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Hearts and Hands, Volume 4: Chronicles of the Awakening Church Review by Camilla Anderson

Mindy and Brandon Withrow
Christian Focus Publications
Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire
IV 20 1TW
Scotland, U.K. - UK Distributor - US Distributor

This book is Volume 4 in a four-volume set chronicling church history from its very beginnings through the 1800s missions movement. Subtitled "History Lives," these historical books intermingle historical essays with fictionalized historical biographical accounts of key people in church history to bring history to life for young readers (ages 9-14). Volume 4, Hearts and Hands, covers the period from AD 1700 to 1860, highlighting the gifted preachers and politicians who spread revival, abolished slavery, and forged into new mission fields in China, India, and Africa. Included are stories about great historical figures such as John Wesley, William Wilberforce, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and David Livingstone.

In addition to the 11 short biographical features in this book, there is a detailed timeline of key events and several short chapters providing deeper insights into key issues specific to this period--issues such as the development of church music, social reform, revolutions and rebellions, the rise of Protestant denominations, and more. At the end of the book is a chapter that summarizes several more important figures in this period of church history.

And now the line I have written for each book in this series: These books are awesome! Although they are targeted for ages 9-14, I don't know of a single adult who would not be educated, moved, and challenged by these incredible stories. Authors Mindy and Brandon Withrow are obviously some of the finest professional historians. Their passion, attention to truth and detail, and extensive research shows from the first page to the last. Knowing that much of the information was based on the actual journals and letters of those involved, I felt confident that I was not reading false information or stories that were based on assumptions or overly fictionalized.

But best of all, Mindy and Brandon are fantastic writers. This is writing at its finest. The descriptive writing is captivating and leaps off the page like a surround-sound theater. The character descriptions and personalities are painted vividly and established solidly. I became a part of Johann Sebastian Bach's family, sitting to eat right at his table with him. I wanted to jump in and join the cause of the abolitionists and go to work for William Wilberforce! I fought back tears as Fidelia Fiske walked through the dusty streets of Persia, saying "Give me your daughters," convincing families to let her educate their young daughters instead of abandoning them or selling them into slavery. These stories held me spellbound and inspired me to earnestly seek God's will and purpose for my life so that I, too, could make a difference.

Hearts and Hands and the other three books in the series are a blessing and an inspiration, and that is an understatement. You will be encouraged by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You will be inspired by the commitment, faith, and strength of these great Christian men and women. And you will walk away with a tender heart, longing to use your hands for God's work. These books are staying in our home to be read often: I won't even loan them out! I'll tell others where to buy their own! Hint: Visit the website, and soon!

Product review by Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2008