Book Review: Call of a Coward by Marcia Moston

I often read several chapters before I know whether I am going to like a book, but I can generally tell within a few pages whether I am going to like the author.  When I picked up Marcia Moston’s book, Call of a Coward, I liked her from the first page.  Her description of a six-month family adventure in the mountains of Guatemala is colorful and inviting.  While classic missionary biographies tend to paint their characters above ordinary doubts and discouragements, Marcia intentionally shares her spiritual (and physical) struggles.

As a self-portrayed “middle-class housewife” from New Jersey, Moston was taken aback by her husband’s call to run an orphanage in Central America.  At the time, the remote, Mayan village lacked plumbing, electricity and mail service, let alone television or telephone lines.  This book is a record of Moston’s adventures with her husband, Bob, and preteen daughter, Lily, as well as a window on her journey toward trusting God more deeply.  Moston wrestles with her own misgivings amidst the chaos of lizards dropping from the ceiling and street dogs adopting her family

Strange as it might seem, my family also lived in another country for six months while serving an indigenous mission in Mexico.  Because of that background, I know Moston has more stories to tell than she shared in her short book.  I sometimes felt I was squinting through the surface of a muddy river at hidden jewels below.  For instance, I still don’t know what “the project” they served was really about, how many people were involved or whether it still exists.  I would have loved to hear more detailed stories about the women and children of the mountains, as well as the work these gringos were doing there.  In fact, the chapters about the author’s life post-Guatemala seemed more complete and satisfying than those which were the real focus of the book.

Nevertheless, Moston has an easy, down-to-earth writing style and an entertaining voice which will be accessible to everyone from teenagers to golden-agers.  If you enjoy light, missionary biographies about genuine people and their cross-cultural struggles, you will enjoy Call of a Coward.  I understand the author is currently working on a book about her life in another strange culture: the southern US.  Because I like Marcia Moston as a person and as a new voice in Christian non-fiction, I will look forward to it.

Read more about Marcia, her life and her books at http://www.marciamoston.com/.

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