Review: One Million Arrows

Julie Ferwerda, the author of One Million Arrows: Raising Your Children To Change The World (Winepress Publishing, 2009), wants to inspire you to hit the parenting bulls’ eye as you raise your children to be spiritual champions. Motivated by both the work and message of her mentor, M.A. Thomas, and her deep desire to see her teen children take ownership of their faith, Ferwerda pulled together a self-published book filled with stories designed to motivate parents to aim at a higher purpose in their parenting:

“The mission is not just about working as a full-time missionary, but about accepting a part of a bigger story where there is a battle being waged between lies and truth; between destruction and redemption; between darkness and light; between death and life; where ultimately goodness and love prevail. God has written an individual part for each of us in this story; and this part is our mission. It’s a job for arrows because, without arrows, the battle cannot be won, and the mission can not be accomplished.”

Some of the stories are v-e-r-y familiar to those in the evangelical subculture: Tim Tebow; Josh, Alex and Brett Harris; others were collected by Ferwerda as she surveyed the world-changers she discovered in her life. The portrait with the most impact in the book was that of her beloved mentor, the man she (and hundreds of others in India) call Papa. His pastoral letter in the appendix section of the book summarized the book’s message in a winsome, heartfelt way. 

The book is sprinkled with pithy advice (consider home schooling, fast for your kids) and is meant to challenge young parents to think and pray beyond trips to the mall and soccer/ballet practice. Good goal. Ferwerda expresses it clearly.

But this is the same message we heard at every home school conference we ever attended, every Christian parenting book I read as we raised our children, the kind of prayer we (and many friends of ours) would pray for our kids. One Million Arrows reads as a distillation of most of the popular Christian parenting formulas packaged as guarantees and dispensed to hopeful moms and dads. The book is sorely lacking a balancing and honest discussion of how to parent children who struggle, doubt, rebel or simply don’t believe. (If you’re one of those parents, please check out this article in the January, 2010 issue of Christianity Today.) If you faithfully do the things suggested in the book and your children aren’t spiritual champions at 18 or 21, have you failed as a parent? Have your kids failed? Though Ferwerda writes with enthusiasm and a good measure of grace, I wonder if some will walk away from the book and feel like a handful of those one million arrows were aimed at them.

Recommended to the young parents who need their vision expanded – as long as they are willing to prayerfully take the info to God and ask Him to show them what His vision is (and isn’t) for their own family.

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