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Sowing Beside All Waters: A Tale of the World of the Church Review by Colton Dumont

Emma Leslie
Salem Ridge Press

Sowing Beside All Waters is a story that takes place right after Roman Emperor Constantine accepts the Christian religion as the official religion of the Roman Empire. This book accurately shows that persecution by the Romans was not the only hardship the Christian church had to go through. The heroes also face Arianism, the worshiping of images, and many other departures from the faith.

Shortly after Constantine declares his faith in Christ, a Christian Roman foot soldier named Quadratus comes back to Alexandria to find both his sisters falling away from the truth. His younger sister, Placidia, has decided to depart to the desert to live a life of a hermit, abandoning her goal of becoming a nun. Dismayed by this, Quadratus turns to his other sister, Melissa, to find that she has taken to putting a statue of the goddess Venus on her mantelpiece and praying to it, thinking she is concentrating on the Virgin Mary. A day later, the Jews in the city riot. During the riot, Quadratus's mother is killed, and Placidia disappears and is presumed dead. Later, Quadratus finds himself a witness of the Council of Nicea, where Arius is excommunicated and his heresy denounced. The story then goes to Placidia, who is, after all, not dead but captured and in the hands of a Jewish slave driver. From here, Placidia really discovers the mercy and loving-kindness of God. She also interacts with the other slaves and makes a British friend by the name of Imogene. She is eventually sold to an old widow in the town of Antioch.

Then the story skips forward 30 years. Emperor Constantine has just died and been replaced by his nephew, Julian, who is a pagan. Julian reinstates the worshiping of the old gods and resumes the persecution of the church. Placidia is now free but is still in the house of the same widow, who is the mother of John Chrysostom (who later became the renowned Bishop of Constantinople). This book also features Saint Augustine as a boy.

Much later, the family is finally united. Julian is killed and replaced by a Christian emperor, and Christianity is restored in the Roman Empire.

This book can be enjoyed by anyone above the age of eleven. Even if the child reading it does not have a large vocabulary, the book has the definitions of the harder words in the margins.

Although the book moves fast and does not have very good character development, the story is definitely worth reading all the same. Your child can learn history, learn vocabulary, enjoy good literature, and become closer to Christ all by just reading this book. This is a great piece of work, and I would unquestionably buy it if it were not already in my possession.

Product review by Colton Dumont, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2008