Plot/Idea: This work chronicles the author's courageous and sometimes harrowing adventures as a Bible smuggler during the Cold War. There is much here to engage the reader as the story unfolds.
Prose: This is a beautifully-written work; the author demonstrates a strong command of language, pacing, and storytelling.
Originality: This is a highly original work that vividly captures the author's unique circumstances.
Character/Execution: The author does a fine job of elucidating the reasons she and her husband are called to smuggle Bibles to individuals living behind the Iron Curtain, while also offering insight into the historical era.
Date Submitted: October 09, 2022
Kendrick’s stories are gripping, full of close calls (including the opening anecdote in which a Soviet officer discovers a hidden recorder in Kendrick’s purse) and some disappointments, such as being turned back within the Soviet Union after attempting a short cut. Maps of the places where the Kendricks journeyed as well as diagrams of how the smuggling occurred will help to orient readers, while offering the thrill of revealing possibly still-sensitive trade secrets. Christian readers will be encouraged by Kendrick’s reliance on scripture for comfort in difficult situations (“God’s peace filled me and as we proceeded, I was amazingly relaxed,” she writes), and the appendix containing “Scripture References for Battling Fear” will prove a welcome resource.
Kendrick keeps the focus on—and directs the glory to—the Eastern bloc Christians they served by providing Bibles and, periodically, financial help, men and women whom she insists took even more risks for their beliefs than she and her husband did. The Kendricks’s story—and their faith—will inspire readers while staying relatable and humble: Kendrick shares honest incidents of marital tension, reveals difficult travel moments and physical ailments, confesses to deep loneliness, and relates anxious encounters with authority. Christian readers seeking motivation in difficult ministry, or simply searching for an exciting faith-based memoir, will find this an uplifting read.
Takeaway: Christians looking for an inspiring, suspenseful real-life story will find much to love this Cold War memoir.
Great for fans of: Richard Wurmbrand’s Tortured for Christ, Haralan Popov’s Tortured for His Faith.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-
“FROM THE DAYS OF TYNDALE TILL TODAY BIBLE smuggling has been controversial as well as dangerous. Not many people are brave enough to venture into this often-perilous calling. My father Haralan Popov always said, ‘A Bible brought into Communist lands, is like a bullet in the heart of Satan.’ Jeana Kendrick and her husband realized that while the Cold War was raging between the Judeo Christian world and the humanistic atheistic world of Marxism, the battle could best be fought by changing the hearts and minds of people rather than by military confrontation. Their interesting and well-written story is a story of success in which they witnessed the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.”
⸺Door of Hope International President Paul Popov
"This could pass for well-crafted work of suspense fiction, except that every word is fact. In this story the reader cannot avoid unearthing a stark personal truth that is basic to survival."
— Dr. Guida Jackson, author of Traditional Epics, Woman Who Ruled in many other books
"Taunt, well written, and insightful, Kendrick's memoir shares first-hand knowledge of what it was like for Christians during the Iron Curtain era. Young and idealistic, she and her husband Jeff joined Door of Hope international and embarked on a thirteen-year journey to smuggle banned Bibles into Russian held territories. Fraught with danger, fear of discovery, and life-threatening experiences, her faith in her Savior provided the courage to continue the quest. Times were not always grim for she recounts many amusing experiences in chapters that could stand alone. I would recommend this memoir to everyone, no matter which religion or non-religion they adhere to, for it imparts an understanding of what it's like, to be persecuted for worshiping as one pleases, and for those who have the courage to stand up for that right."
— Jacqueline Pelham, author of Under The Rose and a Promise To Die For and other books
Memoirs of a Bible Smuggler is the true story of Jeana Kendrick and her experience smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Kendrick recalls the emotional highs and lows of this period. Fearing exposure and death, Jeana discusses these experiences and the experience of maintaining faith in order to serve God and protect Christianity.At the core, this is an uplifting story about overcoming and maintaining faith during a difficult time. I’ll probably never go through anything in my life that is as terrifying as smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe during the Cold War, but the emotions, faith, and drive to help others was relatable and heartwarming. I appreciated the candid nature with which the story is told. The story really puts you in the authors mind during that time, exploring the events as she saw them.While this is a story based in history, this is more of a memoir that takes us through the life of a Texas housewife that’s called to serve during a harrowing time. Smuggling bibles was an idea that was new to me. But author Jeana Kendrick opens readers minds to thing others seldom, if ever, experience, and shares some profound and emotional moments. Her ability to keep the faith through it all is inspiring.While I would have appreciated more historical context, Memoirs of a Bible Smuggler is still a riveting account of one person making a difference in a dangerous world. For any readers that need a powerful story about maintaining faith while facing adversity, or for anyone who wants to read a stirring memoir of an average person doing extraordinary things, then Jeana Kendricks memoir is perfect for you. This is a short but potent story that shows the power and importance of missionary work.