this book made me cry

I used to think that “good moms” played in the pool with their kids instead of reading books in a chair. This summer I’m all about a little half-and-half action (okay, 40 pool/60 chair).

I just finished a book that made my eyes water multiple times. On a few occasions, tears actually slid down my cheeks, and I was biting my lip and trying to keep my facial expression pool-neutral. But that’s hard when you’re reading about little kiddos not getting enough to eat or being forced into sex trafficking.

I can’t get enough of books like Zealous Love. (It doesn’t hurt that there’s a globe on the cover.) I have a sweet friend at Zondervan who often hooks me up with books I love, and she’s generously offered to give a copy to SIX lucky blog readers today. I know!!

As I mentioned the other day, the book is divided up into eight sections, each describing a desperate global crisis, but the cool thing? The book isn’t all hopeless, doomsday, and guilt-trippy. It’sĀ  just stories of real people who are hurting and real people who are helping and real, practical solutions for how you and I can get involved.

My cup of tea.

God has wired me with a zeal for this kind of thing, and I know so many of you share my passion. I’d love to keep chatting and chatting (and helping and helping) with all of you.

“One of the best ways to begin moving forward,” Mike and Danae Yankoski (the authors) say, “is connecting with others who are passionate about the same issue as you. We need each other. Start the conversation. Encourage one another. Discover together. Dig in, do the research, ask the hard questions, examine your life, and surrender yourself to the leading of our good and gracious God.”

At the end of the book, the authors close with these words:

Many of us need to reconsider our lifestyles in order to better “love others as we would want to be loved.” If we truly heed Jesus’ call to abandon ourselves and follow hard after him, something other than the need for self-preservation will begin to take root and flourish in our hearts. But the resultant rhythms of selflessness and love for our neighbors will take on different forms for all of us because we are all uniquely created and have been given different responsibilities in this world.

Which one of these areas most strikes a chord with you?

Human Trafficking, Unclean Water, Refugees, Hunger, Lack of Education, Creation Degradation, HIV and AIDS, Economic Inequality.

Leave a comment telling me which one (and why, if you’d like), and you’ll be entered to win one of SIX copies of Zealous Love. Share this on Facebook or Twitter, and you can enter twice. (U.S. addresses only, contest ends at noon Friday)

I’m so excited to hear which issues God has laid on your heart!

68 thoughts on “this book made me cry

  1. Anna Kia

    Lack of education, since I’m a fifth grade teacher. I dream about doing something about it for real. šŸ™‚ We’ll keep praying and see where God takes our family.

  2. Julie Clark

    Doma fights zealously against Human Trafficking BECAUSE the women we work with and house have had such trauma and pain & injustice happen to them at such a young age– sometimes the age of my 3 children (2,3,5)– that I can’t help but passionately fight to empower them to live as fully restored, fully healed women of grace. Their courage and wisdom is inspiring. Check out my blog: for more info on what doma is doing to restore survivors of sex trafficking.

  3. Randa Kinn

    Hunger! I think it is just something that God had laid on my heart, but also I read World Vision’s publications often and how they describe the children….crying,lethargic, swollen bellies. It breaks my heart…I have a hard enough time listening to my child whine at me because I have denied him a SNACK!

  4. Liz

    I would have to choose lack of education. From basic reading, writing, and arithmetic to pregnancy and newborn care to healthy nutrition for all, proper education would make a world of difference!

  5. Rachel

    Due to my own life circumstances, I would say that my top three are: human trafficking, unclean water, and lack of education.

  6. Elizabeth

    I get really passionate about lack of education, because I think access to it can affect all the others on the list. But the thought of people going hungry is unfathomable to me, and I know there are people right here in Tulsa, going hungry everyday.

  7. Danielle

    Oh my word, how is it possible to narrow it down to one? They are so interrelated, it seems like solutions have to be multi-faceted. Maybe I have a heart that is just burdened by too many things, and is unable to focus on just one. I guess I can order them by the things that break my heart most: human trafficking, refugees, HIV and AIDS, unclean water, hunger, lack of education, economic inequality, creation degradation. Ugh, but even that is not sufficient to express that my heart aches for this broken world to be redeemed already!

  8. Susan J

    I’ve been interested in this since you mentioned it. They are all important, but human trafficking resonates with me the most. I’ve recently read a book in relation to this and it hurts my heart.

  9. Amanda

    I just got back from rural Honduras and I’m not sure which one to choose! Water, I think. Because it is basic. I saw children and women walking each day to get to potable water sources to fill 30 gallon plastic jugs for their families. The children’s home where we stayed had a well, but our American tummies still used bottled water. Education is so important to the families there, but you must be dedicated to travel long distances on foot to get past elementary school, and many can’t go at all because they can’t afford to buy a uniform–not even just one.

  10. MainlineMom aka Sarah

    This sounds like EXACTLY the kind of book I would love! I’m in a Life Group focused on adoption, orphan care and compassionate living and we just finished reading the Hole In Our Gospel which was good but pretty guilt inducing. I need more ways to help! I think about this daily!

  11. Sabrina Reinhart

    Gee, I care about all of these issues – but if I have to choose my #1 heartbreaker is human trafficking followed closely by refugees.
    so excited about this book. If I don’t win I’m buying it anyway so I can’t wait to read it!
    Thanks Marla,

  12. Anna

    Golly… ALL. If I have to choose one i will choose either economic inequality – I work in thousands of communities that don’t have enough to eat for significant parts of the year or Human trafficking – it just makes my blood boil.

  13. Sharon Meekins

    Hi Marla,

    I ordered the book the day you blogged about it! šŸ™‚ Anyway, unclean water becuase of witnessing the Cholera epidemic in Haiti. I thank God for the tremendous effort in providing clean water for the Haitian people through Samaritan’s Purse and the other organizations serving in Haiti.

    Looking forward to reading the book.

  14. mary nowlan

    Marla, if you have time, see my related note on my page…born from the thoughts this stirred this morning. Love you.

  15. Cathy

    If I have to choose one, then I think economic inequality because it is the basis for so many of these other problems. If people had money to feed their families, they wouldn’t face the desperation that causes some of these other issues.

  16. Carrie Hester

    Hands down…human trafficking
    I cannot imagine not having control over my own body. I simply cannot fathom someone using me/my body for their own gain or sick pleasure.

  17. Danielle

    Human trafficking and lack of an education for me! Mostly because I have two daughters and can’t imagine their lives as slaves….and my heart breaks for those little children who never really get to be kids who are loved and cared for! Education is also a huge thing for me since I am a teacher and truly believe that education is one of the ways so many of these children would have so many more open doors!

  18. Jen Hanson

    Man, that one is hard to narrow down. Unclean Water, Hunger and HIV/AIDS are the ones that stand out to me the most partly because those seem (to me) the simplest to counteract and it frustrates me that more isn’t being done (I include my own actions or lack there of in that statement). Although I feel like those three fit under the category of “Economic Inequality” – which is the ONE I would pick it I had to choose just one, because it seems to touch all of the issues previously mentioned. However, Economic Inequality is harder to combat often times because of corrupt governments/leadership and cultural barriers.

    I chose the four I did because I’ve seen these things face-to-face, so they strike a louder cord with me. Having been to Uganda twice, I’ve seen the hungry faces, I’ve seen the dirty drinking water being bottled up and sold on the streets, I’ve seen the shacks people live in and I’ve befriended children and teenagers who have lost their parents to AIDS. Once you’ve seen that, it’s hard not to think about it every time you toss a half-empty glass of water down the drain, or don’t empty your plate or take for granted the overwhelming material wealth you have in comparison with much of the world.

  19. Cory Z

    Hunger is the one for me. It is the basis of health and of human growth. We here in the States do not understand the value of food because it is everywhere but in other parts of the world a crust of bread is a great treat to a little one. I would love to see all peoples of all areas of the world be able to grow and produce their own food to some extent which not only brings value to themselves but also to their community. I understand that some would need to supplement their food production but how I would love to see every people group have their own food source(s).

  20. Kandi

    Human Trafficking…not that the others don’t also. I don’t think it is any accident that I had never read Uncle Tom’s Cabin before…a classic!…and for some reason, downloaded it to my kindle a few weeks ago and became mesmerized by it over the weekend. The issue of slavery in our country and the role Christians played by participating in it by NOT working to ending it is as applicable today in many ways as it was in the pre-Civil War days. It struck me as hard as if someone was slapping me in the face.

  21. lauren johnson

    Wow! It’s hard to choose just one issue because they are all such HUGE issues, but I think human trafficking is so horrible! I mean it would take a lot of deliverance to get over that. Just think about how much sexual sin outside of marriage plays on people’s hearts. I can’t begin to imagine the kind of baggage human trafficking would cause. I would love to read this book because I feel the Lord tugging on mine and my family’s heart to do more in ways we can. We want not only to give money but give our of time and be involved. I still have a 1 year old so sometimes I feel limited on what we can do, however I feel heart tugs to be active as a family so I would love this book! Lines right up to what my family has been feeling on our hearts!

  22. Stephanie

    They all break my heart. But human trafficking breaks my heart the most. It is usually young children that are being trafficked and they are so innocent and don’t deserve to be treated like they are worthless.

  23. Liz

    Well I have a problem with all of course, but human trafficking for sure. I also have a hard time with HIV/AIDS for a number of reasons, but especially all the babies and children born to this disease.

  24. douglas

    I am not at a US address, but wanted to stop by and encourage you. Thanks for sharing about this book. I appreciate that you’re sharing your heart and passion with your readers. And that you are able to be a voice for the voiceless.
    and I agree with Mary Nowlan that economic inequality lies at the heart of all the other issues. riches mean nothing if there are others without.

  25. Mandy

    Tough to pick one, but I’m going to go with economic inequality because I agree with Mary Nowlan that most of the other issues are rooted in this one.

  26. Claudia Porpiglia

    All of these issues strike a chord with me but my view of economic inequality has been greatly shaken over the last several years. God has really opened my eyes to the fact that He intended for His children to provide for the poor and needy, not the government. This has been a very difficult revelation and yet this one issue would have an impact on may others if it could be brought into proper perspective and order.

  27. Robin O'Bryant

    Human trafficking. The exploitation of the innocent makes my blood boil and my stomach turn. I give to missionaries who work in Thailand primarily with children who have been rescued from this. But I want to do more.

  28. Melissa

    If I were to choose one I would say human trafficking. My heart breaks for all of the victims of human trafficking that have a bright future and so much of that is taken from them emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I am so thankful for groups like the CATCH program in Columbus helping women find themselves again and get help instead of sending them to jail. I would have to say a second topic woudl be hunger. I have been trying to explain to my children that we should be so thankful for our food because there are so many children that go hungry. I wish I knew something that I could do to help besides just being grateful for what we have.

  29. mary nowlan

    Economic Inequality lies at the heart of all the other issues. One issue does not break my heart more than the other.They all rip my heart.
    But I choose this one because poverty lies at the root of all the other problems and it is up to the rich to give to the poor to help break those cycles created by lack of resources.

  30. Shannon Wilson

    Lack of education is the root of many of these issues. The governments in other countries are okay with this because uneducated people means people with no voice and little ability to change things in their countries, leaving the same people in power year after year.

  31. cyndee

    It is so hard not to feel overwhelmed with all the hurt in the world! I am becoming more and more aware of human trafficking – mostly from you. It came up again at our Fourth of July picnic. Our police officer friend was telling us how bad it is in Philadelphia-right over the bridge!! Also, I have become painfully aware of the plight of the orphans, particularly in Ethiopia where my daughter and son-in-law are adopting and Russia where their closest friends got their son. But I think the thing that is on my heart the most recently is economic disparity. I’ve been reading ‘The Hole in our Gospel’ lately. I am just sick of my spoiled American self and my so-called needs! Trying to be more generous, more pro-active and more like Jesus. Thanks for the encouragement, Marla! šŸ™‚

  32. Lisa

    Oh I cannot pick just one. They all deserve advocacy and awareness. If I have to pick, I would have to say lack of education and hunger. I can’t stand the thought of hungry kids. Or the thought of not having access to a good education to make them feel valued and to help escape the cycle of poverty. Then I think about how much I take for granted as I live my “easy” life with a good college education and not thinking twice about the food I am able to feed my kids whenever they ask…

  33. kendal

    well….i teach 7th grade social studies in NC, and that means i cover all of africa and asia with 12-year-olds. and i taught them about these problems. and they couldn’t believe it. i would love to read this book – to gain yet another perspective on these issues. so i can share. so i can perhaps touch the hearts of the future generation.

  34. Cathy Thompson

    Ever since I was a little girl and heard the story of Amy Carmichael (a missionary who had prayed for blue eyes as a child, rather than her brown ones), I had been burdened about human trafficking. Of course, I’m also burdened about the other world issues and want those needs addressed, but you said we had to pick one and so I am.

    Being from the Midwest, I always thought it was something that happened in other countries or at least on the East or West coast. Now, I understand that traffickers are using the intersection of I-75 and I-80 (in Toledo, OH, my hometown), along with the proximity to the Canadian border to further their evil deeds and that makes me even more angry.

    It shouldn’t, though. I should have been just as angry when it was all of the other places in the world. I want my heart to change even more and maybe that’s why I need this book.

  35. Rebecca

    Although all of them are critical and hurt my heart, the thing that gets me the most is human trafficking. It breaks my heart. I know that sexual abuse goes on every day (and it is devastatingly awful), but to be sold into the human trafficking sex trade is absolutely horrific.

    I would love to win a copy of this book–I want to have a zealous love!


  36. Brooke

    I’m also having trouble picking just one, so I’m narrowing it down to 3….human trafficking, hunger and lack of education, with education taking a narrow lead. As a (former?) teacher who will likely always have a teacher’s heart no matter what else I’m doing, it breaks my heart to see children become the victims of a broken education system — a system often designed for them to fail, especially in inner cities or other low-income areas. But in being in these environments, I’ve also seen a lot of hunger and children being abused or neglected or used. Looking at children in your own neighborhood who aren’t getting enough food, who aren’t being cared for, and who are generally not valued is enough to make you want to scoop all of them up and never let them go.

  37. Sharon W

    If I had to choose one, I’d say unclean water. Our church started sending teams a few years ago to drill wells in other countries. Watching the videos of what the water looked like before (beyond filthy) and watching the community celebrate when the clean water comes pouring out of the pump always makes me tear up. I drink lots of water and cannot imagine taking even one sip of the water that people have to use daily in other countries.

  38. ellen

    Also, hard to pick one but Human Trafficking is a big one for me — it is prevelent every where – Toldedo a big hub for this from what I understand. I agree the bottom line to all of this is Love — God is love — Joyce Meyer has a great book about that Love also – again a ‘simple’ solution to many large problems.

  39. beth lehman

    Because of your blog (and SortaCrunchy’s), I have become more aware of human trafficking. The other day on NPR there was a story about tomato farms in FL where immigrants are being used as slaves. This boggles my mind. I don’t know how God is planning to use me and the information I have learned… I know he will…

  40. Kayla

    Unclean water is a big one for me. has a video that talks about young girls hiking for hours every day just to collect bacteria filled water. If a well can be dug in their village it improves health and frees the girls to spend time on their education.

  41. Kelly Lee

    All of these issues tug at my heart, and I’d love to do what I can to help, but human trafficking is at the top of the list for sure. Trafficking takes away from God’s children the basic right to be free, to choose. It enslaves. It is driven by pure evil and depravity–human beings created in the image of God enslaving and unspeakably abusing other human beings created in the image of God. It makes my stomach turn to know what we are capable of without Christ.

  42. brie

    I agree that picking just one is almost impossble! My heart aches for human trafficking. There is such a need for us to be educated..since its happening in our communities. I also can get pretty fired up about those that are hungry around the World. Often I think….what can we do practically to help? Im excited to read this book.

  43. brie

    I agree that picking just one is almost impossble! My heart aches for human trafficking. There is such a need for us to be educated..since its happening in our communities. I also can get pretty fired up about those that are hungry around the World. Often I think….what can we do practically to help? Im excited to read this book.

  44. Shannon Wheeler

    My passion is orphan care and adoption advocacy. God shows us so profoundly in His Word what His heart for the orphan is, and I’m compelled by the love of Christ for these kids to love them myself and be an advocate. About a year and a half ago, we first came to know an orphan in Eastern Europe, and we have become friends with those who are caregivers at his center, and though he has aged-out of adoption eligibility, he is our family. What God’s done in my heart and in my life through this young man, Sasha can’t possibly know. We try to bless him often with gifts and lots of letters and prayers and next month a visit… but he has done far more in my life than he can ever know. (God uses all our kids to change us, though, so why should it be different just because this one is so far away?)

    A ton of my writing in my blog is about Sasha, about the way God’s changing me as I love this kid, and about the process of letting go of my dreams and trusting the Lord to make them line up with His. I’m so blessed that we will be going to spend time with Sasha in just a few weeks!

    The Lord’s used a closed door in adoption to provide an open door to become more formally involved in orphan care, as a volunteer with Project HOPEFUL and in missions work in Eastern Europe.

  45. Rebekah Gambrell

    I have had my heart broken as I have read and learned about human trafficking. My husband and I have lived abroad and we have always been involved in working with abuse and neglected boys and girls. I always heard of hard situations but felt like I had my hands tied because the laws were so weak in the countries that we were in. Abuse is so rampant in third world countries. I found myself wanting to do more. My husband got an international MBA degree (I thought) so that we could live abroad and live, work and support a ministry abroad in a neglected country. (I was hopping South America) but….. we ended up in my hometown. I ended up with the job that my mom had while I was growing up. I was teaching … I never wanted to teach let alone in the school where I graduated. I have lived with so little and I was willing to continue with that dream but God had other plans. I started looking abroad at the problem of trafficking because our church in SC was helping rescue girls from brothels in India. As I researched this subject I started finding so many problems here in the USA. The laws are soft and the trafficking increasing. I also learned that just an hour away was one of the hot spots or trafficking. I knew I needed to do something. I have to do something. For the month of May I decided to wear ropes on my wrists to display all that I was feeling. I have very few people comment on them but those that did were people who connected me with someone who knew how I could help. It was amazing the ways that God showed me that this was where he wanted me. I thought I would take them off at the end of May but I decided to keep one one and it is still on my wrist as I write this. It isn’t very pretty but I find myself praying much more than I ever have about this problem and my part that I hope to play. I wrote to my senators for the first time in my life so they might cosponsor the bill that is in the Senate. I hope to volunteer at a local shelter for trafficked women. I also help to educate my students more about trafficking. My life changing book was “Good news about injustice”
    Sorry for the length….. We might still go abroad but I have been planted here and this is were I need to grow.

  46. Bethany

    How can you pick just one? I would have to say human trafficking–this one will destroy you physically, emotionally, socially, etc. I can’t even imagine being so desperate that you would subject yourself or even your own children to this! I want all my presents to people to be items handcrafted from women in other countries who are selling things so they don’t have to sell themselves or their children to the sex trade.

  47. Elizabeth M Thompson

    My heart breaks for the victims of human trafficking. There is a ministry in our area, Courage to Be You (C2BU) that works to get young women off the streets and into a safe environment where they can be loved, encouraged and prepared for a better life. (Prior to this ministry, these young women were carted off to Juvenile Hall because there was no system in place to meet their unique needs. They were treated as criminals whether they participated willingly or by threat or force.)

    Before I heard Jenny Williamson of C2BU speak, I naively believed it was a problem far removed from Northern CA. I was shocked to find out how prevalent it is–with young women being sold for sex within a few miles of my church!

    Our community is supporting this ministry and circling the wagons around this problem and the precious souls forced into sex trafficking.

    1. Bethany

      Wow. I also naively believe that this is an issue only in other countries. Does C2BU have a website? What an incredible ministry!

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