post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Totally Surrounded
Author: Christina di Stefano Davis
Series: International Adventures
Major Themes: Missionaries, Philippines
Synopsis: When God gave her a heart for unreached people, Christina di Stefano went to the Philippines for two weeks—and ended up staying for six years!
I first came across the International Adventures books many years ago, back when I was running a bookstore. I liked them at the time and now, some 25 years later, when I’m rereading them, I’m finding them just as good. Christina’s story is challenging and inspiring.
Christina grew up in a family at war with each other. Her parents were constantly fighting while the children hid, until one day things came to a head and the family was torn apart. Christina frequently skipped class all through high school, until her last few months when she was told she could graduate if she met some stringent requirements and went to college afterward. She made it to college, where she met a lovely young woman who introduced her to Jesus. Christina’s life was never the same after that, and her heart was soon turned towards the unreached of the world.
One of Christina’s professors suggested that she take a short-term missions trip. When a missionary in the Philippines asked for help, she went there for a two-week trip—which stretched into months and then, finally, six years! Soon after arriving in the Philippines, Christina went to the home of a new friend, who she soon led to Christ, and through the friend’s family was able to go much farther from the city, to a small village where no one knew about Jesus. She ended up staying in that area and teaching people about the Lord, discipling them and helping them to grow in their new faith, for a number of years, until the communist army became too threatening and she had to leave suddenly. Her ministry in the Philippines was not over, however, even though she herself was not there! You’ll have to read the book to find out what she did later.
One passage I particularly appreciated talked about God leading us one step at a time. “He sees the whole picture and how every simple step of obedience on our part keeps us on the path He has prepared for us.”
I strongly recommend Totally Surrounded for anyone who wants to know more about walking with Jesus, or is interested in missions. This is a great story of a life surrendered to Jesus, even when totally surrounded by enemies.