Friday, October 25, 2013

Fields of Grace

Book Review

Hannah Luce has a story to tell. She was the sole survivor of a disastrous plane crash. Fields of Grace is her story told by Hannah, with Robin Gaby Fisher. Hannah is the daughter of Ron Luce, the founder of a ministry called Teen Mania. Hannah grew up as a princess, very pampered. She lived in a lakeside home and had traveled the world. She entered Oral Roberts University with a full-ride scholarship. After college, in an era when jobs were in short supply she was given full-time employment with Teen Mania.

Hannah told how as an adolescent she began to secretly question much of what she had been taught about God. I thought one of the somewhat amusing parts of the story was her description of trying to speak in tongues. After much prayer, with still no tongue speaking from above, she decides to fake it and makes up, on the spot, a message in gibberish. In some ways, I could relate to her story because as a teen-ager I felt like I could never get Christianity right. It took awhile; but I finally learned that it was not anything I could do. I was dependent on God rescuing me. Hannah was good at “God-talk” but her struggle to find God continued through her college years.

The story began with Hannah returning to the field in Kansas where her plane went down. It ended with the same setting. The middle of the story is an autobiographical depiction of her life, including her struggle with God. One of the more extraordinary parts of the book was her description of her post-accident life as a burn victim. She made the horror of it graphically real. Another thought-provoking segment was the inclusion of stories from the two women who were the first on the scene after the plane crashed. I was deeply touched by the fire chief who went with Hannah back to the field where the crash occurred and the nurse who was off-duty and still sat the entire night with Hannah. These are ordinary people who were truly heroes.

Hannah’s story showed a brave, gutsy young woman who survived a horrible accident. She told of feeling closer to God because of the accident. Yet, her theology still seemed confused. She went to the scene of the accident to try to put the event behind her and to enable her to move forward. I will be interested to see how God uses this young woman in the future.

This is an interesting book. There appear to be two parts to the book. It is an intimate look into the life of a young woman who was well connected in Christian circles; and it is an insider’s look at a young woman who suffered through a horrible accident. Obviously, Hannah could not go through the pain and suffering that she did and not be strongly affected. In a sense, I think that Hannah’s story is only beginning.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy the book for $17.29

About the Book

On May 11, 2012, a small plane carrying five young adults en route to a Christian youth rally plummeted into a Kansas field. Only two survived the crash: twenty-seven-year-old ex-marine Austin Anderson, who would die the next morning from extensive burns, and his friend Hannah Luce, the twenty-two-year-old daughter of influential youth minister Ron Luce. Had it not been for Austin rising out of the rubble to help Hannah along in his last hours, and the assistance of a passing driver who just happened upon them, she may have died.

Fields of Grace is a story not just of survival against the odds, but of spiritual revelation. On the surface, Hannah was the dutiful daughter of Evangelical royalty, with a degree from Oral Roberts University and a staff position in her father’s ministry. Yet she had begun to investigate and question her early religious convictions. Hannah recounts the transformative aftermath of the crash—Austin’s strength as he took care of her even as his own body failed, the miracle of the stranger who rescued them, and memories of her beloved friend Garrett. Profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting, Fields of Grace is a story of a girl staring death in the face only to find resilience and hope from her faith—a new kind of faith that would change her forever.

Book Review

Hannah Luce is the daughter of Teen Mania Ministries cofounder and preacher Ron Luce. She lives in Chicago. At twenty-three years old, she’s also the founder of Mirror Tree, a nonprofit devoted to re-integrating refugees from the horrors of rape, genocide, civil wars, and other means of trauma by funding educational research to improve their lives.

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