Guatemala Blog (Book Review)

Author: Sydney Harris
May 15, 2017

Love in a Fearful Land

Love in a Fearful Land by Henri Nouwen is about unfaltering faith and love towards God. It follows two men’s journeys, Stan Rother and John Vesey during a violent and destructive time in Guatemala. It shows the details of love, prayer, martyrdom, and friendship.

Stan Rother was described as kind and gentle man by his friends and family. At the beginning of the story Stan is working at the Oklahoma City-Tulsa Diocese. However, in June 1968 he was appointed to the missing team at Santiago Atitlan by Bishop Victor J. Reed. When he got there he immediately started to get to know the people and share his knowledge of faith. While he was in Santiago Atitlan Guatemala was in the middle of a Civil War and Stan was taking care of the people directly affected by it. Stan knew that the longer he stayed there the more at risk he was but he believed the best decision was to stay with his people no matter what. Unfortunately, on July 28, 1981 a death squad broke into the parish retcon late at night and murdered Stan Rother. When the people found out they were devastated. They had gotten to know and trust Stan during his time with them and for the next three years there was no replacement.

On July 25, 1984 the people’s prayers were answered when John Vesey was sent to Santiago Atitlan. John had met Stan in Seminary and became quick friends but after a while parted ways. John eventually ended up serving God in South America. When he had heard about Stan’s death he felt called to go to Santiago Atitlan and continue his ministry. However before he was sent John returned to the US and he went on a retreat in New York  where he learned about the martyrdom of four women in South America. When he found out that their death was overlooked he sought recognition for these girls. After this John spent his time as a pastor at Visitation Parish in Brooklyn and described it as rough and challenging. He then wrote to Archbishop Charles Salatka and asked to be Stan’s successor and on June 5 he was ready. He arrived a few days before the anniversary of Stan’s death and watched the people have a beautiful service and prayer for him. As John started leading services and prayer he always mentioned Stan and his faith in God.

This book has taught me how to be humble and know that we help others for God and not for ourselves. I have also learned about how the Civil War affected the native people and their families and how we are going on this trip to learn more about their stories.


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