I’m moved by deep human emotion…the sharp, welcome ache of love, a painful cry of loss, and the shocking strength of faith in life’s tenuous situations. I was unable to look away from the joyous smile on the man’s face – or the tender touch of the darker, long-fingered hand on his cheek – that graces the cover of Unshaken. What occurred in the darkness of the hotel’s rubble that lit this man’s soul with such transparent joy? What had these two men been through to create the emotional bond they shared?
Unshaken is the real-life account of Dan Woolley, a website developer for Compassion International, a Christian child development ministry that works to help children out of spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty. Compassion serves more than one million children in 25 countries world-wide, and Dan was in Haiti capturing images of the children and mothers who needed sponsors and support. Dan was staying at the Hotel Montana and had just entered the building when the deadly earthquake struck, eventually killing an estimated 230,000 people.
Dan’s agonizing, faith-filled experience under the hotel’s ruins - with rescue unbelievably close but never guaranteed – created an unforgettable reading experience. I tasted the dust, felt the strong aftershocks, and found myself shaking with frustration at thwarted, chaotic rescue attempts. I mourned the loss of life within the hotel’s crushed walls even as I urged Dan to hold on a few more hours. I cried with him as he wrote goodbye letters to his wife and two little boys, letters smeared with his blood but written in desperate love. I also rejoiced as the light – and love - of Jesus was shared under 6 stories of demolished rubble.
Unshaken volleys back and forth between the life-and-death struggle Dan Woolley faced for nearly 65 hours under 6 stories of broken hotel in January 2010, and the precarious first years of marriage to his wife, Christy. With brave honesty, Christy and Dan share about the debilitating disease that affected her life and shaped their marriage. Throughout the fast-paced story Dan and Christy recount a faith in God that ties their marriage together, not necessarily neatly, but securely and with enduring love that carries over from one earthquake to another.
Unshaken is a timely reminder of the power of love: the love of our Savior Jesus, who died for each and every person, regardless of age, skin color, economic status, or location in the world; the love between a husband and wife who realize they’re at their best when they’re together; and the love between God and His creation, whom He never lets out of His hand, even under 6 stories of collapsed rubble and isolating darkness. Dan and Christy’s inspiring story serves as a reminder that we’re not to trail carefully after God in this lifetime, but instead run full-force toward our Savior each moment we’re blessed with.
If you’re looking for a faith-affirming and emotion-charged read, I highly recommend Unshaken.