A twenty-two-year-old nurse—she refers to herself as a girl—entered the bombing-ravaged East London slums in the 1950s for, in her own words, “an adventure.” Worldly, conscious of style and appearance, often frivolous, and with no religion, she began serving those in need. There she found humanity behaving badly in desperate circumstances. And she observed the purest form of devotion among Christ’s followers.
Decades later, Jennifer (Lee) Worth wrote her Call the Midwife memoirs describing wretched settings and colorful characters. Her three books are NOT for children. I reacted in disgust and horror in many places. The author achieves a remarkably non-judgmental objectivity. And the young nurse received more than an adventure. Unexpected by herself, and this reader, hers was a spiritual journey.
Her story reminded me of myself at age twenty-two attempting Christian work in the inner-city. I did not observe the same degree of desperation and depravity as Ms. Worth. But I was exposed to as much as I could handle. Such experiences can and should change a person. Her factual books gave me the opportunity to re-tenderize my heart. I marveled at the depth of love and service possible in Christ.
Many of us are disappointed with the status of institutional Christianity and its role—or lack of a role depending on your perspective—in our country and world. I believe every professing follower of Jesus who reads these books, can move in the direction of pure and undefiled Christianity (paraphrase of James 1:27) that God will use.