Cover Image: Praying with the Enemy

Praying with the Enemy

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What a beautiful story that had you feeling all the feels!! I was hooked from the very first and enjoyed every page to the very end.

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My husband read this book aloud to me over the course of several weeks. Every now and then I fell asleep, but not because the story was not engaging.

I worried about poor Ward Millar, the American soldier who broke both feet after parachuting from his plane, and looked forward to his meeting up with Jae Pil, a Korean soldier who was secretly a Christian and who helped Ward escape.

The story has a happy ending, but there are narrow escapes. A true story and a heartwarming one.

I received this book from the publisher via net galley in exchange for an honest review. Four stars.

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4 1/2 stars rounded up. What an amazing story! I loved books based on true stories, and this did not disappoint. Set during the Korean War, we get to know two different characters. A North Korean soldier and an American POW.

Pilot Captain Ward Millar ejects over enemy territory in North Korea. With debilitating injuries, he is easily captured. With no medical attention, his legs do not heal, and he continues to be stuck in all these POW camps. He has multiple attempts at escaping, but each falls through and he is forced to return to the camp (unknown to his captors). His faith stays strong throughout though, and he knows he will do everything within his power and the power of God to return to his family.

North Korean Kim Jae Pil was drafted into the Army. His family has embraced Christianity, but that is unacceptable in North Korea, so they must hide it. He yearns to escape to South Korea and live with more freedom. But being in the Army does not make this escape easy. He manages to defect from the Army, but is reenlisted just a short time later.

Cpt Millar and Kim cross paths and discover a similar faith and purpose, even through the language barrier. We then get to watch as the two attempt a very daring escape.

I loved this story. It was heartbreaking to read about how the Americans treated the Koreans. After living there for 2 years, I came to love the Korean people, so this really was hard to read about. Makes me wish people would just be kind! But overall an encouraging read and I loved watching how the faith of both men helped get them where they needed to be.

Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This was very interesting. I haven't read much on the Korean War. Capt. Ward Millar must eject from his plane over North Korea. In the process, both ankles are broken. It is amazing his courage and resourcefulness and his ability to retain Hope. Kim Jae Pil is a North Korean citizen forced into the army. He escaped once, but was conscripted again. He is a Christian and is persecuted for his faith. It is eye opening the hardships Christians endured under the communist regime.

I was hesitant to read this. I was afraid it would be so sad, but it is so inspirational. It if filled with facts and some creative license. Great book for history buffs.

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People who don’t like war books will still like this book

This is a novel based on an incredible true story. While living in Korea many years ago, the author learned about an American pilot during the Korean War who escaped along with a North Korean Christian. He thought people needed to know about these two amazing men, so he visited with the families of Ward Millar and Kim Jae Pil to learn the details of their experiences.

The stories of of Kim Jae Pil, Ward Millar, and Ward’s wife Barbara Millar, are told in alternating chapters in this book. Kim Jae Pil, a North Korean Christian, was forced to fight in the army but wanted to escape to the South. He was looking for his father, sister, and grandfather and hoped to go back for his mother too. Ward Millar, a jet pilot in the Air Force, was captured as a POW in North Korea. If that wasn’t bad enough, both of his ankles were badly broken when he ejected from his plane, preventing him from standing or walking for months. Their paths cross and they help each other miraculously escape. A major theme is faith or the lack of it, and trust in God.

I normally don’t enjoy reading books about war, but I liked this book because it focuses on courage, faith, and perseverance, rather than the violence of war. I didn’t want to stop reading and I love the pictures at the end. This is a good reminder that God is aware of us and will help, and gratitude for all we have. Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC to use for my review.

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Like a sponge to water, I eagerly soaked up Collis’s mesmerizing story - 71 years ago this week an American pilot crash-landed on enemy territory during the Korean War, broke both his ankles upon ejection, endured POW camps, and then escaped alongside, and with the help of, a North Korean Christian. Mindboggling, isn’t it?! I was immediately intrigued.

I loved the insight Collis brought to the account, allowing readers to get inside the head of a North Korean soldier, Corporal Kim Jae Pil who kept his Christianity secret from his fellow soldiers and the Communist Party ruling his country. I was understanding of the moments he questioned his faith, wondering how God had led him into horrible circumstances and equally happy to see his growth as he dug deep to rely on his faith. His courage to help the enemy was astounding.

“How many times had he prayed? How many days? Asking for help, only to be led to a place so devoid of interest and possibly it might as well have been the bottom of the ocean.”

I equally enjoyed the opportunity to get inside the head of a pilot, Captain Ward Millar, whose order it was to drop Napalm. I often wondered what it was like in the cockpit of a plane as it dropped a load - both for the pilot and the actual process of targeting and releasing. I also questioned what it would be like and what thoughts would go through a captive’s mind as he was caught and taken prisoner. Collis delivered. I read about disappointment and momentary lack of faith when Millar escaped and saw the arduous journey before him. Tears were falling as I read about him remembering a roommate who'd survived and recalling his advice that “what kept him alive was the avoidance of self-pity.” What great advice for any of us in situations where we’re brought to our knees. My heart lept for joy when I read about those Millar met in the hills, but the highlight for me was seeing him return to relying on his faith.

“His only option, he realized, was to pray. He hadn’t done it since that day on the mountain, when he realized he had no chance of escape, when he’d felt that God had failed him. Now, he returned to it with all the energy of his heart.”

I don’t know what it is that draws me to stories featuring unlikely friendships. Perhaps it makes my soul glad to know that two people have chosen to focus on what unites them, what they have in common, rather than the things that divide them, such as outward appearances, cultures, and languages. I was in awe of Millar and Kim’s courage, faith and determination.

I dare you to read this without getting choked up or shedding a tear. Impossible.

This remarkable and heartbreaking story is an incredible read. I appreciated that the author didn’t focus in-depth on cruelty or torture, but instead chose to focus on the serendipitous moments where both were assured of God’s hand in the experience. Thank you for the generosity of the publishers in getting this book to me amidst the publication frenzy.

I was gifted this book by Steven T. Collis, Shadow Mountain Publishing, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

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#BookRevew: PRAYING WITH THE ENEMY by Steven T. Collis

I know so little about the Korean War. The varying ideologies, communism and capitalism, and the way of life in North Korea were fascinating to read. I even learned a thing or two about military stuff. The author’s note explained which one was true and which one was fiction in the story.

Ward’s future was unknown to him. He wasn’t a believer but through his wife’s faith, he tried to hold on to it. That tiny cross stick he made was sentimental. He experienced a lot of pain with his broken ankles. I still can’t believe how he survived it all. I appreciated that Ward, Ward’s wife and Jae Pil had their own POVs. It gave me a glimpse of their inner thoughts and feelings during that turbulent time in their lives.

In intense situations, it was captivating how Ward and Jae Pil communicated. Wow! God for sure helped them understand each other through actions and drawings. They are not perfect human beings. They had their own fears and their faith even wavered. But they worked well together which was to their advantage. God was with them this whole time.

Overall this was a very compelling story. Be ready for some bombings and violence which was a reality during the war. A little slow at times but there was enough suspense and hope to make it through till the end. Ward’s resilience, tactics and his new found faith helped him through his whole ordeal. It was amazing. We have to keep on trusting God and His perfect plan for us.

If you like inspirational war stories, this one’s for you.

Rating: 4.8 stars
Pub date: 07 Jun 2022

Thank you Shadow Mountain Publishing for the complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Not too long ago, I was thinking about how, with as many books as I've read about the American Civil War, WWI, and especially WWII, I might need to branch out, and I was particularly interested in finding a book about the Korean War, which I know so little about. So when I was given the chance to read an advance copy of Praying with the Enemy, I was eager to get started--and once I started, I was eager to keep reading. I really liked how the book had both American Ward Millar and Korean Kim Jae Pil as narrators; seeing things from each perspective was so fascinating. (We also got glimpses from Ward's wife's POV, which I also appreciated.) I loved learning about the different philosophies driving the communists and the capitalists and why different people might be drawn to each, I also appreciated seeing Ward's journey of faith, starting out not believing in God but coming to believe, and how Kim Jae Pil was already a believer but had his moments of doubt. This was just to interesting to read. I will say, I was expecting the two men to meet WAY earlier in the book than they actually did, so that threw me off a little bit, but not so much to make the book unenjoyable in any way.

I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Ward is on his thirtieth mission in Korea when things go wrong and he crashes, breaking both ankles. As he spends time in captivity, the urge to escape is strong, but his mobility is almost nonexistent. While trying to stay alive, he begins to think more about God, and ultimately to pray. Despite his wife's faith, he's always denied that God cares about what happens on earth to individuals, but as he looks back over his imprisonment, it's hard to avoid seeing God's hand. Coming from a Christian family, Jae Pil rejoiced in their freedom when the Japanese were kicked out of North Korea. Then the Communists came and freedom was no more than a memory. Impressed into the army, he constantly seeks a chance to escape to South Korea. When he stumbles upon a downed American pilot, is Ward his passport to safety or the thing that will finally get them both killed?

I'm not a huge reader of war books, but the idea of a man growing his faith while in captivity and one of his jailers sharing the same faith while both endeavour to escape sounded interesting. And it was. I think I expected more interaction between the two, so I spent too much time trying to work out when the two storylines would converge, but nevertheless it was a good story. It probably goes without saying that it isn't a light read - prisoners of war aren't known for having easy lives - but it's not so heavy as to bog the reader down in the horror of all Ward experiences. In fact, though there's scope for plenty of graphic detail, there's (thankfully) nothing too descriptive. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of a historical note telling the reader about what's fact and what fiction in the story. All in all, a clean, well written, thought-provoking story based on an amazing incident in the Korean War. It definitely includes Christian themes but doesn't get overly preachy.

Note that I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and this is my considered opinion of the book.

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I pulled this book out to read during a 5+ hour track meet, only intending to read it a little bit while waiting for my son to compete. I didn't want to put it down! The story doesn't start out slow at all, the reader is thrust right into the middle of the action right from the start. Knowing that this is based on a true story made it even more captivating.

I knew a very little bit about the Korean War before starting this book, but I've never even pondered on the way the communist side thought. I also had no idea that the North was aided by the Chinese.

History and all of the why's fascinate me, but I was most in awe of the strength and courage of Ward and Kim Jae Pil. Both going through their own battles and struggles, both wondering why things were happening the way they were. In the end, we all get to see that things worked out just the way they needed to, and it could not have happened without divine intervention.

I appreciated the afterword letting the reader know what happened to both men. I do wish there was a little more detail about Ward's health, more specifically, his legs.

Definitely a book I recommend to any history buff or really, anyone.

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Fascinating fiction based on fact. Author Steven T. Collis decided the best way to tell this story was through fiction where he could combine a few characters, add dialogue, etc. He said: "A good rule of thumb for the reader is this: the more unbelievable the detail or the anecdote, the more likely it is actually true."

Knowing that most of the plot details were true made the story more gripping for me. I loved the lessons that God's timing doesn't always match our timing, and that He does things differently than we often plan. The setting was great, and I enjoyed learning more about the Korean conflict. The story was well-told and kept me engaged throughout. I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain for an advance reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Flying over North Korea with Napalm explosives. Near-death encounters with Chinese snipers and North Korean soldiers. Staying alive in terrible pits as a Prisoner of War. Missing in Action. Escaping. Challenge of faith in the midst of the horrors of war. Conflicting philosophies. Deceit. Military strategies, and more. Three countries involved in a devastating war that has divided families across the Korean Peninsula. Three different men from each country. These and many more form a pulsating action-packed novel filled with multiple twists and turns. The three protagonists in this novel are Captain Ward Millar (aka Ward), Kim Jae Pil (aka Jae Pil), and to a lesser extent, Lieutenant Kang. All of them are able to speak and communicate in English! The chapters begin by alternating their stories, beginning with Ward as a pilot flying over North Korea during the Korean War in 1951. When his plane crashed landed on enemy territory, though he managed to survive, he broke his ankles making it difficult to even escape.

Jae Pil's story begins with him being drafted to serve in the Communist Army. His family were Christians. The communist party's ideals were constantly at odds with what he and his family believed. His family mission was to build a church and to enable people to worship properly without fear. Unfortunately, living in a land with a godless ideology makes their mission difficult. These constant struggles present Jae Pil with a dilemma to choose between his country or his faith; the Communist Party or God. Eventually, at great risks to his own life, he decides to do what he could to escape from the communists. That begins a gripping journey from a place he felt enslaved to his desired place of freedom. Alas! Even the land of South Korea is not kind to a defector from North Korea.

Lieutenant Kang's character plays the role of the officer in charge of the prisoners of war, in particular, trying to extract sensitive information from Ward. He also uses various forms of torture and threats to get what he wants from the prisoners. The author manages to compress many acts and behaviors of the Chinese soldiers into this one character. His hatred for the American system took root when he was young. He deems the Americans as people who imposed their wills on the Korean people, and he needs to do his part to liberate Korea from such American influences.

Initially, the stories seem to be separated with no association between these two men. Gradually, their paths converged and they worked together in a dangerous escape. The later part of the book becomes an exciting adventure of miraculous events enabling them to escape.

The title of the book gives readers a clue about where the book is headed. Rightly so. Ward and Jae Pil both believe in God, more so for the latter in terms of his own personal and family sacrifices. At least Ward has a family to return to in America. For Jae Pil, it is a painful separation from the family he loves. Collis does a good job in showing us the different perceptions in terms of ideology, faith, and liberation. All are driven by their own sense of good. This reminds me that war in itself is evil, and evil will beget evil. In any war, there is no innocent people. Everyone will have to take a side, and it is often a challenge to choose the lesser of two evils. The Communist have their ideals. The American system of democracy and freedom has their flaws. The Chinese perspective continues to toggle between Communist socialism and modern capitalistic concerns. The truth is that all of these people are human. They are all under God, regardless of whether they acknowledge God or not. In spite of the miracles that Ward and Jae Pil have seen, wars bring about their fair share of horrors and injustice. True freedom only comes when we see our God in heaven.

Based on a true story, Collis tries to stay as faithful as possible to recollections from the families and records of the key characters. As a fiction, this novel is an exciting read. Yet, this novel is inspired from real events, which reminds me once again that sometimes, books of fiction speak more about reality. Collis has given us much food for thought about war, the price of peace, the freedom we cherish, faith, persecution, and sadly, how adversity can bring out the best and worst of humanity.

Steven T. Collis is a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, founding director of the school's religious freedom clinic, and founding faculty director of Texas's Bech-Laughlin First Amendment Center. He received an MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. He is the author of the nonfiction titles Deep Conviction: True Stories of Ordinary Americans Fighting for the Freedom to Live Their Beliefs and The Immortals: The World War II Story of Five Fearless Heroes, the Sinking of the Dorchester, and an Awe-Inspiring Rescue. He and his wife are parents to four children.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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This was such a faith promoting and inspirational book. It was so well written. It grabbed my interest from the start and I had a hard time putting it down at the end of the day. The characters were amazing, there was plenty of action and best of all there was a happy ending.
I thought the epilogue was a nice addition too. This is a must read for anyone who loves a good war story based on actual events.

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#PrayingwiththeEnemy #NetGalley

Steven Collis knows how to write a story, that captures the feelings of Ward Millar. Ward Millar's plane malfunction flying over Korea. When Ward is captured, he can't walk, the ejection from his plane, broke.both legs. Even with two broken legs, Ward is determined to find a way to escape. A. feat that proves to be one that shows he won't give up.
Kim Jae Pil is a Christian Korean, who longs to find his family and flee to South Korea. Being a Christian in a communist country isn't easy.
A true story told in narrative form, that is one of determination and grit.

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Excellent piece of historical narrative about true events. I recommend for fans of war stories as well as for fans of Unbroken, by Hillenbrand. Lovely cover too!

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Praying with the Enemy was such an inspirational story. The main characters had the faith to keep moving forward when all hope seemed lost. The way that the Lord's hand worked in their escape was truly miraculous.

The book was well-paced and the action kept the story moving along nicely. The only thing that felt out of place were the chapters from Lt. Kang's perspective. They just didn't fit into the flow of the story as well. I did really appreciate Barbara's story and her struggle to keep faith as her husband was missing.

I recommend this for anyone who enjoys an inspirational Christian story!

Thanks to Shadow Mountain, Netgalley, and Stephen T. Collis for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I found this book to be very interesting. It highlighted the need to trust in God's timing and not in our own. A concept that is hard for me sometimes. But He always has a plan. Ward Millar and Jae Pil were both heroes in their own ways. I was fascinated while reading their stories and what they went through during the Korean War. I also loved Barbara Millar's faithfulness and trust in the Lord.

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PRAYING WITH THE ENEMY by STEVEN T COLLIS is based on a true story of the miraculous escape from imprisonment in North Korea of American pilot Captain Ward Millar in 1951, helped by Kim Jae Pil, a North Korean soldier who himself is trying to escape the communist regime.
The story is a testimony to the power of prayer. I like to see how Ward gradually comes to faith in the God in whom his wife Barbara so firmly believes. As Ward drags himself around with broken ankles and infected wounds, what are the odds that he will find help from a Korean Chtistian who is also bent on escape? I like to see the friendship and trust that develops between these two men who don’t speak the same language but are bound together by faith in God.
The book is an inspiring story of courage and fortitude and of never giving up. It will keep you riveted.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Shadow Mountain Publishing. The opinions in this review are completely my own.

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A suspenseful page turner, Praying with the Enemy is inspiring and action packed. Author Steven T. Collis tells an improbable but true story of friendship and faith - a downed American Air Force pilot finds friendship and hope in the Korean people he meets while imprisoned during the Korean War. The author weaves in an intellectual examination of the two sides in the war, the impact of war on civilians, and the perils of both communism and capitalism. Collis’ characters experience and profess Christianity without cloying or canned sentimentality. On the whole, a delight to read.

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A compelling true, life story of a POW finding faith and hope.
Ward Millar, a pilot in the Korean war has his plane malfunction and catch fire forcing him to bail out over North Korea. He is quickly captured quickly hiding his wedding ring, an act that would become a source of comfort through his suffering. Through multiple miracles that his life is saved time and again. His wife having endured his leaving for combat has a connection to him and even though she is informed of his missing status she feels sure that he will return. It seems ironic that a Korean officer is determined that he will be executed, while he is saved by the Chinese command more than once. Many of the North Korean army are sure that they will prevail because of the “rightness” of the communist ideal and that it is only a matter of time before the war is won. Surprisingly it is a Korean, Kim Jae Pil who will come to his aid. Miller, who was not religious before his capture, had fashioned a small cross with a pair of sticks and it is seeing that cross that that brings Kim Jae Pil to want help Miller while he is seeking a way to the south and freedom. This story is riveting and will keep you involved as you wonder how he will ever survive. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy. This is my review and all thoughts are my own.

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