Don Stephens, War and Grace (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2005). Pp. 288. $12.47. [Reviewed by Sarah Mowery.]
“To ra, to ra, to ra!” Our six-year-old son listens intently as I read about Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida signaling the launch of the attack on Pearl Harbor. As we finish the book, I tell him that Mitsuo Fuchida was converted to Christianity later in life and that the number of people who heard his testimony as a child of Jesus Christ far surpasses the number killed in the infamous air raid. I know this, not from the library book in my hand, but from reading Don Stephen’s War and Grace.
War stories—especially World War II stories, it seems—hold widespread appeal. Men, women, and children are drawn to the horror and heroism that characterize that tragic era. At the same time, Christian biographies are infinitely valuable to the child of God, whether old or young. War and Grace is both: a compilation of 13 biographies of men and women who either played key roles in the war while clinging to their faith in the Lord or those who were converted by the gospel after the war’s end.
War and Grace is an easy read. Each of the 13 chapters can be consumed in a sitting. The book is carefully researched. In fact, at the end of many of the chapters, Stephens notes that some of the details he shares were gleaned from personal correspondence with the subject or his family members. Stephens, a Reformed man, focuses on 12 men and one woman of Protestant—mostly Reformed or Presbyterian—persuasion. And those about whom he writes are no nominal Christians—the fruits of true conversion are evident in their lives. Stephens does not gloss over the dreadfulness of war; neither does he exploit it. The book may leave the reader wanting to know more about the individuals covered. In that case, Stephens references sources for further reading at the end of each chapter.
The foreword of the children’s book I read to our son ends this way: “If you remember this war and its cost in human lives and suffering, you will never want another war.” I like the conclusion of Stephens’ foreword better: “In a world where fear, war and terrorism are still causing human tragedies, these stories show how the grace of God will always triumph where evil seems to reign.”
War and Grace tells the tale of those who remain safe in the Shepherd’s fold despite the staggering trials that they face. It tells of those astray in the mountains of World War II, and it tells of their being found of the Good Shepherd in POW camps in Japan and New Zealand, along the River Kwai, and on the scaffold at Nuremburg. Their stories show forth His praise.