Church Behind the Wire Review

Book Review: 

Barnabas Mam is one of an estimated 200 Christians who survived Pol Pot's reign of terror during the View Nam War. This is his autobiography. Barnabas Mam is a lover of detail, painting word pictures for the reader to visualize the extreme suffering endured by those who lived in the Killing Fields and camps.

He was raised Buddhist and became a communist as a teenager. But in the early 1970's, while spying on a church service, he gave his heart to Christ. He was arrested, spent four years in a prison camp, Sambok Moan, and in the Killing Fields in Battambang , sharing Christ as openly as he could. Later, he spent another eight years in a refugee camp in Thailand where he helped organize groups of believers who later spread over Cambodia planting over 400 churches.

Cruelty and poverty was described in Church Behind The Wire, yet the faithfulness and boldness of the believers brought me to tears as I read. I was deeply moved at his view of death and how early in his captivity, he believed God loved the martyrs less for allowing them to die. Yet, as his captivity lengthened, he began to welcome Heaven and believed that possibly God loved those who were killed more because they had been able to escape the suffering.

Throughout this book, one phrase from Psalm 23 resonated. "I shall not want." The author believed that everything he needed would be supplied. God proved Himself faithful. Yes, his life was extremely difficult and heartbreaking, but in everything, as Job, he praised God in the midst of his situation.

Church Behind The Wire was a blessing to me, as I know you also will be in its reading. Because of the content in a few areas, I do not recommend this to young readers. Those in high school, especially those studying the View Nam War, will find it an informative supplement to their academics. You will find that this book is not only a story of the author's life, but a testament to God's power in saving a man to be a champion for the Gospel.