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Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Courtney gives an honest, and at times poignant, account of his efforts to establish the Preemptive Love Coalition in Iraq, whose aim is to save children with life-threatening heart defects by selling klash, a locally made Kurdish shoe. He describes transporting patients to Israel and Turkey while under a fatwa calling for his death and while subjected to assiduous surveillance. Courtney relates his riveting story through the inner thoughts of both patients and adversaries, describing events like the chemical bombing of Halabja and the attack of a roadside bomber from a personal perspective. The narrative flattens when it drifts away from storytelling to point making, but these small moments are more than amply compensated for by Courtney's own self-deprecating admission that, Knowing me, my tone was unbearably sanctimonious. Ending with the building of the Remedy Mission, which allows children to receive life-saving surgery in Iraq, this true story of people coming together to live the doctrine of love first, ask questions later by building bridges and saving lives is powerfully inspiring, touching, and, unfortunately, urgently relevant. Agent: Chris Ferebee, Yates & Yates. (Oct.)
“This is a wonderful book with a powerful, time-tested message: love wins. But Jeremy Courtney and his wife aren’t just writing about love in theory or theology. They are showing us all the power of God’s love in practice evidenced through the love of His people for others very different than themselves. As a former US diplomat and Ivy League professor I highly recommend this book. But more importantly, as a human being looking for God’s love in this war-torn and weary world, I thank God for this book.” —The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton, author of national bestseller Be a Better Dad Today (The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton, author of national bestseller Be a Better Dad Today)
“Jeremy Courtney weaves the compelling, true story of grace in the midst of violence! He and his colleagues risk touching the pain of Iraqi children plagued by heart defects and their families who scramble to get care for them. They all risk betrayal in order to achieve healing. In the process, they discover opportunities for releasing love and hope into a torn world.” —Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, founder of Nuns on the Bus (Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, founder of Nuns on the Bus)
“Preemptive Love is a beautiful and inspiring book about the power of love in a time of war, and the capacity of personal interactions, based on love, to break through all the geopolitical strategizing and local suspicions to build trust and, in the case of Jeremy and Jessica Courtney, to save lives.” —Joseph Lieberman, former US Senator, author of The Gift of Rest (Joseph Lieberman, former US Senator, author of The Gift of Rest)
“Jeremy Courtney's story, and that of the Preemptive Love Coalition, will help you redefine and reimagine what love really means. Preemptive Love will inspire you to dream of a love that risks everything. It is the kind of story and radical surrender the world is longing to see in those who profess to love like Jesus.” —Ken Wytsma, founder of The Justice Conference, author of Pursuing Justice, president of Kilns College (Ken Wytsma, founder of The Justice Conference, author of Pursuing Justice, president of Kilns College)
“Compelling! While the rest of us fold our arms and complain about the situation in the Middle East, Courtney proves that one family can begin an avalanche of change.” —Leigh Saxon, coordinator of Mission Waco/Mission World Health Clinic (Leigh Saxon, coordinator of Mission Waco/Mission World Health Clinic)
“I'm a cynic. I have to be in my line of work. But the world of cynicism isn't one in which Jeremy and Jessica inhabit. And Iraq's broken children are all the better for it. . . . I am also a die-hard agnostic. And while Courtney writes of his faith as a powerful motivating factor in what he does, he doesn't preach. This is just one man's journey, told from the heart. What Preemptive Love is, above all else, is a book of adventure, tragedy, suffering and hope, and the incredible and indomitable power of human compassion. . . . A thoroughly gripping and moving tale of what motivates one group of people to help the children who suffered the most in Iraq.” —Alex Hannaford, journalist (GQ, The Atlantic, Esquire); author, Last of the Rock Romantics (Alex Hannaford, journalist (GQ, The Atlantic, Esquire); author, Last of the Rock Romantics)
“In Preemptive Love, Courtney deftly chronicles his journey to help children obtain life-saving surgeries in battered regions where hospitals had long been gutted and clinics closed. In the process, he finds that his family’s strategy of defeating hate and prejudice with unconditional love heals hearts beyond the ones he set out to fix. Courtney’s moving story gives us some of the best news to come out of Iraq in ages.” —Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times (Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times)
“Jeremy Courtney is doing some of the most redemptive work on the planet, providing life-saving surgeries for Iraqi children. Their motto, ‘Love now, and ask questions later,’ is a brilliant critique of preemptive war. Jeremy has become a close friend over the years, and many of us have been waiting for this book like kids on Christmas morning. From TED talks,to megachurches, to Congress and the UN, Jeremy's message that 'Violence unmakes the world, and love remakes it' has been transforming hearts and minds. Now that message is in your hands. Share it with the world.” —Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and preemptive lover, www.thesimpleway (Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and preemptive lover, www.thesimpleway)
“Preemptive Love is a story of caring for and bringing healing to those who have suffered violence and war. Jeremy Courtney clearly identifies the need for compassion and forgiveness; spreading this message is his mission. He has shown his love and generosity to many of Iraq's neediest children. Jeremy is moved by faith and acts with grace and love.” —Imam Mohamed Magid, Imam of ADAMS Center Virginia and President of Islamic Society of North America (Imam Mohamed Magid, Imam of ADAMS Center Virginia and President of Islamic Society of North America)
“The story of Preemptive Love is so awe-inspiringly powerful it could rewrite the hardwiring that holds humanity hostage. Our perpetual fears and resulting violence stunt evolution; we are a primitive species, still. But Jeremy and his Preemptive Love cohorts are lights revealing humanity's greater, true self. As living, breathing examples of agape they raze the walls that blind and divide us.” —Greg Barrett, journalist and author (Greg Barrett, journalist and author)
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It is a truly magnificent work, with the potential to make better Christians of us all.
Jeremy is the graduate of a small Christian university where I was president for a dozen years. Sadly, I was present there, in a post-presidential role, for but two years of his pilgrimage. I so wish I could have known him better. Despite our paths crossing only occasionally during that time, I sensed uncommon passion for Christ, unending commitment and wisdom beyond his years. How great it is that he found his life mate there. For such a powerful calling, a man must be equally yoked, and Jessica's vision and commitment to the journey are evident.
I think often of graduates of our little school who do well, perhaps in ordinary pursuits in non-descript places. They, too, serve. And so do giants, like Jeremy and Jessica, who push limits to the very edge, knowing that Christ's landing net provides ultimate security to all--particularly so for those who love their enemies.
Being involved in global health and also living and studying in the Middle East, I have read many accounts both scholarly and popular dealing with aid work in this region and elsewhere. Courtney's Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time is one of the best, striking a balance rarely found in the medical or aid-memoir genre. The book follows the founding and early life of The Preemptive Love Coalition, a medical development organization committed to Iraqi children with congenital heart disease--birth defects of the heart. The writing is incredibly intimate and real, but provides the right amount of opportunity and prompting for the reader to reflect on the larger implications of the author's engrossing stories. The cycles of renewal playing out in the book as damaged friendships and defective hearts are remade through what the author calls "preemptive love" draw us into a broader discussion--can whole communities, even whole worlds, be made new through loving first and asking questions later?
The author rarely steps onto soapboxes during the book, but when he does the arguments are naked and honest. Any point-making taking place clearly has an origin in the stories being told, again a refreshing inversion in a genre where anecdotes are often used as emotional levers for a precommitted position.
I struggle to find any one "group" to recommend this book to. For scholars of aid/development work and of the Middle East this book will no doubt raise more questions, but it will also help to anchor their work in real lives and real stories. For young people, students, or learners this book will excite and motivate as much as it challenges. For nearly everyone else, the book will offer a powerful glimpse into a country often in the news for violence and destruction, but rarely for healing and peacemaking. This book will be the substrate for many discussions on Iraq, medical development, peacemaking, and loving our neighbors near and far. Though Preemptive Love is a small, humbly written book, I have no doubt many who read it will come away changed in some way.