"'If we had to understand electricity before we flipped the switch, most of us would live in the dark. It’s something we take by faith.'"

Take a familiar tale about innocent adventurers who plummet into life-threatening survival mazes, add in time travel, clashes of civilization, and a Christian missionary message about the endurance of true faith, and you have the substance, if not the essence, of this unusual tale about a mission gone wrong and the believers who make it right. In 2004, while refurbishing a church in Navajo country as part of a multi-family mission, five young people leave for a short hike and don’t return. While their tormented families search fruitlessly for the missing youngsters, the lost hikers find themselves slaves to a hostile native American tribe some 600 years in the past. How each processes the hardships they face within their own belief systems makes for a compelling, if grueling, read.

At the heart of the story is a Christian teenager named Brenda, whose faith in God is so pure that even as she endures and witnesses unimaginable hardships and cruelty, she never falters in her belief that her circumstances are the will of a benevolent God who has in mind a deliberate and meaningful purpose. In contrast is the Godless and bombastic Sarah who finds no solace in offerings of faith and who, despite her love and loyalty for Brenda, is ever at odds with their surroundings. A core theme of the book is that Brenda, as a result of her inner peace and implacable faith, fares better physically and emotionally than Sarah. Both women are abused, but Brenda, who maintains her positivity and loyalty to a higher good, ultimately thrives.

Though the story is specifically Christian in its teaching and perspective, its lessons are broader. Outside events may cause pain, but individuals own their outlook, and exercising the free will for optimism is itself a deliverance.

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