Leanna Cinquanta. Treasures in Dark Places: One Woman, A Supernatural Mission and a Mission to the Toughest Part of India. Minneapolis: Chosen Books, 2017. See here to purchase the book.
Treasures in Dark Places is Leanna Cinquanta’s story of how she came to faith and became a missionary to India. Cinquanta also tells about the Indian people who became involved in the mission, and she closes the book with two different stories: one Indian girl receives an education, and another Indian girl is tricked into becoming a sex slave. This closing part of the book is a call to action.
The writing style of the book was rather dramatic and flamboyant, but sometimes that enhanced the book. For example, Cinquanta tells the story of how she came close to becoming a Christian when she was trapped in snow while skiing, but, once she returned safely back to the ski lodge, she forgot all about her vulnerability and need for God. She likened that to Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus, who submitted to God during the plagues but hardened his heart once the plagues had passed!
Her description of the Holy Spirit’s presence inside of her after she became a Christian was a compelling and vivid picture. While her story about how she became a missionary was initially grandiose, as if God called her to convert India to Christianity single-handedly, that was counter-balanced throughout the course of the book. Cinquanta did not always get what she wanted, for God placed her in an office job, while the work on the front-lines was to be done by Indian Christians themselves. Cinquanta also tells the stories of how God chose certain people over others for specific tasks, and how their specific backgrounds equipped them. In the course of the book, Cinquanta became one character among others, not the main star. The main star was God.
The book is not exactly comprehensive in describing Indian culture and religion, but there are occasions in which Cinquanta provides glimpses into Indian religion: the disappointment of some Indians with Hinduism, and Hindu beliefs on heaven and hell. Occasionally, reincarnation was a part of her picture of Hinduism. Cinquanta’s view of Hinduism in this book was not particularly charitable, for she depicted Hindu gods as demons. I tend to prefer Bradley Malkovsky’s more charitable Christian view of Hinduism in his excellent 2013 book, God’s Other Children: Personal Encounters with Faith, Love, and Holiness in Sacred India. Still, Cinquanta speaks from her own experiences, and her stories provide a window into why some Indians forsake Hinduism for Christianity, as well as the uphill struggles they endure as a consequence.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews and Netgalley. My review is honest!