her tender heart and desire to create bridges to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to communicate the love and truth of Jesus Christ. Whether attending her first wedding, visiting a Muslim woman’s newborn son, or witnessing death and grieving, Shelby explores, observes, and continues to learn. She enters into all the major passages of life that women in Yemen experience.

The book begins with a lengthy description of her husband’s illness and subsequent miraculous recovery that God uses to confirm Shelby’s call to Yemen. Her calling is tested through later trials, but she finds God to be her rock in times of trouble. Her honesty and transparency are touching. Any missionary woman who spends time with Muslim women will appreciate Shelby’s spiritual doubts and attraction to community.

Behind the Veils of Yemen is particularly helpful for the new missionary mother. It can also be a catalyst for Christians in the West to view veiled Muslim women through the lens of compassion. 

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EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 370-371. Copyright  © 2012 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.

 

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