The first few lines of the introduction let you know you're in for something interesting. Why, the authors ask, is God so into 're' words, such as resurrection, restoration, and redemption? What does this tell us about God's heart, that these are the ways He relates to His creation?
When we Christians look at the culture/geopolitical landscape, do we adopt a different set of "re" words?
Do we tend towards reaction, rejection, and resistance? Could we take a page from God's book and replace those negative concepts with something like renewal, revival, and reconciliation? And wouldn't that make our witness clearer and our efforts more fruitful?
This book starts off by asking some worldview questions, and they're foundational.
What is the world? (Accident, Illusion, or Creation?)
And what are we? (Images of God with a responsibility to fellow man, or chance arrivals in a chaotic galaxy?)
And what we we to do with the world? (Do we have a role, do we have a purpose, can we make a difference, is it worth trying?)
The heart of this book is stories of people who decided to make a change, to extend their hands and roll up their sleeves. What I love most is that these people looked at the same disturbing news stories that the rest of us saw. Yet instead of seeing all the wrongs as evidence that Earth spins abandoned on its axis, they looked and said, "My God is restoring all things. How do I participate?"
What made the difference between disgusted resignation or apathetic acceptance and creative intervention?
So we read about Friend's Ministry, a productive 61 acre community garden. Their mission? "To give people a dignified place to work in exchange for help." Gardening contracts trade 37.5 hours of work for the payment of a bill up to $300.00. Along the way, gardeners form friendships and mentoring relationships, and learn life and job skills.
We read about New Horizon's Ministry, which serves an otherwise invisible demographic in Colorado. If a woman gives birth while in prison, the state takes her child. On the surface, this seems to make sense. However, the deadline to reclaim the child falls within most prison sentences. So the mother forfeits her child, losing any chance to rebuild her family. That's where New Horizon's steps in. They take the children, and place them in loving Mennonite homes. When the mother is released, she too is cared for and shepherded as she reintegrates. If all goes well, mother and child begin a new life together surrounded by a great support system.
We read about The Rare Genomics Institute, a group dedicated to sequencing the genome of people with rare diseases. They service mostly children whose diseases are unknown and so far incurable. By isolating any genetic abnormalities, they hope to give researchers and doctors more information to work with. The "ordinary people" come in because the services are crowd funded - the $7,500 procedures are paid for by donations.
The authors even discuss the arts world, and point to the way song and story and image all convey truth, goodness, and beauty.
All in all, this is a good read. It's a reminder to think before we begin pontificating about the decay of our culture- after all, there's more than a few chances to do good right there amid the bad.
Or as one guy said, "Let your light shine before men, so that they can praise our Father in heaven."
I thank Baker Publishing for providing a review copy.