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Book Review

The Unseen Hand: The Angela Tran Story by Bob Cretney; published 2009 by Gospel Folio Press; 100 pages. Available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £9.99. (9781897117644)

When communism was imposed on Vietnam during the 1970’s, Angela Tran’s parents decided that she should flee from the country alone. She was only sixteen years old.

As Bob Cretney follows the varied events of Angela’s life, the reader will discover that the hand of God is one that will never let go.

This does not mean that life was going to be easy for Angela. As one of the “boat people”, she initially found herself stranded in the South China Sea with over four hundred hopeful emigrants and a captain who had lost his way. The reader will discover how God spoke to her through this incident. Her steps are then traced through a Bankok refugee camp until she finally reached Canada.

In Canada, valued help was received from Bob Cretney, his wife, and the local believers. The book also considers how Angela adapted to the many cultural changes, and reveals how she met her husband.

The chapter entitled “Dark Secrets” relates Angela’s struggles when depression struck. She states, “I would ask myself, ‘How can I get out of this cloudiness that has engulfed me?’” Following this, how would she cope in her fight against cancer?

She observes, “I escaped from a cavern of sorrow, but I know I could not have accomplished what I did without God’s hand upon me”.

The focus upon Angela’s conversion and her battles along the rocky roads of life are woven in with a personal appeal to any non-Christian reader to trust in the Saviour. Bible verses with reference to salvation are carefully employed. This feature makes it a suitable book for presenting to those who are not Christians. The Unseen Hand is also enhanced with relevant full colour photos.

Angela’s purpose in relating her experiences is plainly stated: “...that you will come to realize that the God whom I love is there for you when you face seemingly unbearable circumstances in your life”.


Seven Words of Love by Malcolm White; published by Gospel Folio Press; 95 pages. Available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £6.99. (9781897117927)

Malcolm White is not the first to publish on the seven recorded words uttered by the Lord Jesus upon the cross, as the author’s own bibliography confirms. A number of sermons on the seven never-to-be-forgotten sayings are accessible and prove profitable. White’s 95-page volume is not a collection of sermons, nor a section of a commentary, but, in the reviewer’s assessment, is a profitable and encouraging set of meditations.

The introductory chapter of Seven Words of Love lists the seven words and provides a title for each – Prayer, Promise, Passion, Perplexity, Pain, Power, and Preservation. The chapter is only four pages long including an interesting analysis of each of the seven sayings and its background in the Old Testament. The book would have benefitted from a more expansive introduction; certainly the reader would have found much help in a further development of the interesting connections with the Old Testament.

The Publishers indicate that there is a gospel emphasis in Seven Words of Love. The reader encounters themes like sin, forgiveness, and salvation, though the author does assume that only believers are likely to read his book, so we meet a heading “... because He was forsaken, we shall never be” without a qualifying statement that this is only the assurance of Christians.

In this devotional work, there are some surprises.  Writing on “Father, forgive them”, White includes in the pronoun “them” the disciples who forsook their Lord. Occasionally, without support from Scripture, we meet statements like: “He suffered Hell for us;” “... sin’s dread load ... breaks the communion of Father and Son”. Each chapter is illustrated by poetry, incidents from history, and sermons where we find Dr Martin Luther King cited among names like Wesley, Bonar, Spurgeon, and Bliss.



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