Riley Unlikely: With Simple Childlike Faith, Amazing Things Can Happen, by Riley Banks-Snyder with Lisa Velthouse
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Although the author, who considers herself to be shy and timid by nature, and not the sort of person who desires attention, and therefore an unlikely person to be prompted by the Spirit to live a life of generosity to the people of Kenya, little could be more likely given the ironic sense of humor that God has. Neither is it ironic that such a loving soul like hers would manage to attract a future husband when she was barely a teenager, or that she would have a passion for helping children without having the ability to have children herself due to a rare disorder that involves the absence of a uterus. The author appears to be an idealistic and able young woman who had the sort of family that encouraged her spiritual entrepreneurship, and stands as a good example of the outcomes of idealism focused on the right ends that started thanks to the chance event that an uncle and aunt had become medical missionaries in Kenya during her youth and the fact that the author’s idealism was encouraged by her parents. Given such fertile ground, it is entirely likely that the author’s idealism and the benefits of her family background would bear fruit in spectacular and successful ways, and that the book would be a genuine joy to read and an example of particularly excellent literature from a young person .
The contents of this book are as delightful and straightforward as can be imagined, in that it consists of 30 short chapters that sequentially give the story of the author’s involvement in East Africa that began with a trip on a lark to visit relatives who were there as medical missionaries, and then became an effort by the author herself to benefit the people she had met there, and which gradually increased in scope to involve the building of a school, the setting up of a non-governmental organization, Generation Next, that clearly hints at the idealism of the author and others of her generation, and organized efforts to provide sanitary napkins and school supplies to young people in Kenya with the aim of providing a generation of educated Kenyans whose cultural and intellectual capital is able to help the country rise from desperate poverty. The author even details her own struggles with her health, including fainting spells and numerous medical tests. Again, it is entirely likely that a young woman struggling with her own health and possessed of a sensitive heart for the suffering of others would dedicate herself to helping and serving others, belying the title.
This is a book that is remarkably polished, and probably a great deal of the credit for that belongs with the book’s coauthor, who otherwise reminds properly invisible and allows the focus to be brought on Riley’s compelling story, which will likely draw the attention of many readers. This is the sort of book that appears likely not only to draw the support and attention of those who are the author’s age in their late teens and early twenties, and encourage them on their own humanitarian Christian efforts, but also will likely gain a great deal of attention from those who are older and whose efforts would likely be welcome for the author and her associates in serving the causes for which the author has dedicated her life. Given that the author plans on living in Kenya full time with her husband, there are likely many more stories to be found in Riley’s life, and here is hoping that she has a long and successful career of service ahead of her. This book promises that, and that is a worthwhile achievement.
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