Title: Exodus to a Hidden Valley
Author: Eugene Morse
Major Themes: Lisu People, Missionaries, Burmese, Survival
Synopsis: When the Morse family are forced to leave their home among the Lisu in Burma in late 1965, their only recourse is to escape to the jungle.
Two years ago, when I was living away from home helping friends, we happened to get on the subject of missionaries one evening. They started telling me about this book about missionaries in Burma who had to flee from the village they were serving in, and forge a life for themselves in the Himalayan jungle between Burma and India. I thought it sounded interesting, so I borrowed the book, and when I was describing it to Mom, she said, “Oh, that one! I’ve wanted to find a copy of that book to read to the family for quite a while!” Exodus to a Hidden Valley quickly became a family evening read-aloud, and even though it took quite a few months to get through it, we made it in the end. Everyone found it to be a fascinating, encouraging story.
The Morse family has been missionaries for many years now, and even though Eugene’s parents are in their 70s now, they’re still on the mission field, and just as determined as ever to play their part in fulfilling the great commission. Having worked among the Lisu people in northern Burma for many years, the Morses are shocked when, in late 1965, a government order comes through telling all foreigners to leave the country at once. Due to complications, however, there is no way the Morses will be able to obey the government mandate, so they decide their only recourse is to escape to the jungle. When they go, 5,000 Lisu go with them, and over the next six years, they make a new home for themselves in Hidden Valley, a valley once feared for its supposed demon possession.
Building homes for themselves, planting and harvesting crops, raising families, and building churches and schools…the Lisu and Morses were resourceful and courageous, trusting the Lord to provide for them. It wasn’t always easy; the Himalayan mountains were rugged, unforgiving territory, but with grit and determination, they made their life there in the place God had provided for them.
One of my favorite parts of Exodus to a Hidden Valley was seeing the way God can provide for us, even when life seems impossible. The way the Morse family approached missions was also inspiring—it was clear, throughout the whole book, that they relied on their Lisu brethren just as much, if not more, than the Lisu did on them. The Morses worked hard on the tasks they had—with their skills in doctoring, crop management, school teaching, Bible translation, and Bible training—but they also had great respect for the Lisu culture, and tried to learn from them, as well. This is an incredible story of people working together for the common good, both physically and spiritually. If you’re looking for a true story that has a side of adventure, this would be a great option.
WARNING: Several times, there are mentions that a valley was known to be haunted. Chapter 8 talks about spirit oppression and prayer that drove the demons out. There are mentions, here and there, of people having close scrapes or dying.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults