The cover of the book Interwoven by Russ and Nancy Ebersole shows cloth intricately woven by Igorot women in the Philippines to illustrate the interweaving of the lives of Russ and Nancy.
Russ and his first wife, Gene, were married in 1950, and after graduate school spent ten years as missionaries in the Philippines. After battling cancer for three and a half years, Gene passed away, leaving Russ a widower with five children.
Nancy and her first husband, Harry, were married in 1957. He studied in seminary, and then they were led to work as missionaries in Bangladesh (East Pakistan at that time). After just two short years on the field, though, Harry became suddenly and seriously ill, and the Lord took him home in 1965, leaving Nancy a widow at 27 with three children.
Though a few threads of their lives had intersected before, four years later Russ and Nancy were led to each other, married, and blended their families together.
This book shares the testimonies of their early lives and that of their first spouses as well as how the Lord sustained them during loss, brought them together, and used them for many years afterward in various forms of service. Included are adventures such as the rescue of the family of Russ’s first wife, Gene, in the Philippines from the Japanese during WWII on the very morning they were scheduled to be executed in what “General Douglas MacArthur called…’the most thrilling rescue in all of American history'” and Russ and Nancy’s later being on a plane that was hijacked to China. Particularly poignant to me were the sections dealing with Gene’s response to cancer and Nancy’s adjustments as a young widow as well as many stories of the people they ministered to who became strong, fervent believers, some in spite of intense persecution. Some of the struggles and adjustments for the family after Russ and Nancy first married illustrate that missionaries are ordinary people with problems like everyone else would have, yet the Lord helped everyone to adjust and blend together over time. Woven into every part is God’s faithfulness and love.
Though a book like this is not meant to read like a novel, I did find the style just a little dry here and there, reading somewhat more like a report in places. But overall I can and do highly recommend this book.
(This review will be linked to Semicolon’s Saturday Review of Books.)