An Open Door
Maud Kells is the missionary who is perhaps best known for surviving being shot by an intruder in Congo in 2015. This book is the full account of Maud’s life and contains many more wonderfully inspiring stories.It is one of those books that will change you - or at least it should. Maud’s story puts into perspective all those first world problems that we moan about and will deeply challenge you about your commitment, obedience and trust in God. Beautifully told by Jean Gibson, you cannot fail to be inspired by this powerful story of one woman’s courage, and if you don’t shed a tear in the process, you must be made of stone.
Sarah Harding, editor, Presbyterian Herald, August 2019
Journey of Hope
Jean Gibson, National Representative for Care for the Family in Northern Ireland, and her husband Brian, spent most of June 2011 travelling through Malawi and Kenya. Having worked in theological education in Kenya for eight years in the eighties, they returned to Africa to meet local people who had encountered particular challenges in their lives.
Underpinning the tragedies and harshness, are numerous examples of hope, courage, joy, personal sacrifice and instances of living out the love and Gospel of Christ on the part of ‘ordinary’ people who could have been forgiven for simply rolling over, having endured more than most of us in the West will ever have to experience.
Remarkably, they have remained strong in their faith, in their trust in God for the future and in their desire to work to bring God’s love to family and community.
The author is a consummate storyteller who approaches and recounts each person’s life story and experience - as she did in her previous two books, Seasons of Womanhood and Joyful in Hope – with deep sensitivity, compassion, empathy and faith.
For those like this reviewer, who will probably never visit the ‘Dark continent’ in their lifetime, Jean Gibson brings Africa – its joys and its harshness – right into our living rooms. Bishop Harold Miller is not too far from the truth: ‘Jean has a remarkable gift for painting pictures in words. You will feel as though you are there, smelling the smells, meeting the people she has met, and sensing something of the heart of God for their needs and situations.’
Assistant Editor, Church of Ireland Gazette, 31 August 2012
Joyful in Hope
These are touching, humbling and inspiring stories of real women who have been willing to ‘bare their soul’ and share their vulnerability in the hope that their experiences might encourage others and show that, even in the midst of such challenges and trauma, joy and hope can still shine through.
Whilst obviously focused, for the most part, on the experiences of women, this is a book which has an equal relevance to men and will, I believe, be appreciated by both men and women.
It is most certainly no bad thing for us to be reminded, especially in our self-centred complacency and Christmas commercial binge, that some people face the most extraordinarily difficult and daunting of challenges and tragedies in their lives.
However the foundation of Jean Gibson’s admirable book – like the season itself – is ‘Emmanuel’, ‘God with us’. These stories illustrate that, whilst we are not guaranteed immunity from life’s problems, we are not alone in our experiences; no situation is beyond hope; and God’s presence and grace give inner strength to cope.
Assistant Editor, Church of Ireland Gazette, December 2010
Joyful in Hope is a small and immensely readable book. It has eight chapters and each is a self-contained story of a different woman’s life. The stories told encompass a wide range of experiences but the common thread is that each woman has a deep faith that enables her to cope with difficult circumstances.
The issues faced include dealing with infertility, cancer, living with an autistic child, caring for a disabled husband and coping with bereavement. Each story is very well written and engaging. I found the book both easy to start and hard to put down.
It is a light, easy book to give as a present. This is an ideal book to settle down with on a winter’s evening and experience encouragement from the women who have shared their stories.
Debbie Hardman, Evangelicals Now
Whilst tragically sad in places, the title Joyful in Hope reflects how these women have persevered through adversity with their faith in God as their guide. We hear about the mother who had to cope with the shock of her son’s autism; one woman’s fight against breast cancer; a mother who had to come to terms with her son’s homosexuality; and a childless couple’s perseverance to adopt.
Many women who have struggled with similar issues will identify with the grief and heartache spilled out through the book and will draw comfort from how these women have coped. Their reactions have been honestly portrayed by jean, often including anger, despair and desperation, which helps to reflect the reality of each situation and the sincerity with which their stories are told.
The outcome of each story varies – sometimes tragic and often things aren’t altered much by the end. However, it is the reactions of those involved that is key in each circumstance. God is faithful with His grace and mercy, providing hope and joy in even the hardest of times. It is this assurance of His love and care and the testimony of it from these women that will inspire others as they read this book and contemplate it further.
Presbyterian Herald, May 2011
Seasons of Womanhood
This is the story of nine very different situations - a teenager involved with para-militaries, the very real problems of singleness, divorce, childlessness etc. But they all show how God was with them in their very different situations bringing hope and providing God's power when one is up against the odds. God's answers are not often easy or quick. An encouraging read as you see how despair with a human face turns to hope in seemingly impossible situations.
Wider World magazine, 2008
Jean Gibson shares the stories of 10 women - all at different life stages - who are facing life with courage and faith. Here are stories of the trauma of a broken marriage, infertility, miscarriage, post-natal depression, anorexia, caring for a chronically ill relative, living with alzheimers, making the most of retirement and finding fullfillment as a single woman. These are ordinary women whose faith in an extraordinary God grows amid the toughest of circumstances.
Womanalive magazine, 2008
Jean Gibson is better known as the Northern Ireland Manager of Care for the Family and Reality event co-ordinator. In Seasons of Womanhood she has taken nine women's personal stories and retold them to inspire and show God's sufficiency in the many different situations in life. The stories cover various stages of a woman's life, from teenage days to final years allowing us to see through the eyes of these woman, mostly from Northern Ireland, that no situation is beyond hope. This book is an easy and inspiring read and would make a great Christmas present, or perhaps a lifeline to someone going through a situation similar to those described in these chapters.
Methodist Newsletter magazine, December 2007
If I was browsing a theological bookshop, the title Seasons of Womanhood, would not attract me, but the subtitle, stories of despair and hope, did catch my eye. Thus, it was with some ambivalence that I lifted the slim volume, and was immediately drawn into the first chapter through the title, "Wild Child". This is a book which you read avidly, because it is a series of true-life experiences which leaves you in awe of God and his grace. In fact, the whole book is not so much the life stories of ten very different women in difficulty, but it is a witness to a loving, all-knowing, forgiving God, whose grace and power know no bounds. Often, we are gripped by fiction writing, but this is a most absorbing book, even more exciting than any thriller, because it is true life. More than that, it counters anyone who would try to tell you that God is irrelevant. Here we read real evidence of God's power to change and transform lives today. Yes, it is a story about women who have grappled with addiction, singleness, infertility, post-natal depression, difficult and broken marriage, illness and change, but it is just as relevant for men. It gives insight into humanity in difficulty, and is for everyone, because it is about trusting and holding on to God. For anyone who is going through difficult times, this book testifies that God will not abandon you; nor will he give you a trial which you cannot surmount without his help. This is an inspiring book about living the victorious life God wants us to, despte our frailties or difficulties.
Pat Molen, Church of Ireland Gazette, January 27, 2008