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I just finished reading the book Kingdom Works today. It’s a collection of stories from Bart Campolo, the leader of a volunteer organization called Mission Year. Mission Year brings young people into the inner city to live together in community with other young Christians, to partner with local churches, and to minister in their communities. All of the stories come out of that setting.
This book isn’t meant to be a textbook on how to do ministry, nor does it have deep spiritual insights that can be learned from each story. Most stories leave you with more questions than you started with and wondering about theological issues and how they relate to the problems shared.
I enjoyed reading this book, though there are parts that are uncomfortable to read. When it isn’t just a made up story, but the heartache experienced by real people, it can be difficult to look at. Our natural inclination is to turn away. Each of the stories, whether things turned out good, bad or somewhere in between, has insights to offer and will broaden your thinking. That is where the value lies in this book–it makes you think and it challenges your preconceived ideas.
I would love to comment on many of the stories, but I don’t think it would be terribly helpful if you haven’t read the book. Instead I’ll share a couple of quotes that really struck me. In speaking of the type of ministry that Mission Year is, Bart said, “This is not a high-powered evangelism ministry. There are plenty of those already. This is a settle-down-and-love-your-neighbor ministry, where the evangelism has to come naturally if it comes at all.” (p.31)
At the end of his heartbreaking story about Tyrone’s brother he says, “In that awful moment I realized for the first time that out there in the real world the choices are not always between right and wrong, but sometimes between bad and worse.” (p. 53)
I would recommend this book for adults and possibly high schoolers, depending on their maturity level. Many of the stories talk about things like drinking, drugs, sex, and violence.
Let me know if you’ve read this book, too. What did you get out of it? I’d love to hear from you.