Living in a nation that is filled with hate, anger, bitterness, and fear about the Middle East and the Muslim world I was drawn to this book about an American Missionary family who travelled to Yemen to bring light and hope to a dark and hidden world. Behind the Veils of Yemen takes you behind the scenes of ground breaking, counter culture, and transformational movements in the Middle East. The author, Audra Shelby tells the story of how her heart and spiritual journey was transformed during the time leading to and during their ministry in Yemen. The story starts with Audra and Kevin as they embark on their missionary journey by joining up with a local ministry conference in the US for their evaluations. In a tragic turn of events, Audra finds that God is already at work in their lives, preparing them both for the journey that lay ahead. A majority of this book focuses on their first year in Yemen, spent in language study in the capital of Saan'a, and Audra's introduction into the Muslim culture of the women. Their lives spent cloaked in veils to the public are much different in private. Their devotion to Mohammad and his teachings seemingly unshakable, yet in any other area of life and they tremble and shake with no confidence. Getting a glimpse into the lives of these women was so powerful- and it made my heart break for some of the ways they are so lost spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. Though silent, you can hear their cries for a Redeemer, for a Abba-Father through Audra's narrative of simple, straightforward explanations of her experiences. Shelby was not trying to convince me in this book with the idea of reaching a Muslim nation for Jesus- but her stories did their own talking. This book surprised me in that it wasn't really about the transformation of the women that she encountered, but how the Holy Spirit encountered her during events and experiences in Yemen. Shelby was open and honest about her spiritual journey during this time and her willingness to allow God to not stop working in her even though she was already what most people would say an A+ christian for being a missionary (to the Muslims no less!). But Shelby was not content with remaining status quo as she attempted to share Jesus with others, but continued pursuit of her own intimacy with Christ. I loved this book for the first 2/3. After that, i felt the storyline became unfocused and moved too fast- it lost me along the way as I didn't really understand what was happening. I would have also loved to hear any resolution on the stories or people that she told in the book. I yearned for more of what she experienced, how the women of Yemen were transformed by the Gospel message, and even more background of why her and her husband chose a Muslim nation (post 9/11) on purpose. Overall, a great read that will challenge you to seek out growth in your walk with Abba God.
I received a free copy of this book in return for a review from Bethany House Publishers, but my opinions are my own.