Pronunciation Guide

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Two words from Jesus change everything --- a review

A review of “Sent” by Hilary Alan
Written by Angie Grigaliunas

“Sent” is the riveting account of an upper-middle-class Christian family who left everything to go to Southeast Asia following the tsunami of 2004. Not for vacation, not for the experience, not to look holy or radical --- but, as author Hilary states many times throughout the book, because God told them to go. From the outside, this family had it all --- high-paying jobs, happy and healthy kids, a brand new house, fancy stuff to fill said house, lavish vacations, two new cars, and a great church. And inside, they felt like they had it all. Hilary starts off by saying that she was very happy with the life she had. Had it been up to her and her husband, Curt, they probably wouldn’t have changed anything.

…But God had other plans. And step by step, He began to get their attention. He took them from content (though never fully satisfied), to wanting something more; from living for themselves (under the guise of being good, involved Christians)…to living for something far greater. From striving for the advancement of their own little kingdom…to laying everything aside for the advancement of His. The change in each person is evident throughout the book, and a beautiful testimony of what God can do with a willing heart.

I knew nothing about this family or their story going into this, so I had no preconceived notions or ideas. Once I began reading, I devoured this book in a matter of hours. Hilary starts by describing the tsunami, then details what was going on in her family’s lives when it happened. And how God used the tsunami to, as Hilary puts it, “reverse the trajectory” of their lives.

While much of the story deals with things that happened during their three years in Southeast Asia, a lot of it also relays Hilary’s faith journey. I related a lot to her struggles to let go of her idea of success, of control (or, rather, the illusion of it), of her own plans, and of her husband and two children. Her steadfast respect for her husband was inspiring, and her own honesty refreshing. Throughout the book, she makes it clear that she and her family were and are nothing special. They heard a call from God, answered the call the only way one truly can, and were obedient to the call. But in the midst of it all, they were human. She never tries to come off like it was easy, or that once they made the decision to go, there was no opposition or doubt. They struggled over whether or not they’d made the right decision, over whether their kids would be hurt by the cross-world move, over what people would think, over God not answering prayers as they thought He should, over the pain and devastation they encountered.

One of the things I loved about this book is how Hilary and her family didn’t really seem to go into Southeast Asia to mass-evangelize the place. Their focus remained on cultivating relationships with the villagers…sharing the gospel with them through loving them…and they did that. One of the most touching stories Hilary shares is how a friend, Lee, comforted another girl in the midst of devastating loss. When Hilary thanked Lee for her compassion, Lee said that the Alan’s and their group had shown her how to love, and that she “…wanted to do for her what you all did for me.”

There were not a lot of details given as to the nature of the ministry work the Alan’s were doing, or where exactly they were doing it. One of the things that sucked me into the book was the broad description “Southeast Asia”. I wanted to know where in Southeast Asia, precisely, because I am anal about things like that. I was a ways into the book before I realized that Hilary wasn’t going to say where. That was slightly disappointing, but I got the impression that it wouldn’t be safe to announce it. That, and a bit of repetitiveness throughout, kind of bothered me…but I got over it.

To be honest, this book makes me love God more. Seeing how He fit everything in the Alan’s lives together…how Hilary and Curt’s pasts made them the exact right people for what God called them to do…seeing how much they struggled and how faithful and patient He was with them…it was just incredible. At the end of the first chapter, Hilary states a familiar quote --- that God does not call the equipped; He equips the called. Their story is definitely living proof of that. And it is such a beautiful testimony.

I highly recommend this book. It will encourage you, make you tear up (if you are anything like me), and challenge you to put your own “yes” on the table. And to see where God takes you.

Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. This is my opinion only.

Read the first chapter here:

More information here:


  1. Sounds like an interesting book. I will check it out.

  2. Awesome review! Thanks for your thoughts on this book.

    Just wanted to share...

    I have numerous book giveaways going on at my site if you want to enter.

    Also, I am putting together a "Best of Books" Blog Hop to share the books you loved the most in 2013. You can click here for more info and to sign up.

    Have a great weekend!
    Diane :)