Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, November 02, 2009

Faith Among Shadows

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do a book signing at the grand opening of the new Ogden Deseret Book store. I was actually pretty excited to see the new store (which is incredible!) and to chat with Jason Wright (who is also pretty incredible!) But as I arrived at the store, I noticed a man in a dark suit who had attracted quite a circle of people. Easing toward the crowd, I heard a tale that at first sounded like a new LDS fiction title. It involved international military. snipers, near-death, and ultimately conversion.

Then I realized that this wasn't fiction at all. In fact, it was the true-life story of the man telling it. This was my introduction to Malcolm Leal. Of course I bought the book, Faith Among Shadows, and took it home to read at once. Several things struck me as I read what could easily have passed for fiction, but is completely true. First, how the spirit can reach us in some of the most unexpected circumstances--like seeing the missionaries for the first time through the scope of a sniper rifle, or feeling the touch of God while close to death from a bullet to the head. We are never far away from the Sprit if we let it touch us. Second was that this is truly an incredibly well written book. My understanding is that Malcolm first self-published this, and then it was picked up by Cedar Fort. Yay for them. This is a work that definitely needs more exposure.

Malcolm says this is the only book he will write, but with this kind of skill, I hope he's wrong. Here is the synopsis of the book.

Cuba remains and dark and inscrutable country that has made 10 million of its citizens prisoners, cut off from the outside world for more than 40 years. In Cuba, religion and tradition fuse in a mix of superstitions rooted in history. For the average Cuban, God is just an abstraction. For all practical purposes, in Cuba today, there is no God or religion.

Bur for Florencia, it is quite different. She has found “her” God in the pages of a battered Bible left behind a century ago by unknown hands. She has come to know God, to trust Him, and to rely on Him for everything. Florencia cares for her family in a small fishing village on the north coast of Cuba. She teaches her great-grandson Malcolm about faith and her God, while opening his young mind to truths that seem incomprehensible to everyone else.

Florencia speaks with longing about the Temple “promised to all people” in the writing of Isaiah, and about the need to find “men that walk with God like unto Moses.” She unfolds for him the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pointing out that there is no church as described in the Bible anywhere in Cuba. She recounts her fruitless trip to Israel in 1949 in search of temples and prophets. She returned sad and disappointed but her faith never wavered. She knows that truth lives elsewhere and that, with faith, her grandson will someday find this truth.

Malcolm joins the Cuban military at age 17 is thrust into the Central American Civil War of the 1980s as a Cuban military intelligence officer. There he comes face-to-face with unimaginable carnage and destruction, all before he is 21 years old. He sees his friends die again and again and wonders why the God of his grandmother spares him continually. As a special operations unit, they train insurgents, smuggle weapons, supplies and people across the world. They play a deadly cat and mouse game eluding the CIA counter-insurgency hunter force for seven years in the jungles of Central and South America.

War takes him across 3 continents and 27 countries in covert operations. Among the death and destruction of war he also finds ruins of magnificent beauty buried in the Amazon jungle, rivers like oceans and remnants of civilizations all but forgotten. On a quiet afternoon in the highlands of Guatemala, across the viewfinder of his sniper rifle, he sees the white shirts and ties of young men said to preach of Jesus to the natives. He marvels at the insanity or heart felt dedication of these barely-more than children. The memory of this chance encounter will linger for years in Malcolm’s mind.

Malcolm survives several gun shot injuries, a helicopter crash, a boat accident, and a sniper’s bullet. His search for freedom and the God of his grandmother will bring him to America and the truth she often spoke of when he discovers the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Malcolm's blog is here

Here is a link to order the book from Cedar Fort


At 11/02/2009 7:37 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

What an amazing story! I'm so glad it got picked up. It definitely deserves more exposure.

At 11/02/2009 9:27 PM, Blogger Josi said...

I had the chance to sign with Malcolm the next day, he had very nice things to say about you, Jeff, and I bought the book as well. I finished it just a couple days ago and was equally impressed with the story. Great review.

At 11/03/2009 3:45 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Sounds like a fascinating story!

At 11/04/2009 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the book and had a chance to hear Malcolm speak at a fireside in Gilbert Arizona some weeks ago. This is likely one of the most powerful stories of conversion published in quite some time.

At 11/05/2009 7:26 AM, Blogger Delly News Blog said...

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At 11/05/2009 3:50 PM, Blogger travelplannersjd said...

Malcolm's book and himself are both amazing. We love him and have him in our home to stay while he is in Utah..He is so humble and full of the spirit. You must read his book and go to any of his Firesides. You will never, never, be the same. Judie Diamond

At 11/06/2009 2:40 AM, Anonymous Raul said...

I had a chance to read the book and quickly became captivated by the story. It was hard to put the book down. The intense story also shares a sweet spirit.

The description of Malcolm's relationship with his grandmother and the true teachings of the Gospel that were shared by her are the lessons he shares today with all.

The amazing story of survival and faith are enough to stir all kinds of emotions in my soul. A message of hope and faith for all no matter what my individual conditions are.

At 11/06/2009 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The story is amazing. I would have loved to have met his grandmother. If you think the book is need to hear him tell the story in a fireside. Truly amazing.

Highly recommend for anyone to read his book Faith Among Shadows.

At 11/07/2009 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I met Malcolm at Costco in AZ in the summer at Costco at a book signing. He described the story in a very simple and humble way. We read every night for 4 nights until very-very late barely able to put the book down. It is truly an amazing and powerful story. This is one of those that should be turned into a movie. It is just that powerful. All of us born into the Church would benefit from reading Malcolm's story.

Mark and Debbie Blair

At 11/15/2009 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can I say about Faith Among Shadows--this book has had a huge impact on me, my family, and associates at work. (I'm reading it for the 3rd time) Everyone that has read it agrees with me that it is one of the best books we have ever read including those in our ward book club. It is not only a compelling, powerful story but the way it is written is amazing. Malcolm has a way with words that is riveting, charming and even humorous at times.
After meeting Malcolm at a book sighing at Ed Week on BYU campus and a few weeks of correspondence he was kind enough to do a fireside in our stake. He is humble, insightful, with a strong faith from a life few of us can imagine.

At 11/18/2009 5:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story as for me. It would be great to read something more concerning this theme.
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At 12/06/2010 10:45 AM, Blogger Nonimo said...

I wonder if the story is true, the story reads very boring in the 1st 3rd of the book and then reads like a spy novel, very involved, big change in pace, like it is written by somebody else. I formed a partnership with Malcolm to do VoIP and he fraudulently appropiated corporate funds using a false identity, he stole over $[...]. Malcolm is a scammer and has scammed others in the VoIP industry. He also has an adverse action by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Examiners for using a fraudulent certificate saying he was a certified family therapist when he was not. look in the 2004 report.

He took a company public according to him VNWX and took over $50k from investors and the company is listed as a fraud .

Beware of Malcolm Leal, he is a scammer


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