Joshua’s Mission is a new standalone novel in the Plain and Simple Miracles collection from popular author Vannetta Chapman. These stories of love and family and Amish community in Oklahoma tell of the miracles that can happen when lives are lived in service to God and to one another.
Joshua Kline travels from his farm in Oklahoma to offer aid to an Englisch town on the gulf coast of Texas after a category 4 hurricane has ravaged the area. He brings his brother with him, who needs a change of environment. The last thing he wants for Alton is another brush with the law. He is pleasantly surprised when he hears that Becca Troyer, the bishop’s granddaughter, plans on joining their team.
What will Joshua find when he arrives in Texas? A lack of electricity, certainly, which poses little problem for the Amish volunteers as they help restore order from destruction. But a budding romance? A call from God? And a possible healing of his relationship with Alton?
Joshua’s Mission is a story of love, forgiveness, and the grace of God that carries us through even the worst situations.
“As the oldest brother, I’m sure you often do know what’s best for Alton and even the sisters you’ve told me about. Sometimes. No one always knows what’s best though. Let me ask you a question, and I want an honest answer. Have you prayed about this?”
“I ask Gotte every night to bring my bruder back into the fold –”
“That’s not what I’m talking about, Joshua. Have you prayed for yourself? That God will give you a clear perspective and heal your relationship with your brother?” When Joshua didn’t answer, Charlie slapped him lightly on the back. “Perhaps you should start there.”
This is the second book in Vannetta Chapman’s “Plain and Simple Miracles” series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel. Having enjoyed the first book in this series I looked forward to reviewing this one but while I did enjoy it, it didn’t quite capture me in the same way ‘Anna’s Healing’ did.
The story is told from three different points-of-view: Charlie Everman, a 65 year old Englischer man; Joshua Kline, a 27 year old Amish man; and Becca Troyer, a 20 year old Amish woman. All three of these characters tended towards the serious (or at least quiet) side of the personality spectrum, and while there is nothing wrong with this, I felt as though a slightly livelier character could have lightened the overall mood of the story. The romance did this to a certain extent, but even this often sat in the shadow cast by the tension between Joshua and Alton.
The first third of the novel is split between Port Aransas, Texas (Charlie’s point-of-view) and Cody’s Creek, Oklahoma (Joshua’s and Becca’s points-of-view). In Port Aransas, the community is preparing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Orion, but Charlie sends his ‘adopted’ daughter, Alice, and her grandchildren on ahead of him while he stays to help as many others as he can. When Hurricane Orion hits before Charlie has managed to convince his friend Moose to leave with him, he has little choice but to pray they will survive the storm.
Meanwhile, a different kind of storm is hovering on the horizon for the Kline family. Twenty-seven year old Joshua is the eldest of six. His next youngest sibling, Alton, is ten years younger and making the most of his rumspringa, but when Joshua has to travel to a town three hours away in order to collect Alton from an overnight stay in jail they know things are getting out of hand. Will this brush with the law be enough of a wake-up call to encourage Alton to show more restraint in the future?
Skip forward seven months and Becca Troyer, granddaughter of Bishop Levi, is preparing to go on a mission with the Mennonite Disaster Services to help with rebuilding in the Port Aransas community. Although Alton has not had any further brushes with the law Joshua is still concerned that his brother is not as settled as he should be and Bishop Levi suggests that getting a different perspective on life might be just what Alton needs. They, too, join the MDS mission trip along with another young girl from their Community, Sarah Yoder. From here the story is centred in Port Aransas where the MDS mission group work on three homes, one of which will be a home for Alice and her grandchildren. As they work together on the rebuilding, the four young people have many opportunities to get to know each other better. In some cases this fosters a deepening of affection and friendship while in other cases it fosters deepening concern.
I think one of the main reasons I found this novel less engaging than the first in the series is that Joshua and Becca are relatively passive characters in the overall plot. I liked the way Joshua was lead to examine his attitude towards his brother (and the role Becca played in bringing this about), but in many ways it was Alton who drove the story, and so in that way I think I felt a little removed from the action. As I mentioned before, Joshua and Becca also tended to be on the serious side personality wise, which gave the novel a more sombre tone than I expected.
The romance between Joshua and Becca was sweet and developed naturally as their friendship grew. There was one moment in particular where the writing felt a bit abrupt, but there were also some lovely moments that made me nostalgic for those early days in my relationship with my husband. You know, those days where everything is new and you’re enjoying getting to know one another… *happy sigh*
All in all an enjoyable read, but not quite on the same level as ‘Anna’s Healing’ in my opinion.
I received a copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 1 February 2016
Pages: 354 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Author’s Website: http://vannettachapman.com/
Previous books in series:
Read my review