This Christian romance and adventure book is the first in the "Mission Hope" series by Lisa Harris and is published by Zondervan.
Blood Ransom is written for readers ages 18 and older. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Natalie Sinclair, a young woman originally from Portland, Ore., is on a two-year contract working for a nonprofit health organization to prevent the spread of diseases in the Republic of Dhambizao in Africa. Joseph Komboli is a 15-year-old young native boy, who has the only known photos and proof of the existence of "ghost soldiers" — men whom the government denies exist but are rumored to attack the small villages to garner slaves to work the mines. Joseph, on his way home with his new birthday camera, chances upon the ghost soldiers as they attack and kidnap the people of his village, including all of his family, and captures the horrific event on his digital camera. Joseph, realizing the importance of these photos, makes his way to Natalie, the only person he knows and trusts who might be able to help him rescue his family. Joseph is hurt in the process of escaping, and Natalie brings him to a small clinic close to her office for treatment. Dr. Chad Talcott is a surgeon on sabbatical leave from his Portland medical practice. He works as a volunteer in this Dhambizao clinic.
Natalie convinces Chad, with Joseph's pictures, to help them get to the capital before it is too late for Joseph's family. This decision launches them into the middle of a modern-day slave trade, but also unexpectedly into high-ranking political intrigue, including the potential rigging of the upcoming presidential election. Chad's friendship with a local missionary, who has access to a small, private airplane, gets them halfway to the capital of Bogama. When the plane is shot down, they know that whomever is responsible does not want them to get to the U.S. Embassy in Bogama. Because of Joseph, the trio is protected and hidden in a village, then put on a boat headed for Bogama. They are followed and must jump from the boat and run for their lives into the jungle, but they eventually find a canoe driver who takes them to Bogama. The three of them spend the night at a friend's apartment before heading out separately to the U.S. Embassy in the morning. Chad and Joseph make it; Natalie does not. She is spotted and kidnapped on her way to the embassy. However, since Joseph has the photos, the people at the embassy have proof of the slave trade.
The people behind the ghost soldiers bomb the embassy in hopes of terrorizing, if not killing those in it. Hopes dim for Natalie's release, but Chad, Joseph and Natalie know that their prayers connect to a real God, and He is their only hope of help. When Natalie is finally rescued, she and Chad discover that a high-ranking general is behind both the slave trade and the political tampering. A political coup is stopped, and young Joseph is reunited with what remains of his family.
Natalie and Chad both have a deep and personal faith in God, and believe He is alive and is their help in times of trouble. They often pray in Jesus' name for protection and success. Natalie believes that God is watching out for Joseph's family. Joseph talks about his village as being Christian. Joseph prays to Jesus for the safe return of his family. The bush pilot, Nick, was part of a Christian mission in Dhambizao.
Natalie respects Stephen as her boss. The authority of the U.S. Embassy is respected and trusted. The president of Dhambizao is respected as the leader of the country.
Other Belief Systems
Might is right for many who trust the military rulers. They believe in the strength and power of wealth and money.
Joseph witnesses a bloody fight between the ghost soldiers and his village when those in the village are taken captive. Joseph is hit in the head with the butt of a rifle and barely misses being hit by a bullet. Natalie finds a dried pool of blood at the remains of Joseph's family's village. The Cessna airplane that Chad, Natalie, Joseph and Nick are using to fly to Bogama is shot out of the sky. The villagers who befriend Chad and Natalie are attacked. Natalie is shot in the shoulder, and the wound frequently oozes blood. Nick is beat up after he tries to escape in his Cessna. Natalie's friend Gabby is followed, shot at and almost kidnapped. Chad and Natalie steal a cab. Natalie's friend Rachel is murdered and is found in a pool of blood. Natalie is kidnapped and held bound in a small hut. The U.S. Embassy is bombed. Natalie's boss is blown up by a car bomb. His charred remains are found sitting in the car.
One gentle kiss is exchanged between Chad and Natalie.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- When you think of someone being a missionary, what do you envision?
How does this novel confirm or deny your idea?
- What do you know about human trafficking?
How is it a problem in the world today? What have others done about this problem?
What can you do about it?
- What does Natalie know might happen if she tries to bring the photos of the ghost soldiers to the right people?
Why does she do it anyway when she knows her life will be put in danger?
Does she do the right thing? What would you have done in her place?
Who or what enables her to have the courage to do what she does?
- Natalie, Chad and Joseph each see the Lord answer their prayers.
For whom does that make the biggest difference? Why?
- If you could be a missionary either in a war-torn country like Dhambizao or a "safe" country like Canada, which would be your first choice? Why?
- Although Dhambizao is a fictitious place, there are countries that are similar to it. Can you name some?
You may never be called to be a missionary to any of these countries, so what can you do to make a difference to the people of such countries now?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.