The Bible or the Axe: A Review

The following review is made possible by the hard work of Stacy Harp at Mind and Media.

Your mind trapped in a world that ends at the United States borders? Living a life of relative comfort and ease? William O. Levi’s The Bible or the Axe might be just the wake-up call the average Christian in America may need.

The Bible or the Axe recounts Levi’s early life journey, which began with a large, tightly-knit, strongly-rooted Messianic Jewish family in east Africa before he endured persecution at the hands of Sudan’s Islamic regime in the 1980s and ultimately escaped to the United States. He later founded Operation Nehemiah, a mission still actively helping the Christian community in Sudan rebuild its broken walls.

Levi tells his story with candor and confidence. Reading the book is the visual equivalent of listening to a capable storyteller recount his experiences on the foreign mission field – everyday tales of trust through trials intertwined with accounts of the providential, even the miraculous.

The young man’s baptism by his warm but revered Grandfather forms the crystallizing moment of truth – leading Levi from contemplation to action – that gives the autobiography its poignant title. The piercing interrogation by Levi’s grandfather grows larger than life in the turbulent context of Sudanese persecution: “When your enemy comes to destroy you, which weapon will you choose?” the old preacher asks.

Imprisonment, physical torture, discrimination, harassment, and ostracism lingered along Levi’s path, compelling the determined Christian to forge a path away from violence and toward America. Ending up in New Jersey of all places, he was grateful to have escaped the difficulties of the Old World, but his eyes were not set on personal comfort or material prosperity. Instead he found a new Christian community on which he made his own indelible mark.

The plight of Levi’s people, the Christians of Sudan, is the burden you feel him carrying from page to page, pulling you toward each new chapter with expectation of what obstacle and what Divine intervention Levi will face next.

The Bible or the Axe is more than educational and inspiring, though it is both of those as well. For the American Christian, peruse it once and it will broaden your horizon. Review it prayerfully, and it will help to deepen your spiritual walk. Levi’s burden will be your burden.

Whether or not you ultimately believe supporting Operation Nehemiah is something you ought to do, reading this book should prompt a careful examination of your own heart and impel a cry of gratitude for God’s intervention in your own life through the adversities and trials that are your lot to share.

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