And Now...A Review

This is a review of The Bible and the Axe by William O. Levi. The review is written by my mother, who goes by 'Mutti' on this site, who read the book in what had to have been record time. Here are her thoughts on  the book. Enjoy!

You would think, post 9/11, that reading a book about the grisly persecution and systematic genocide of Sudanese Christians at the hands of Islam would create more anger and a desire for vengeance and retaliation. On the contrary. I was deeply moved, blessed and encouraged by William O. Levi’s story. I could not put this book down. Each chapter left me wanting more of the book and more of the kind of courage these precious Sudanese Christians possess. They live the Scriptures and take the Great Commission seriously in the face of grave danger, persecution, torture and death. It is impossible to read this book and not have your heart knit together with fellow believers in Africa.

William O. Levi narrates a compelling story of his life beginning in the early 1960's in South Sudan. He begins in the first chapter with a panoramic history of his homeland from the dawn of creation to the present, presenting a rich tapestry of God’s hand in the very cradle of civilization.

William’s heritage is that of an African Hebrew tribal group whose roots go as far back as the Levites in the Old Testament. He was raised as a Messianic Jew in a community that was well aware of the importance of their lineage and the call to the Great Commission.

What I found helpful was getting a history lesson of the Sudan from his point of view, which gave a very different opinion from those who decry “western imperialism”. When the British actually left under the growing global pressure to withdraw, it left a vacuum which was filled with civil war between Northern and Southern Sudan, political unrest and a return to slavery by the Arabs. Southern Sudan, which was predominately African and Christian, began to be dominated by Northern Sudan, which was Arab and Muslim. Living in Southern Sudan became so dangerous, that in 1965, William’s family moved into the wilderness/jungle of Mount Ambuluwa, Uganda, which is where all his memories are of growing up.

The contrast of raising children in this African community is a far cry from raising children in the suburbs of America.  Everyone in the family had a responsibility, from chores around the farms,  being a shepherd, building houses, barns, fences, and so on. They had no electricity, no power tools, nails, or cars. Everything was done by hand. As young as seven, William was allotted the task of watching his family’s sheep.  Street savvy kids here in the U.S. have nothing on a seven-year-old who is savvy in the ways of the African wilderness: avoiding pythons who could crush a small boy within minutes, hyenas who would consider little William a delicacy, not to mention the more obvious threats such as lions, crocodiles and leopards.

At the at the age of thirteen, he was baptized in the Kulo-jobi River by his grandfather, Reverend Andrew Vuni.  Prior to baptism, Pastor Vuni asked the small class of baptismal students, “Who can name our enemy?” 

“The Muslims of Khartoum are our enemies. They would like to drive Christians far from this country,” was the reply.

“No, you are wrong,” his grandfather spoke sharply. “Don’t  you understand? Our enemy is not human...Satan is our enemy. He blinds the eyes of the Muslim to the gospel message..but greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Praise God! Satan can kill our bodies, but he can never devour our souls in hell.”

It was there at the waters of baptism that his grandfather held out a Bible in one hand and an axe in the other with the question: “When your enemy comes to destroy you, which weapon will you choose? The Bible or the axe?”  William chose the Bible, and from that moment on every step in his life would be based upon that decision.

The fall of Idi Amin from power spelled disaster for Sudanese refugees in Uganda. His family moved back to the Sudan in order to save their lives. Unrest was brewing in the Islamic community, shari’a law was passed placing everyone under strict Muslim laws.  Their freedoms began to erode, and there was a rise in the number of amputees as a result. It was during this time that William had been arrested with two of his teenage friends and was tortured by Muslims. It was either accept Islam or the torture would continue. He would not give in, and after several weeks he was set free.

William’s greatest desire was to get an education so that he could help his own people in the Sudan. As doors began to close he was faced with his only option: escape certain death in Sudan and flee into Egypt. At times hair-raising and oppressive, his journey continued with miraculous encounters along the way.

It was a divine appointment that led him to Cairo and he met Michael G. of Massachusetts. Michael became an advocate for William in obtaining a Turkish visa for him. When parting company with William, Michael gave him his U.S. phone number, which would also prove to be God’s Hand when William eventually came to the U.S. Michael’s willingness to help a total stranger is a powerful encouragement; when we as believers allow God to use us even in the most innocuous situations, we never know we might be responsible for the birth of a global ministry. Michael G. from Massachusetts, you are an example of this.

Another chance encounter with a Muslim named Ahmet gives William the opportunity to contrast Christianity with the five pillars of Islam in a simple but profound way.


Shahada for Christians is a prayer of Jesus: Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”   

Salat is the Muslim call to prayer five-times a day; for Christians it is 24/7. We “pray without ceasing.”


Zukat and sawm, almsgiving and fasting, is also practiced in Christianity. But Jesus said the greatest law is to “Love God with all your heart and to love others as ourselves.”    

Hajj, is the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca; for the Christian it is not a specific place on the globe, but everywhere, all the time, because God’s Spirit lives inside of us. Our bodies are His temple.

This comparison made sense to Ahmet; each pillar in Islam was dependant upon the physical; the counterpart in Christianity were spiritual. Islam puts the responsibility solely upon man’s human strength; in Christianity, our dependence is solely upon Christ and His strength.

The final chapters in the book recount his journey to the United States of America, his university experience, the many ways God teaches William to rely solely on Him. It chronicles his becoming a part of a Messianic community, then the fruition of his dream: to begin a ministry to his homeland, the Sudan.

Disclaimer: We are not financially compensated for these reviews. The book was provided by Mind & Media for the purpose of review only. If you are interested in becoming a reviewer for Mind & Media, click on their link and sign up! :) It's that easy.

Posted by Portia at August 26, 2005 02:13 PM | TrackBack

Fascinating, I'll have to pick it up and read it now, well over Christmas break when I won't be reading for my masters courses.

Posted by: the Pirate at August 26, 2005 03:42 PM

What is going on with you? We need to catch up-when can you have lunch?

Posted by: Kelly at August 29, 2005 01:35 PM