1. Ophélie is a child who seems wise beyond her years. Have you known children like this? Should adults pay attention to a child’s ‘intuition’?
2. The townspeople of Castelnau are none too happy about the influx of pied-noir and harki orphans. Are some of their fears justified? How do you handle situations involving prejudice:
- Go along with the crowd
- Disagree but keep quiet
- Take a stand and speak your heart
3. In chapter five, on the ferry to France, Anne-Marie’s thoughts are: This pitiful lost flock of humanity drifting on the seas was being flung out like the stars to fill another spot of earth. But no one was guiding, no one pointed the way. Their destiny was as random as the galaxies. What does Anne-Marie ultimately come to believe about guidance? Why does she come to these conclusions?
4. Read the conversation between Gabriella and Anne-Marie in Chapter 8 (p. 121-124) and then read the scene on p. 460-461, starting with “When she shook herself back tot he present…” Discuss the image of a tapestry and the concept that God brings one person or event in a life to help a person heal from past wounds. Have you seen this acted out in your life?
5. In chapter nine, both Mother Griolet and Gabriella suggest that ANne-Marie read the same Scripture in the Gospel of John. Have you ever felt that God was speaking to your through the ‘coincidence’ of having the same Scripture mentioned by different people in a short span of time? How have you responded to this?
6. One of the theme in Two Testaments is that of trust. In chapter fourteen, after Mother Griolet asks Gabriella to consider becoming her apprentice, they have this conversation (p. 184-185):
“…All I ask is that you consider it. Before you answer, I simply ask that you talk to the Lord about it.”
Gabriella frowned. “Mother Griolet, I’m not afraid to ask, but how can I be sure that what I hear will be from Him?”
How do you handle situations where you feel God asking you to do something that you don’t want to do or when you aren’t sure if you are truly hearing God speaking to you? How does the issue of trust come into play in your decision?
7. Chapter fourteen (p. 193): (Gabriella) thought of her mother. She had left comfort and a promising future to follow her father to the lost country of Senegal when she was barely on the brink of womanhood. Her mother’s life had been hard, painful, isolated. But she knew what Rebecca Madison would say to all that. “Phooey! When you’re doing what God has called you to do, there is something that goes way beyond all the trappings of the world. It’s the beauty of sacrifice. I can’t explain it, Gabriella. You’ll have to discover it yourself.”
Do you agree with Rebecca Madison? Why or why not? Have you ever given up something that was extremely important to you for a high cause and later found the sacrifice was more than worth it.
8. Consider Mother Griolet’s reflections in chapter sixteen (p. 208). The old nun smiled as she read. How like her God. He had inspired a woman in Senegal to write this letter weeks ago, so that on this day when she needed it so desperately, Mother Griolet would receive a word of encouragement. It was no coincidence. It was tapestry. Thunder grumbled outside, but the dark cloud had completely disappeared from Mother Griolet’s heart.
Have you ever had a similar experience of God ‘showing up’ in an unexpected way when you needed it most? If so, share about it.
9. Read the following conversation between Anne-Marie and Gabriella in chapter 18 (p. 238-239):
“I still have a questions.,” Anne-Marie remarked. “Do you mean that your God is not strong enough to convince you that His way is best?”
“God doesn’t work that way. How can I explain it? He gives us a choice, never forces us. And His Spirit guide us. If we listen.”
“But you have tried to listen, and you are not sure. Now what do you do?”
Gabriella turned to her friend, admiring both her dark, natural beauty and her honest questions.
“You wait. That is the hardest part. You just wait.”
Discuss the place that waiting plays in life. Is the aspect of waiting different for a Christian than for someone who does not believe in Christ.
10. Eilane tells Anne-Marie (p. 241), “If you want God to be your God, He’s there, waiting. Membership is not reserved for some elite group. It’s open to everyone who truly believes.” Do you agree or disagree?
11. Read the scene starting at the bottom of p. 283-285 as David expresses his doubts and anger and fear to the Lord. What is your reaction to this scene? Have you ever felt these type of emotions? How did you respond? What happened?
12. Read the scene on p. 308-309 after Anne-Marie has found out about Moustafa. Have you ever felt a ‘strange peacefulness’ as if ‘invisible arms were cradling’ you in the midst of something terribly difficult? Discuss this.
13. Think about the relationship between David and Roger Hoffmann and what caused it to be strained for so many years. How and why did that relationship change? Have you ever had a strained relationship; what allowed you to break through and truly communicate?
14. Discuss the way that MOther Griolet’s funeral brought together so many people from different backgrounds. Have you ever experienced a gathering like this? What were the circumstances?
15. Within the novel there are several impossible love stories. Discuss the specific difficulties that are inherent to a marriage between people from different cultures, religions, and soci-economic backgrounds. In your opinion, is there a time when these differences cannot be comprised or overcome? What made these love stories possible in the novel?
16. Throughout the novel, Moustafa is looking for an oasis for his soul. What does he find? Do you have an oasis for your soul? Who, what or where is it?
17. Discuss the different possible meanings of the title Two Testaments. In your opinion, what are the two testaments the author refers to in the title?
18. Consider Gabriella’s thoughts near the end of chapter thirty-one (p. 426): She picked up the other piece of the santon, walked out into the courtyard, and stared down at he statue. She recalled something Mother Griolet had said to her once… We must be broken before we are useful to the Lord. Broken of our selfishness, broken of ourselves. In that brokenness, we have so much more to offer him. Gabriella hugged the statue to herself and cried.
Discuss the idea that ‘we must be broken before we are useful to the Lord’. Do you agree? Have you seen this to be true in your life?