Every now and again a book comes along that shakes you to your core. I just read one--that by the title should have been a light read, but was anything but. The most important quote from the book is this: When the Holy Spirit leaves, all you have left is religion. Coffee, Tea, and Holy Water is a memoir of sorts, a book of first person research to find the pulse of the church in the world. Amanda Hudson decided to see first-hand how worship is accomplished in various parts of the world, and where the gospel is reaching to the most hungry.
Her trip begins in Brazil, moves to Wales, Tanzania, China, and finally Honduras. The Latin American countries were the most fertile soil for hearing the gospel, receiving it, and growing. While touring these areas with local missionaries, Amanda gets a view of how people live and how much they need by American Standards. The thing is, American standards are not the standards by which the people live. In China, the people are told where to live, what job they will do, whom they will marry, how many children they will have, and where and how long they will go to school. They don't see their lives as captive to the government, it's just the way things are.
In Brazil, spiritism is still very prominent and sometimes gets mixed in with their worship of God. Because it has been a part of their whole lives, it's hard to give up.
In Africa, native people are devoted enough to their worship that nothing disturbs them--not even a dust storm blowing through the church. The problem here is that when well-meaning people throw money at an issue without considering the ramifications--with a bit of startup money, a man can start a mosquito net factory that employs several native people and funnels money back into the local economy. When a celebrity donates $100,000 for mosquito nets, the factory closes down, people lose their employment and when the mosquito nets wear out, there are none to replace them because the factory is no longer in operation. Money is not always the answer to the issue at hand.
In Honduras, the biggest need is clean drinking water. In each of the locations, Amber aided the local missionaries with health clinics, but the saddest part is the number of children with parasites because of the lack of pure water. My daughter went to Honduras last year as part of a medical missions trip (her organization facilitates trips for medical students in order to encourage more cross-cultural medicine as a choice for the students). She met a family who had a child in the hospital with a mass on her brain stem. The parents wanted the girl to have surgery to remove the mass, but the neuro-surgeon wasn't sure he could safely operate. The parents prevailed in their request and when the surgeon got in, they found that the mass on the girl's brain stem was a parasite that if not removed would kill the girl. They got it without any damage to the girl's brain and a prognosis for a full, happy life--at least as full and happy as the girl could have.
So what do I bring away from Amanda's book? Americans have put God in a box and thrown away the key not realizing that God refuses to live there, but He does allow US to live there. We have expelled the Holy Spirit from our worship and all we have left is religion. We have ceased to be hungry for the Word of God to take root in us and grow us into usable vessels. We need to be shaken up, not stirred.
My thanks to Abingdon Press for allowing me to read and review this book. I pray that everyone who reads this book becomes shaken to his/her very foundation.