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I Would Die For You (book) Review by Donna CamposBrent and Deanna Higgins
Revell Books, a Division of Baker Publishing Group
P.O. Box 6287
Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
The book "I Would Die For You" is written by parents, Brent and Deanna Higgins, with the inclusion of extensive excerpts from the journals of their son, BJ Higgins. It is one student's story of passion, service and faith in a soft cover offering of 224 pages, with two pages each of Contents, Preface, and Prologue. The book is divided into six sections containing three to five chapters each. Sections include: The Basics, The Passage: Peru 2004, The Challenge, The Return: Peru 2005, The Battle, and The Legacy. At the end of 20 chapters, a two page Afterward, six pages of an Instant Message conversation, two pages of Frequently Asked Questions, and two pages of Acknowledgements complete the book. The book includes writings by BJ gathered from journals, his blog, and school papers, and then additional true stories shared by other family members, church members, hospital staff, and friends. BJ's story is one of an ordinary teen maturing in his walk with God as he faces daily struggles, ordinary problems, and takes part in short term mission trips as a devoted Christian called to full time ministry.
Although not about BJ specifically, the song "I Would Die for You", written by Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe, was inspired by BJ as a prayer that all of us would become so committed to the cause of Christ. As a teen working with the sending organization, Awe Star Ministries, BJ's transformation from Christian boy to man of God through the experiences of serving as part of mission teams to Peru are revealed in this telling story of the servant hood of his life. At fifteen, just six days before his sixteenth birthday, BJ passed away after a battle with illness lasting for six weeks. He was an example of a Christian putting the cause of Christ above his own personal comfort, making a difference for the kingdom of heaven. Although not written for an educational purpose, the book is definitely written with a great deal of value for a spiritual education. There are no additional materials, although one can read more about BJ's life and the work of Awe Star Ministries and his family at prayforbj.blogspot.com, which was originally started as an effort in prayer support during his illness. The subject matter is definitely high school level, although parents may determine whether younger teenagers could comprehend the death of a teenage missionary amidst the work of God in his life.
This is an excellent book, I was drawn into it and it led me to greater thought regarding the work of Christ in my own life. My sixteen year old was unable to share her opinion, as she started the book and chose to wait to complete it; she is about to leave on her first overseas mission trip. The death of such a young man is difficult to comprehend under any circumstance, but having the opportunity to glimpse his life, his walk with God, and the moments leading up to his illness were a rare blessing in witnessing the hand of God. Even when we question God's plan, there are always reasons and parts of His plan we are blessed to see in hindsight, but this book offers a truly in depth portrait of the life of a young Christian committed to Christ. It is hard to remain teary eyed when even his family comes through the process of his entrance into heaven serving God and continuing his efforts in mission work after his death. The journal entries offer a tremendous inspiration to young authors and a great encouragement to parent-teachers for the value in journal writing. Christians in any point of their walk with God will be able to see their growth as a Christian, the hand of God in their own lives, and be reminded of God's presence in their lives when they capture their thoughts on paper. This book is an incredible testimony to a teenager's commitment to God and mission work for His kingdom. It inspires me to do more for the cause of Christ, and brought on much thought and reflection as I was looking up the verses he used right along with his story. Although it is not designed as a bible study, I will adapt it to be used as one when my daughter returns from her mission trip.
Although it was interesting to glimpse the thoughts of friends, family, church members, and mission team members, at times, the entries became overwhelming and I found myself checking twice to see who had written a particular entry. "I Would Die For You" is a very personal story and I wish that all of BJ's entries had been written in a different font or separated out somehow from all other writings. The consistent "pitches" for Awe Star Ministries almost became a commercial as I read "Awe Star teaches�" and "Awe Star prepares�" and "Awe Star equips�" a few too many times. And the FAQ's pages, outside of an explanation of who BJ's parents are, were nothing more than links to Awe Star Ministries for financial support or joining them on a mission trip. I wholeheartedly support missions work for all ages, but I wish additional reputable groups had been represented in listings for readers to gain more contacts. The only other, obvious, downside, is the necessity of dealing with death when reading this book. Thankfully, the authors do an incredible job of revealing his move heavenward as a celebratory event, although greatly missed on earth, BJ Higgins was most definitely welcomed into heaven.
I encourage every family with older teenagers to read this book, preferably together, or at least, simultaneously. Too often our teens have the opportunity to enter mission trips today with questionable motives, perhaps not taking to heart the depth of a commitment to mission work and our heavenly father. This book will bring home the struggles of a committed teenager, and the eventual sacrifice, because of his commitment. The value of a journal is also very well represented and as a homeschool book this is an incredible tool for understanding the purpose and value of a consistently kept journal. Many of us, as adults, can look back on so many times we wished we had written down portions of events, notes about experiences, eye openers from Bible studies, or simple diary entries. Make your homeschool experience part of solidifying the habit for your teenagers today, so they have no writing regrets in the future. BJ Higgins left an incredible gift for his family, and for the world, in his writing, as we are able to take a few steps in his shadow, and as his was the shadow of someone who gave his life for Christ, it is an awe inspiring position to glimpse. Read "I Would Die For You" for yourself, and then pass it on to your teenagers, or read it with them. "I Would Die For You" will grow your walk with Christ, light a fire under your feet, and inspire you to do more for the Kingdom according to God's calling in your life. We are not all called to full time vocational ministry, but this book will inspire you to work for God wherever He has placed you, and in any way that you can.