Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Children who grow up “Scared”

If you could give someone one item to learn about poverty in Africa, what would it be? What is the best way to teach about poverty and the global crises we face? What impacted you the most in learning about global poverty? I learned most about the Holocaust through visiting Mauthausen and reading Elie Wiesel’s “Night.” How do we teach about Africa’s poverty and AIDS crises? One way is to write novels …

A deep love for suffering children, especially those with AIDS and orphans …

A deep commitment and plea for those who can help to see what life in Africa is like …

And a realistic narrative of a photojournalist, whose own life crumbles, and a young African girl whose family is dying of AIDS and who herself suffers from starvation, atrocities … and these two come together, from such wildly contrasting worlds that one is driven to ponder the injustices of the world, into a message of realism and hope.


TomDavis.jpgThere is no reason why the typical suburban, computer-reading Christian can’t support a child or do something for the suffering orphans of this world.

These are the central themes of Tom Davis’ new novel, Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World
, and I recommend the book but only if you want to be disturbed, challenged, and awakened to action.


Facts — like 26,500 children dying daily in the world from preventable diseases — strike us with objective force.

Stories, fictional accounts of utter, naked realities, strike us with emotive force.

Tom Davis, on the basis of the facts, uses the second approach to put in our minds and hearts the needs of Africa. I’ve posted about Tom’s ministry — HopeChest — before, and I’m glad to post yet again about this novel. I can’t think of Tom without thinking of the words of James … pure religion before God is to care for widows and orphans.

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Carl Holmes

posted June 3, 2009 at 8:52 am

I was in Ukraine with Tom and Childrens Hope Chest in 2003. I can tell you first hand what a top notch organization he has. God is blessing them, and count me in as one of the first to read his new novel.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

Nice post, Scot. I agree with Carl — as you know, Tom is the real deal.

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Julie Gillies

posted June 3, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Hi Scott,
Scared is the best novel I’ve read in years. I actually wrote about it on my blog this week as well. I praise God that Tom is using his writing gift to help these precious children.
You are absolutely right…there is no reason for us not to reach out and help.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm

So fiction can be used as a medium to communicate facts and ideas?
I guess that means the DaVinci code wasn’t necessarily “just fiction.”

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posted June 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm

There are many, many good causes to be involved with. Given the prominence of this issue in the Bible, I think it does not receive proportionate attention in most churches. Why?
My wife and I adopted a little boy who was orphaned and is also disabled. What I was completely unprepared for is how this would affect our relationship to the church. It has driven us closer to the fringe, which is deeply ironic.

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Scot McKnight

posted June 3, 2009 at 1:23 pm

ChrisB, frankly I see no need for your cynical words on a post like this. Does anyone question that novels can use facts?

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posted June 3, 2009 at 2:52 pm

“Does anyone question that novels can use facts?”
Lots of people. Don’t assume sarcasm is always directed at you.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

ChrisB – I’m a random reader and a first-time commenter. Just wanted to say I find your second comment disingenuous – you’re leaving a cynical remark on the dude’s blog taking him to task for an assertion he made – of course the remark is directed at him. We all need to be a little more respectful instead of taking hit and run potshots that feel safe just cuz we’re relatively anonymous to one another on the web.
And I’m not sure what your real point is here – for example, the historical novel is a genre that sets fictional characters in a real time and place. Does anybody dispute the validity of what say, a Michener does in a novel like “Caribbean” or “Caravans”?

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Wes Roberts

posted June 3, 2009 at 6:55 pm

…having the deep sacred privilege of being a mentor/soul friend to Tom, I welcome your endorsement
…and thank you!
…he’s the real deal, from his personal life right on into his life-calling
…indeed, this is a significant and important read
…the novel has also taken me to places within I needed to go
…again, thank you!!!

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Ted M. Gossard

posted June 4, 2009 at 5:20 am

Thanks for sharing this, Scot. Instead of thinking what we can’t do, we should focus on what we can do. We are the haves, and so many in this world are the have-nots. In Jesus we need to have open hands to them. And especially to the children. Who seemed to hold a special place in Jesus’ thoughts.

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posted June 4, 2009 at 2:31 pm

“no reason the typical, suburban, computer-reading Christian can’t…” That description is me! I thought poverty always sounded hopelessly overwhelming until I learned suburban, computer-reading Christians have the perfect resumes for advocacy work. Small actions can sway Congress to do right by us for the developing world. Right now, calling your U.S. rep to ask them to support HR 2139 (reforming Foreign Aid) can have a huge impact on millions in extreme poverty. Bread for the World is a great Christian advocacy org for teaching you how and helping you know when to be engaged in fighting poverty.

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posted June 4, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I definitely agree that we can’t just take novels as fact. . we must use discernment.
However, this novel in particular has been used to create a space for us to truly enter into the story of a child. Yes, it might be fiction.
I read this book on my trip to Uganda last month. I wept on the plane. I spent a week in Uganda just following reading this book.
I want you to know that while much fiction is just that. . fiction. . the figment of an authors imagination. I SAW these themes and characters played out in real life. If you want to know if Adanna story is true, you can think of Imaacullee who has a 13 year old daughter because her father sold her to her uncle when she was just a child. If you want to know if Adanna’s story of being stolen from is true, you can find Pauline in the Bukedea District of Uganda and hear her story of having everything taken just moments after her father had died. If you want to know if there are pastors like this, I’d love to introduce you to the Pastor of Ogoloi Church or to the widows of the Teso region. I saw it in real life. You may not be able to hop a plane to Uganda, but I promise you that what you read it real. . in fact, it’s watered down a bit b/c the true drama of the life of a little girl like Adanna would never be read . it’d just be too hard to read.
Read the book. . if there are other issues you wonder “are these facts of fiction?” feel free to email me and I’ll let you know of our experiences in Uganda and whether we saw those things played out or not.
I think it’s a good quesiton you ask. . but with this subject matter, you don’t need to make up facts. . they are full of enough drama themselves. Tom just creates a character who can teach you herself.

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Mike M

posted June 5, 2009 at 12:13 am

Scot (#6): We love you, Brother. Gore Vidal’s whole series of historical novels from 500BC to 1945AD prove that “novels can use facts.”
As for teaching our kids about want in this world, we’ve found that experience is the best teacher. As in medical missions. Second best is serving the underserved here in the U.S. Third best, donating to charities that then do the work Jesus wants us to do: Matthew 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 `And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 `When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

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