Also by this author: The Promise, The Drummer Boy, Sinner, Green, The Dream Traveler's Quest, Into the Book of Light, The Curse of Shadownman, The Garden and the Serpent, The Final Judgment, Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion
Series: The Martyr's Song #2
Published by Thomas Nelson on May 2001
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense
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A thriller unlike any you have ever read. A love strong enough to bring a tremor to your bones. A sacrifice powerful enough to make heaven weep.
At the close of World War II, a shell-shocked solider, Jan Jovic, was forced to inflict a game of life and death on a peaceful Bosnian community. In a few short hours, this young man was confronted by more love—and hate—than most experience in a lifetime.
Years later, Jan has become a world-renowned writer with widespread influence in the United States, his past buried deep in his memory. Until, at the most inopportune time, the game Jan witnessed comes back to haunt him . . . and unwittingly leads him to a beautiful broken woman caught in an underworld of crime.
Jan must now defeat an evil rarely seen. But there is a price. One that even this war-scarred solider can’t imagine.
In the preface to The Heaven Trilogy, a 3-in-1 re-release that includes Heaven’s Wager and Thunder of Heaven, Dekker remarks that many readers—even those who aren’t fans of any of his other books—find When Heaven Weeps to be their favorite. As someone who has read every Dekker novel multiple times, I have to agree. Of all Ted’s books, When Heaven Weeps is the one I find myself returning to time and time again. While it isn’t his best-written or most-acclaimed, and while the pacing suffers at time, there’s a raw energy to When Heaven Weeps that compels readers to immerse themselves in the story.
It’s the mid-1960s and Jan Jovic is enjoying a new life in America. He has survived the war in Yugoslavia and written a book about his experiences, in particular, he’s written a book about an experience he had as a witness to intense suffering for the cause of Christ. It’s the story of a young girl named Nadia, a priest called Father Michael, and a murderous soldier named Karadzic. The book is wildly successful and Jovic is thrust into the realm of the “evangelical elite.”
Much like Heaven’s Wager, When Heaven Weeps is concerned about the allure of success and wealth. Dekker, a missionary kid turned successful businessman, is in some ways writing about himself—and almost presciently writing about his future writing career. Dekker also taps into the vapid veneer of the evangelical business machine, something he’s entering into by publishing in the Christian market. It’s a courageous move, but it’s a message that’s proved itself over and over again.
Almost by chance (so it seems), Jan crosses paths with Helen, a young drug addict trying to escape her abusive lover. Unfortunately for the both of them, Glenn Lutz is rich, powerful, and connected. I always envision Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin as a comparable analogue. He’ll stop at nothing to get Helen back, and Helen herself often feels compelled to get just one more hit.
When Heaven Weeps is, in reality, a retelling of the story of Hosea—and a much better retelling than Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, if we’re being honest. Jan becomes the picture of a God who loves the broken, and though a monster of their past may haunt them, though it might come at deep personal cost, though they continue to crawl back to their addiction and brokenness, that love will never fail. Through Helen, Jan learns to love the way Christ loves and comes to understand the things he wrote about in his book.
This love, of course, comes with the disapproval of the “evangelical elite,” endangering Jan’s wealth and success. It makes him the target of a wealthy and powerful man who is now bent on ruining both of them. It’s a story of a scandalous salvation that blends suspense and allegory into a compelling, page-turning novel. Ted has written better books, but the emotion and aura of When Heaven Weeps has yet to be matched. Twenty years after its publication, I have to say…this is my favorite.
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