Running from scandal – in her family, church and community life – Susan moves from California to China. At first, the adventure of experiencing an exotic culture brings the escape she craves. Gradually, as the layers of mystery and reserve fall away, she gets to know her new Chinese friends on deeper levels. At the same time the self-protective layers around her own heart peel back painfully, exposing her inner brokenness.
In this vivid and transparent memoir, Susan takes us on a fascinating journey into the streets and homes of modern China. The travel memoir is interspersed with Susan’s personal story of emotional and spiritual sabotage, shame and shattered dreams. It all comes together as she opens her heart anew to God’s love – the most scandalous love of all.
Susan Elaine Jenkins accepts a 2-year position teaching in China. Fourteen years later, she remains there. Having grown up in California, the daughter of a pastor turned gambling addict, surviving a marriage in which intimacy is rare, and violence is not, and then victimized by the pastor she respected, there were many scandalous scars packed up in the suitcase when she boarded that airplane. Fortunately for us, she kept many journals of her experiences. It is those journals that would become this book.
In Scandalon, Susan interweaves her stories of scandal with the culture of the Chinese people she encounters. During her time in China, she is able to peel back the layers of pain, guilt, shame, and anger to reveal a relationship with God that has sustained her all along, even when she didn’t feel Him.
You will feel many emotions while reading this book. My own ranged from anger to sorrow to sadness and back to anger. And finally to joy. I shed tears. Real tears. Several times.
The author is candid in her descriptions of the happenings in her life, without being terribly graphic. The subject matter is very much adult in theme, however. It is for that reason, I would not recommend it for teenage girls.
This book will have great appeal to anyone who has suffered greatly at the hands of the world and found love and forgiveness in the arms of a God who never leaves us. And who of us doesn’t fit that description?