Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

This book will rock your world!  It reads like an action novel but it is actually true.  And the implications for what this book explains can have earth shattering results.  

To give just a very basic summary, Greg Mortenson is a mountain climbing enthusiast.  On one of his trips to conquer a mountain, he failed to reach the peak he set off to achieve.  In his decent down this mountain he took a wrong path and ended up in a small village in Pakistan.  He comes to know the villagers as they help him regain his strength and energy.  Greg discovers that the children have no school building.  In fact they use the ground to write out their lessons.  As a result of this unintended connection Greg is left with such an impression of these village people that he commits himself to come back and build a school for the children.  

Now that right there sounds like a nice story if it just ended there.  It was easy for me to assume that this guy cut a check and paid for a school to be built; end of story. But the rest of the story did not go like that.  In fact, Greg was not one who could throw around large sums of money.  He made a commitment to these kids knowing that he had very limited resources.  So as he was back in the USA he began writing letters and at times living very simply to raise the cash he needed to honor his commitment.  As he began this process, little did he know all of the up's and down's he would face.  People who would not believe in him.  Others who would take advantage of him.  He had to be persistent, determined and very, very focused to complete the task he set out to do.  He would face many obstacles in the states and over in Pakistan to make this school happen.  As he continued to fight for his dream, it eventually became a reality.  And then, that reality began to spread across a corner of a nation that is considered a dangerous place for anyone to visit or live, especially an American.  

On one hand, I found this story to be amazingly inspirational.  Greg was an ordinary guy with an extraordinary vision.  Everything did not automatically work out for him once he caught his vision.  He came across may discouraging setbacks, yet he pressed on.  As a result he is transforming a culture in a very positive way.

The other message I got out of this book was the issue of war and our relationship to the Middle East.  We as a country have been on a military mission to try and change the culture specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the neighboring countries in general.  But the scary thing is that as much as we might try, military force does not change the hearts and minds of people for the better.  Mortenson's work to give Pakistani children a basic education and hope for a future will help to change the hearts and minds of a generation.  Attacking poverty instead of people. Attacking ignorance with education instead of using military force.  Bridging the gap with love, instead of using fear to polarize us even further.  

This is an extraordinary story that must be told. My hope is that it will spark a counter-revolution to the wars our country is currently involved in at the present moment.  This is the sort of stuff the churches, synagogues and temples should be involved in and actively participating in.  It took one guy with a vision, and now that vision is spreading like fire.  At the very least, may our prayers be a continual support to his efforts in transforming a culture for the better.

With Mortenson's story I believe that there is hope for a future of a Middle East that is at peace with the rest of the world.  His story also proves that stepping out of our comfortable little bubble we tend to create, and live extraordinary lives filled with risk, adventure and faith can and will make a huge impact, sometimes even bigger than we could ever imagine.  In John 14:11-14 Jesus said

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Jesus himself said that we have the power within us to do even greater things than he did!  He has empowered us to be just as transformational as he was.  Really wrap your mind around that thought for a while.  The question is, are we willing to step out in faith and take that chance for God to use us in extraordinary ways or are we too busy creating a comfortable life so we can ignore the problems in our world?  We are called to serve the poor and the downcast. We are told to love our enemies and those who persecute us.  Greg Mortenson certainly lives a life that demonstrates these ideals.  May we learn from his example and dream what God can do through us if we step out in faith and pursue the dreams that he gives us.

Hey, if you finished this blog then check out Greg's website at

1 comment:

damronk said...

Read this several years ago, but I still use some of the examples in my class now. A very powerful book that makes you wonder why educating kids here can be so difficlut sometimes when kids in other parts of the world KNOW it is the key to their development and futures.