Book Reviews: When Doors Close

When Doors Close: Changing Course in Missions Without Losing Your Way

Review by Nik and Ruth Ripken

Authors, The Insanity of God

“Serving God is not a matter of location but a matter of obedience.” During our first assignment overseas a dear mentor shared those words with us as we were forced by devastating health issues from our place of service. Those words have helped us over the years to recognize “closed doors” as new pathways. Our inclination was to fight so that we could remain in Malawi by breaking through windows or knocking down walls. If we had stayed we would have missed some amazing blessings. Thirty-six moves later, we see that obedience doesn’t always feel good, or seem right but it is how we have chosen to walk.

It is so important that we realize that God is shaping the journey and it is through locked we discover new open doors.  We often find God has to close old doors to give us the courage to try new avenues of service.

Carol Ghattas in “When Doors Close,” does us a wonderful service of looking at the blessings of closed doors. She honestly shares her story, and her experiences, and then draws us to reflect using penetrating questions that help us think through each part of the journey.  Whether the reader is thinking about doing missions, already along the journey or reflecting on the adventure from the other side of the door this book is a wonderful resource to checking where we are and what is next.  This is also a needed resource for churches, sending organizations and families who have the most difficult task of sending those they love to the mission field. This is not a one-time read but one that can be pulled out over and over again for a check-up. There are sections that won’t affect you now but eventually will impact your lives and it is good to think through them ahead of time as well as in real time.

It is important that we handle each situation and often, each crisis, with actions that when we look back we are not ashamed of how we acted or see missed opportunities. Carol helps us project what we might do in adverse situations and then allows us to look back and learn from how we reacted to the circumstances that led to the closed door.  If we focus on the closed door we will miss that ever-present call to lostness.  Doors, seemingly closed, lead right into the lives of people who need Christ. Through this book, Carol, along with her husband and sons,  shares her story and models for us a deep love for the lost whichever door they are behind.

Review by Henry L. Deneen

Executive Director, Center for Global Strategies, Ltd.

Having seen God work powerfully, through open doors and closed doors, I resonate completely with what Carol is sharing in this timely and deeply personal book. Timely, because each of us, as ordinary followers of Jesus engaged in blessing our communities and the nations, needs words of encouragement and assurance that we are not on this adventure of following Jesus alone. Deeply personal, because we all have our unique stories of following God’s guiding hand in our lives, through ups and downs; knowing that others have walked this path gives us courage to continue. Thank you, Carol, for reminding us that God’s vision and task are far bigger than anything we can accomplish in our own strength, and that only by walking closely with Jesus and persevering through all circumstances will we be radical disciples of Jesus.

Review by Ayman S. Ibrahim, Ph.D.

Bill and Connie Jenkins Associate Professor of Islamic Studies

Director, Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam

Carol Ghattas’ When Doors Close is a breath of fresh air for those serving beyond their comfort zones. From her decades of experience in Kingdom ministry in various contexts, Ghattas offers a much-needed encouragement for today’s workers. Compelling, practical, and full of hope, this book is like a balm in Gilead for every puzzled, discouraged, or distressed minister.

Review by Natalie* – friend and colleague, global worker among Muslims for over 30 years (*not her real name)

If you’ve ever questioned God’s sovereignty and good plans for your life, read this book!  Every chapter is like iron sharpening coffee visits combined with robust Bible study. When she was a little girl, Carol told God she’d join His mission. Little did she know she’d live in six different countries, marry her dream husband from Egypt, and give birth to her two sons in war-torn Beirut. She’s had many life-altering doors slammed shut in her face. In this book, she pulls back the curtain and shows us what it looks like to keep saying yes to our Master when nothing makes sense in the moment. 

Review by Jen* – Cross-cultural worker in a closed country (*not her real name)

When Doors Close touched on so many big issues and questions that, even now, cross my mind from time to time. Each chapter had at least one thing that touched on a specific question I’ve had while serving. I can’t speak for all millennials, but for those of us who want to learn from those who’ve gone before us this book is quite appealing.