Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission (Resources for Reconciliation)

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9780830834549: Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission (Resources for Reconciliation)
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In our anonymous and dehumanized world, the simple practice of friendship is radically countercultural. But sometimes Christians inadvertently marginalize and objectify the very ones they most want to serve. Chris Heuertz, international director of Word Made Flesh, and theologian and ethicist Christine Pohl show how friendship is a Christian vocation that can bring reconciliation and healing to our broken world. They contend that unlikely friendships are at the center of an alternative paradigm for mission, where people are not objectified as potential converts but encountered in a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity. When we befriend those on the margins of society by practicing hospitality and welcome, we create communities where righteousness and justice can be lived out. Heuertz and Pohl's reflections offer fresh insight into Christian mission and what it means to be the church in the world today.

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About the Author:

Christopher L. Heuertz is international director of Word Made Flesh, an organization that exists to serve Jesus among the most vulnerable of the world's poor. He is the author of Simple Spirituality.

Review:

"An approachable combination of theory and practice, Friendship at the Margins invites the reader to question how his life would look different if he were motivated by pure friendship. . . . This is not a book for those who want a meal delivered but instead for those willing to accept a seat offered at the table with all the ambiguity and potential it holds." (Wendy West, Missiology, 2011)

"Don't miss this IVP book, it will invite others to thirst for life that is really life." (Jan Arkills, Lamplighter Reviews, September 2010)

"Heuertz and Pohl show how friendship is a Christian vocation that can bring reconciliation and healing to our broken world. They explain how unlikely friendships are at the center of an alternative paradigm for mission, where people aren't objectified as potential converts, but rather encountered in a reciprocal relationship (friendship). (CBA Retailers Resources, April 2010)

"Friendship at the Margins weaves together masterfully the life of contemplative activists, friendships, spirituality, simplicity and community to create a refreshingly demystified understanding of mission. The book deals with some 'pain points' in Christian missions like career, community and popular approaches which have become the order of the day in the mission field, unfortunately. The book presents friendship not merely as a manipulative method, but as the heart of mission itself. The authors through the book provide rich insights into their passion and experience." (Jayakumar Christian, National Director, World Vision India)

"Friendship at the Margins is an important book arising at a time when our culture values success and objects more than relationships. This book is an important challenge that theology must be both received and lived and that our faith requires the ongoing struggle and joy of what may be at times difficult friendships. Calling for substance over form in our actions of justice, Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl remind us that the living out of God's justice is a two-way street of giving and receiving." (Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary, and author of The Next Evangelicalism)

"Friendship at the Margins brings the simple concept of friendship and adds a nuance that challenges current mission models. Its stories bring clarity to the difficulties brought on by relationships with people in precarious situations. But it ultimately paints a startling picture of sustained journeying with Jesus. A thoughtful and inspiring read." (Nikki Toyama-Szeto, program director, Urbana, and coeditor, More Than Serving Tea)

"This book will challenge you to the core. It is refreshing to see mission and ministry described as worship. This changes the conversation in a most needed way." (Chris Tomlin, singer/songwriter)

"A must-read book. My good friend Chris Heuertz shares the story of Word Made Flesh, an incredible ministry serving the poorest of the poor around the world, by providing practical examples of what it means to live out reconciliation, mission and ministry to the poor through deep friendships. There is a major difference between 'ministry' to the poor and truly being in community with them, and you'll learn what that really looks like. "Included are amazing stories of living out Jesus' radical truth of friendship with the least of these. And this ultimately is the story of WMF. Most think ministry to the poor and least of these means 'reaching out' and then walking away. But Chris defines ministry to the poor as the gift of friendship and building the bridge of hospitality by living among them and with them. I highly recommend you not only read this book, but get involved and learn more about the incredible work of Word Made Flesh." (Brad Lomenick, director, Catalyst)

"The religious authorities thought that they were insulting Jesus by calling him a 'friend of tax collectors and sinners' (Mt 11:19). Jesus retorted by claiming that his practice of friendship with such 'undesirables' would be vindicated. Writing to his somewhat difficult friends in Corinth, whom he loved as a father (1 Cor 4:15; 16:24; 2 Cor 2:4), Paul reminded them that he had gotten to know them when they were sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, practicing homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers before they were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor 5:9-10; 6:9-11). Friendship at the Margins shares learning from following the path of Jesus and Paul of befriending people at the margins of 'respectable' society today. This is no ivory tower theology but theology worked out in the bittersweet experience of becoming friends with those we respectable people call the 'poor.' There is much here to inspire those of us who think of mission in terms of both telling and serving. In fact I would go further and say that this book is about the essence of Christian mission." (Dewi Hughes, theological adviser, Tearfund)

"The loud may get the most attention, but more often than not it's the gentle, humble and highly relational that will change the world. Chris Heuertz is one of those people--listen carefully; he has much to say!" (Margaret Feinberg (www.margaretfeinberg.com), author of The Organic God and Scouting the Divine)

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