Monday, March 1, 2010

'Saved by Her Enemy: An Iraqi Woman's Journey From the Heart of War to the Heartland of America' by Don Teague and Rafraf Barrak - Book Review

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If you have been a viewer of network news over the past decade, you are more than likely familiar with the reporting of Don Teague.  He is currently a correspondent for CBS News, and appears regularly on the ‘CBS Evening News with Katie Couric,’ ‘The Early Show,’ and ‘Sunday Morning’; prior to that network, he was employed by NBC, and appeared regularly on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (and Mr. Williams’ predecessor, Tom Brokaw), the 'Today' Show, and NBC’s cable news network, MSNBC.

Don Teague is the coauthor, with Rafraf Barrak, of the new release, 'Saved by Her Enemy: An Iraqi’s Woman’s Journey From the Heart of War to the Heartland of America.’  This interesting book tells the amazing story of Ms. Barrak, who was born in Baghdad, Iraq.  She was the fifth child in a family that would grow to ten children.  Rafraf’s interesting first name was bestowed upon her by her father.  He found the word in the Koran; she would be named after one of Allah’s promises – the paradise to come.  She was a student at Baghdad University until the time that the university had to be shut down (due to the war), then was employed by NBC as a translator.  Mr. Teague worked with her when he was assigned as a war correspondent there in 2004.  Ms. Barrak was raised as a Muslim, although she did have a rebellious streak (don't we all?!).

Rafraf and Don developed a strong bond after they survived a bomb attack at a school in Baghdad on February 16, 2004.  One of the bombs detonated; the one nearest them had a faulty detonator – sparing their lives.

Mr. Teague interprets the events of that day this way:

“I supposed it could have been luck, but to me the incident at the school had God’s fingerprints all over it.  I believe he can and does intervene in human events.  I don’t pretend to understand his timing or his ways, but I believe God allows some things for a purpose.     

                   But what purpose? I thought to myself.”  (p. 174)

As time went on, and Mr. Teague returned to the United States, the Iraqis who worked in concert with Americans were in danger on a more and more regular basis; it was a matter of vengeance to the insurgents.  Don promised Rafraf that he would do what he could do to help Rafraf gain entry into the United States.  She ultimately did arrive in the United States, and was welcomed into the Teague home as a member of their family by Don and his wife Kiki and their daughters, Rachael and Madison.  They truly exemplified the love of Christ to this young Muslim woman who had been indoctrinated by the Iraqi culture to think of Americans as being evil and vengeful toward her people.

I found this book to be very well-written; it had a conversation tone to it.  The parts which were written by Mr. Teague were in the first person; the sections written about Ms. Barrak were written in the third person.  I came away from this book admiring both of these people.  Don and his family lived out their faith, and Rafraf displayed an intelligence and confidence that were beyond expectation when you consider her background.     

One paragraph that is particular poignant to me is this:

“We [Don and his wife, Kiki] both believe what we do on earth matters, but what’s most important is what happens next.  Where does your soul go?  For us the answer is accepting Jesus.  He is the way to God and he paid a price we could never afford.  He loved us so much that he came down to walk with us, show us love and mercy and demonstrated through the cross that he had victory over death and that he wanted us to be with him forever in heaven.  All we had to do was believe and accept the gift.” (p. 279)

I was amazed and intrigued by 'Saved by Her Enemy' for several reasons.  For one thing, I was so happy to see that Don Teague, with his high profile, is so open about his faith in Jesus Christ.  It is heartwarming to me that, in this postmodern age, he is willing to share his faith in such a public forum as this book.  And I am grateful that Rafraf discovered the ultimate truth and love and salvation of Jesus Christ; His Holy Spirit met her right where she was!  If we never have the opportunity to meet on this earth, I look forward to rejoicing with them in heaven!  And I will continue to pray that they will be blessed in their endeavors to share their story.  

This book was provided to me by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., for review purposes.

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