Happy New Year! In this special edition of the Team Arequipa newsletter we want to suggest 15 of our favorite books and tell you why we like them. In this day and age of fast information—140-character tweets and BuzzFeed lists designed to be quickly consumed and discarded—we believe the discipline of reading a book from cover to cover is important. In Peru we see the devastating impact of poor literacy and the lack of a culture of reading (which is why CUDA is working with Peruvian students, parents, and teachers to create a love for reading). Reading empowers. Literacy affects all areas of a society. Books provide opportunities for learning, whether you agree or disagree with the author's conclusions. We hope you'll pick a book or two (or fifteen!) from this list and resolve along with us to read more this new year.
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor, or Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
Do you ever wonder what to do when a homeless person asks you for money? Have you been a part of a mission trip and left feeling that you only made a short-term impact or may have even caused harm? The authors frame poverty alleviation as “the ministry of reconciliation: moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation.” We all have broken relationships that are not what God intended them to be. This book offers a model of ministry to whole people. It aims at walking with the poor as we embrace our mutual brokenness and work together toward reconciliation.
Christ at the Coffee Shop by Nathan Ingram
Worldwide, there are billions of “believers” in the one true God but the kingdom is far from realized because we often fail to take the message from the pages of the Bible and apply it to daily life. This simple little book is a collection of short stories in which we see examples of Christ informing everyday attitudes, deeds, and interactions with neighbors. I highly recommend it.
Bruchko by Bruce Olson
This is an autobiography of an American 19-year old who leaves home and goes to the Motilones, an indigenous tribe in South America. Alongside torture, disease, and loneliness Bruce Olson builds personal relationships, opens his heart to the tribe and shares faith, teaching contextualization in an inspiring and exciting way. It is well worth the read!
Bill and Holly's Pick:
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
Calhoun’s book on the spiritual disciplines is a great reference for those who would like to live closer to God and enjoy His continual presence. If you think the spiritual disciplines consist of prayer, study, meditation, and fasting alone, you are in for a delightful surprise. This book will greatly assist you in your spiritual development.
A Spirit for the Rest of Us by Tim Woodroof
There are often two oposite poles in churches when it comes to the Holy Spirit's presence and work. Sometimes the church is completely void of the Spirit and it is a sad and lifeless situation. The other extreme is the church that will have nothing but wild, chaotic, supposed Spirit-led miracles and signs, where anything less is faithlessness. Somewhere between these two extremes is what Woodroof proposes the church can and should look like: a church lead and filled with the Spirit that God intended.
How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals edited by Alan F. Johnson
Can you imagine changing your mind about women’s roles? Many who can’t find it easy to judge the motives of those who do. What the conversation needs—what this book offers—is a space to listen to others’ stories and realize that they are not so different from our own.
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
In the midst of books designed to explain every possible facet of faith, this book is refreshing in that it uses imagery and characters to give us a renewed vision of what redemption is really about. Instead of seeing the spiritual realm as wispy and translucent, its portrayal is as bigger and even more real than the alternative.
The narrator takes a trip from the grey city to visit an unspecified place that is found to be the outskirts of heaven. Through conversations with fellow visitors and observing them wrestle with the choices they’ve made, we are shown that heaven and hell may not be what we imagined, and that those who remain in the grey city may have another option if they will merely embrace it. It’s about joy, and how our choices actively prevent us from pursuing it.
Following Jesus by N. T. Wright
Using six New Testament books (Hebrews, Colossians, Matthew, John, Mark, and Revelation) and six New Testament themes (resurrection, rebirth, temptation, hell, heaven, and new life), N. T. Wright explores what it means to follow Jesus as a present-day disciple.
The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight
Any book that challenges one to read and reexamine something they have taken for granted all of their life is a good read. Scot McKnight uses the illustration of a parakeet (you'll just have to read it to see why) to show that you can read the Bible as God's story and see it come alive in a new way.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles Mann
For a perspective-altering account of what the New World was really like before Columbus came upon it you should check out Charles C. Mann’s incredible work, 1491. Through accounts of his own studies and travel, as well as those of many other archaeologists, historians and anthropologists, Mann brings to light a very different reality of pre-1492 America than many of us were taught in school. Even if you would normally shy away from a “history book,” I encourage you to give this one a try.
The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
Many times we look at those inside the church as us and those outside the church as them and ask: How can we get them to come inside our church? This book challenges this “attractional” model of church in the Western world with the incarnational model, dreaming of a church which is reborn with God’s mission at its heart. It’s a change of mindset that imagines what happens when we stop talking in terms of us and them, in and out and start following Jesus by reflecting God's image in the midst of.
Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord's Supper by John Mark Hicks
Some of the best memories of my life have been made around a table—meals about which I can’t help but say “What a feast!” Before reading this book, I hadn’t connected my own experience of community around the table with the Bible’s motif of table fellowship. John Mark Hicks connects the dots for us from the table to God’s story and invites us to reclaim the Lord’s Supper as a missional meal of which Jesus is the host.
I love this book as an attempt to make the connection between future hope and present living; to show the logic of the church’s present mission in light of its future destiny. It is important for the church to recognize the Platonic Christianity we have inherited and see a renewed way of caring for the world and those around us—seeing the Kingdom of God developing in this world.
Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson
A great read that looks at how God has prepared minds and hearts of different people groups to hear the gospel. It is exciting to see how God has put a calling in every man's heart and to know he can work no matter of cultural, distance or language.
On Job: God-talk and the Suffering of the Innocent by Gustavo Gutierrez
In 100 pages G. Gutierrez leads his readers in a great discussion on two important topics: suffering and talking about God in the midst of suffering. The journey through the book of Job will open up your eyes to who God is in the midst of suffering and why Job can be seen as a righteous man. An additional bonus is his Latin-American context where he has worked among the poor near Lima, Peru.