Ex-Navy SEAL Stone Pressfield has a bad feeling about the proposed church missions trip to Manila, Philippines. The college-age church group plans to go to Manila and help victims of the sex-trafficking industry. Stone's lingering nightmare memories about the sex-trafficking industry have him warning church leaders that the trip is a bad idea. He knows all too well that it could end in violence, and those involved aren't to be trifled with.
When beautiful Wren Morgan goes missing, he has a sick feeling that he knows exactly who took her, and for what purpose. The problem is, Wren isn't just any other student. She's someone he's close to, someone he cares about. Now she's in the hands of cruel, evil men, and Stone is the only one who can rescue her before the unthinkable happens.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
The Missionary by Jack Wilder
Stone is a former Navy SEAL playing music at a church where he happens to know one of the church leaders, when he finds himself in the middle of a conversation about traveling to the Philippines to help victims of the to a apparently grew up with they’re talking about sending kind of their college age student group to the Philippines to help victims of the sex trafficking industry. Opposed to the group of college students putting themselves in that kind of danger, his arguments and warnings fall on deaf ears. So when the trip goes all wrong and Wren, the one woman who can distract him from anything is taken, he has no choice but to try to find her.
But… The church/mission leaders are morons. There’s really no other way to put it. Instead of listening to the one man who has a clue what things are like in some seedier parts of the world, they insist they’ve done their research and will be just fine. And so they march a sizeable group of naïve, unprepared, idealistic college students right into an area where human traffickers thrive. Now, I realize that true missionary work often takes people into dangerous places and situations, but I simply cannot believe that a church not bordering on cult status would allow its regular members to risk themselves armed with little more than reading knowledge. My parents went on mission trips to unstable places, and I work at a church that is right now supporting missionaries embarking on exactly this kind of trip, but I have never seen pastors or lay people behave so stupidly as the church in this book. And where were all these kids’ parents? Even at my age, if I mentioned to my dad that I was travelling to a haven for human traffickers, he would not only steal my passport but probably flatten my tires, lock me in my apartment, and force me to listen to scary statistics about murdered missionaries.
Judging Covers: Dark, dark, dark. Dark enough that I almost didn’t give the book a chance. But given the subject matter, it’s certainly accurate and appropriate.
The Verdict: Despite my disbelief at the utter stupidity of everyone who thought this trip would be even remotely safe, it really is a great book.
Upon the mission group’s arrival in the Philippines, everything seems to be going smoothly, but that’s just the surface they see. The young men and women participating in the missionary work are generally following basic safety guidelines, but they are completely oblivious to the danger around them, too distracted by their idealistic views of how everything is going to work out. With virtually no warning, Wren is snatched off the street, and that’s where things get unbelievably tense. I have to say that Wilder did an awesome job of not glossing over anything while still not making this as terrible as it could’ve been.
Wren was incredibly lucky that she wasn’t raped, that she wasn’t sold, that she wasn’t killed… But still we got to see how absolutely terrible the whole situation is. And to add to the realism, there was no outsmarting anyone; she couldn’t do anything to escape, and there wasn’t some brilliant psychological game to get on the kidnapper’s good side. She is beaten for no reason, taunted and treated like property, just kind of left there in a disgusting and terrifying situation. In sure that in the real world, situations vary a bit, but I can’t imagine Wren’s experience is off-base, and Wilder did a great job of keeping the despair and tension high without throwing in unnecessary drama.
Of course, the fun — if you can call any of it fun — is when Stone, who already cares too much for Wren and is kind of fighting his attraction to her, is now determined to get her back, no matter what he has to go through. He does anything he can, finds contacts, tracks people, and he does eventually track down Wren. The escape is bloody and frightening, filled with too many nail-biting moments to count, and even a moment when Wren ends up back in the hands of the traffickers. Of course, we do eventually get our happily ever after, and I suppose you could say Wren is okay despite what she’s been through. It’s not like she’s not traumatized, but she isn’t completely devastated, so there’s room for Stone and Wren’s romance to take off.
I don’t read a whole lot of books with this kind of subject matter simply because they’re generally do humanizing and depressing — or worse, so gratuitous and out of touch that they’re almost insulting. However, The Missionary by Jack Wilder balances out the real with the fictional happily ever after we all want, and it avoids being preachy while still illustrating a very real problem in the world. For the casual reader, this is a nice love story, full of action and danger, that highlights what’s going on around us without trivializing any of it. Somehow Wilder manages to entertain, provide some romance, and raise awareness of the scourge that is modern day slavery and human trafficking.
|5 star rating|
|4 star rating|
|4 star rating|
|5 star rating|
|4 star rating|
|Overall Rating||4 star rating|