American Woman’s Risks to Bring Jesus to Muslim Women
Apprehensions haunt Audra as she and her husband, Kevin, answer God’s call for missionary service and take their three young children to live in Yemen. Having endured her husband’s deadly illness, Audra’s faith falters when she watches her young daughter, Madison, suffer from mysterious seizures. “Why?” she cries to God, and finds her answer in a question. Surrounded by conservative Muslims and her own family crises,Audra struggles to live her Christian faith unapologetically, as the Yemeni women live their Islamic faith. Longing to get behind their black veils to know the “jewels sparkling with life underneath,” Audra is invited into their lives and friendships are forged. Sharing their births, weddings, and funerals, Audra is engulfed with opportunities to minister behind the veils. Filled with humor, passion, and frank honesty, Behind the Veils of Yemen gives glimpses rarely seen into the heart of Islam, of women who cling to Audra when their hopes shrivel and their own faith is insufficient. Culminating with the birth of a critically ill infant, Audra gives powerful glimpses of the unlimited sufficiency of Christ and His heart of limitless love.
Bio: Alongside her husband and their four children, Audra Grace Shelby served nine years as a Southern Baptist missionary in the Middle East. Audra began her involvement in missions as the daughter of career missionaries to South America. When her mother died tragically on the field, five-year-old Audra returned to the United States with her father and siblings. After her father remarried, the family served in the Caribbean. Audra met her husband, Kevin, in Texas. They answered God’s call to Yemen with their daughter Madison*, 7, and sons, Jaden*, 5, and Jack*, 2, joined later by the birth of their son, Jacob*.
In Yemen, Audra shared the lives of Muslim women, reaching behind their veils to communicate God’s message. When the needs of their growing children became difficult to meet in Yemen, Kevin and Audra transferred to Egypt, later returning tot he United States. Passionate to communicate who God is in a way people understand, Audra utilizes opportunities to speak in conferences and churches, on radio broadcasts, and through her writing. Behind the Veils of Yemen is Audra’s first book. Audra and Kevin remain actively involved in getting God’s message to the people in the Middle East and around the world.
*Names have been changed for security purposes.
Audra Grace Shelby, in her book, Behind the Veils of Yemen, describes the stark realities of how difficult it is to bridge a relationship in order to witness in a Muslim country. The first thing she did in order to accomplish this was to wear the customary garments of the Muslim women so she could blend in better, though word always seemed to advance before her arrival–a mussihiya [Christian].
Though her faith was challenged at times and she faltered, Audra learned to rely heavily on her trust in and prayers to the Lord to know what and how to do things, what to say, and when. Her personal encounters during a Muslim wedding, the treatment of Muslim women overall, and her personal doubts and fears are all penned to display their life in Yemen. Learning what the women wore under their outer garments was shocking, but gave me a bird’s-eye view of women in general worldwide!
I must admit that at first I thought this was a simple book. But as I thought and prayed about it, I came to realize that I overlooked some simple and major issues. Thus my idea of going oversees to bring Jesus to Muslims has been broadened significantly as Audra dealt with the entrenched mindset of the people and their customs. Little did I understand the difficulties and accommodations that needed to be applied. It opened the door to understand better how to pray for a Christian witnessing in a land hostile to Christians.
The Shelby’s love for the people compelled them to return to the region after their furlough. It reminds me of the verse, “…we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20.
I would recommend this book as a tutorial for training for missions to other countries. My thanks to Audra for being transparent in her time as a missionary.
This book was provided by Jim Hart of Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.