Book review: Dead Women Walking by Jennifer Su (Monarch Books, 2008)
Dead Women Walking is about the startling stories of three women whose lives are plagued with addiction, idol worship and abuse. It is about the work of Elisabeth Weinmann, a missionary working among working-class Taiwanese, where less than 0.5% of them are Christians. It is about God’s grace and love touching people whose lives are entangled by broken relationships and damaged emotions.
The stories in Dead Women Walking will draw you to the wounded lives of some vulnerable women. Page after page you find tragic tales that will break your heart. You will discover the destructive works of evil spirits as people seek spiritual release from their desperate situations through idol worship. Dead Women Walking is a book for those who have a passion to see authentic Christianity at work in real life situations – domestic violence, alcoholism, poverty, racial and class discrimination, and even demon possession.
There are amazing answers of prayers, where people are set free from past hurts and demonic influences. The power of God is at work in the most hopeless situations. But ultimately it is the unconditional love, perseverance, and sacrifice of Christians like Elisabeth Weinmann that bring lasting triumphs over the forces of evil.
Here are some reflections after reading the book. First, this book helps us to see the needs of the neglected people of Taiwan’s working class, which consist of about two-thirds of the country’s population. It calls the church to bring a message of hope to those living in darkness and injustice. It invites the church to go to places where only authentic Christian love and genuine commitment can bring break-through.
Second, the book highlights the lack of mission activities among those at the lower end of the socioeconomic strata. Apparently often working-class people in Taiwan think that the church is for middle-class people only. Here Jesus’ example of living among the common people would serve as a challenge for us.
Finally, the book helps us to gain a better perspective on what idolatry looks like. Idol worship is not just about burning incense to a wooden object. It has to do with the person’s orientation of life and allegiance to a deity. The book shows that converts often worship idols intermittently in the first years of their Christian life. It can take a long time before they give their total allegiance to Jesus and completely renounce their former gods. This calls for patience and perseverance on the part of those who journey with them.
I commend Dead Women Walking to those who have a passion for the gospel to be proclaimed and embodied in real life – just as what we see in the life of Jesus in the four Gospels. Read Death Women Walking with boldness, and get ready for entering into their wounded lives and see how the God of all flesh can do what seems to be impossible for human.
(This is an slightly edited version of a book review originally published by Sight Magazine, which can be found here.)