Book Review: Another Valley, Another Victory

Another Valley, Another Victory, by Valetta Steel Crumley with Ed Erny

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press/One Mission in exchange for an honest review.]

As the second book [1] I have read from this series about the One Mission Society (formerly Oriental Mission Society), there are some definite comments that can be made about the series so far, with the expectation of reading more books in the series (there are at least half a dozen so far) to comment on. As someone who is not a Methodist, nor who comes from a Methodist background, a lot of the congregational politics in this book are a bit unfamiliar, and I am not familiar with the institutions that Mrs. Steel-Crumley and her late husband Henry served in). That said, the book itself and the rest of its series are designed to encourage greater involvement in missionary activities among Christians, and as someone who has dramatically served as a missionary abroad myself [2], and that is an effort that I can understand in terms of my own denominational background, which shares its own characteristic approach to leading and ministry that are not too dissimilar from that of the United Methodists discussed in this book. It should be said at the outset, though, that those expecting this book to be mostly about missionary service are going to be a bit disappointed, because the author discusses her own personal life in a moving and eloquent way that tugs at the heartstrings and that exposes the depth of her own sorrows [3].

In terms of its contents, this book is a short autobiography with some major twists and turns and an abrupt but very lengthy conclusion. After discussing the missionary focus of the author after the death of her husband (a story told in what sounds like it would be a fascinating book to read: Mission Accomplished Under Sentence Of Death: The Life Of Henry Steel), the author mentions a brutal rape and its aftermath that led to the rapist seeking redemption while on death row for his many crimes, which included a murder, and in which a relative of the author wrote a sad poem. Strikingly enough, the author does not focus much time on the victories in the story, including a remarriage after many years as a widow, and focuses instead in the lengthy conclusion on her busy missionary work and other missionaries whose stories she happily tells, many of which are full of a great deal of drama and peril. Being a missionary, especially in more remote areas of countries where the influence of Christianity has been little felt, can be an immensely perilous task, especially because Christianity demands a change of behavior and often a change in culture that leads to hostility from those who are set in their ways, even if those ways are evil.

Where this book particularly shines is in showing in painful honesty a woman whose life was filled with loss, but also filled with the ability to turn that loss into concern for others, both in this life and regarding spiritual and eternal matters as well. Although much of her missionary language is jargon from a group she has spent decades learning with, jargon that is rather unfamiliar to those who stand outside of that world, her story shines as an example of a woman who has not left without resources or encouragement in her sorrows. She writes about the painful self-recrimination that happens after trauma, the desire to be free of painful personal backgrounds, the generational patterns of wandering and alienation that often exist in families. Yet her tragedies become the fuel for victories, because she uses her loss to propel her into service of others, and into recognition of the ways that suffering is universal in a fallen world so often separated from God by sin and deception. Ultimately, this book is like the frequent quotation of a long-dead missionary more familiar to me, who said, “I have read the end, and we win.” And so we do.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/09/20/book-review-no-reserves-no-retreats-no-regrets/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/he-waited-for-the-city/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/so-youre-a-missionary-then/

[3] See, for example, the following quotes:

“While I was going through my Gethsemane, Henry was going through his. But at times, it seemed as though we were traveling different roads. Often, suffering creates special ties between husbands and wives, and I am sure that Danny’s did for us, though not in the way one might suppose. Henry had grown up without a mother and estranged from his father; he found it difficult to bare his heart to anyone, even to his wife.

In the darkest moments of his life, he sometimes seemed imprisoned in a shell of silence. We usually went to the Word, prayed, and agonized separately. Often the first inkling I had of what was going through Henry’s mind came when I typed his sermon notes. The inner turmoil, which he found so difficult to share with any individual, he somehow found the freedom to speak of when he stood in the pulpit (30-31).”

“Here was a man, as it were, standing on the verge of the grave yet making plans and dreaming dreams, devising schemes for a future that he would never see. It was irrational, a kind of a madness. One afternoon, while Henry dozed, I strolled up and down the hospital corridors, passing ward after ward of patients, all terminally ill, and Henry was among them. Yes, there was my husband. He too was numbered among the living dead. I began to weep. Tears kept flowing (52).”

“During this time, God helped me find acceptance in another problem area—singleness. With Henry gone, I had joined that swelling segment of society that we have branded “singles.” We lump together in this category those who seem to be life’s misfits—individuals who have never landed a mate, those whose marriages have come apart, as well as widows and widowers who have been “reduced” to single status by the intervention of premature and untimely death of spouses. The penalty for being single meant exclusion from family-oriented events, a dearth of adult companionship, and long, lonely evenings made even lonelier for want of intimate conversation with a mate (68).”

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Book Review: Another Valley, Another Victory

  1. Nathan,
    Thank you for the extensive review of “Another Valley, Another Victory.”
    Your work is so consistent, we think of you as almost an honorary member of our editorial staff. We appreciate your relentless pursuit of accuracy.
    Cordially,
    Jeremiah

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