Complete in Him: a review
A story not just of someone's life, but more - offering hospitality, the hospitality of God to others, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves
Complete in Him: Finding Hope in Disability and Child Loss
By Chizor Akisanya
Reviewed by: Shaun Lambert
When I met Chizor Akisanya at the church buildings of Jesus House, a large multi-ethnic church in London, I was struck immediately by her hospitality. I was also moved by her curiosity about my story – even though we were there to talk about her story.
Chizor is a community leader, wife and mother who originally trained to be a lawyer but is now the general manager of Jesus House. She has written a new book called Complete in Him: Finding Hope in Disability and Child Loss, and it is the story of her life. But it is more than that; it is about offering hospitality, the hospitality of God to others, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
It was fascinating to both hear some of her story as we spoke, as well as read it in the book. I had heard good things about the book from others, and the book tells Chizor’s story of growing up in Nigeria and moving to England. I have many members in my church from Nigeria and, like Jesus House, we are seeking to be a multi-ethnic community and a learning community that is culturally intelligent.
The book mirrors the person, and there is a congruence and resonance between Chizor and her writing. It is a vulnerable book that challenges cultural norms with biblical grace and hospitality as she talks about being born with and living with a disability – and the stigma that she has overcome in that. But it doesn’t stop with her story; she is passionately helping others overcome stigma in their lives, and doing it with dignity, grace and truth. She is doing it through the power of story.
When I started reading the book I was immediately drawn into the narrative and couldn’t put it down. It is well written and crafted, and I was not surprised to hear that Chizor had been on a number of writing courses to hone her skills. It is clear in the book that these skills have been used in the service of God in terms of telling her story – to encourage others rather than for self-promotion.
In particular, her story is about the challenge of finding her true value – and how an encounter with Jesus put her on the path to realising that she is complete in Him. Although Chizor is a private person, she has felt led to share her ‘wounds’ for the benefit of others (Philippians 2:4).
The book is full of wise and careful reflection. Chizor has observed the issues of disability and child loss in the cultures around her and speaks beautifully into these situations – drawing on her own experiences but not limiting her reflections to these. She talks about the challenges and joys of marriage, motherhood, work and ministry. This is a book that is accessible to all Christians and helpful to leaders, and will also speak into the lives of those who might not have a relationship with God. I commend it to all!
Shaun Lambert is an author and the minister of Stanmore Baptist Church in Middlesex