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JCN reviews books and other media resources as a service to our readers. We do not sell or profit financially from these books. If you cannot find a book in your local bookstore, either ask the bookstore to order it for you or contact the publisher directly. Most publishers have websites through which you can order their books.




STEPPING OUT AND FITTING IN AROUND THE WORLD: By Duane Elmer 215 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002, $12.00, paperback.


Before leaving to become a missionary nurse in Africa, my church mission board sent me to Missionary Internship (MI), an organization that helps prepare missionaries for experiencing life in another country and culture, for pre-field orientation. We learned about cultural differences, our reactions to them and how to adjust to these differences. I often wished that the lessons learned there could be compiled in a book, so I rejoiced when I saw that Duane Elmer, one of my former faculty at MI, had done just that.

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After demonstrating the need for cultural perspective in cross-cultural ministry, the author discusses how to deal with cultural differences, including the attitudes and skills necessary for adjusting to a new culture. He identifies common differences between cultures that generate confusion and then concludes with the issues surrounding returning home after being immersed in another culture. Elmer illustrates each point with examples from his cross-cultural experiences. The author emphasizes withholding moral judgment on cultural differences. Examples from a wide variety of cultures illustrate differences to expect without listing cultural idiosyncrasies that stereotype cultures. He presents culture from a Christian perspective, discussing culturally sensitive ways to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Elmer writes in an engaging, readable style. He includes lessons learned from his mistakes, as well as serendipitous positive experiences that contributed to his success in cross-cultural encounters. For readers contemplating short-term service or a career in missionary nursing, as well as all of us who care for people from other cultures, this book provides a primer on cultural competency. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter will help you or your study group reflect on chapter topics.-Reviewed by Grace Tazelaar, MS, RN, Nurses Christian Fellowship staff member and adjunct faculty, Wheaton College.



By Raymond J. Bakke 221 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, $14.00, paperback.


Author Ray Bakke celebrates cities. An urban theologian who empowers urban leaders around the world, Bakke also challenges the evangelical church toward a broader worldview. As the middle class moves away from the violence and noise of urban centers to the newness, convenience and security of our sprawling suburbs, churches follow their congregations. Yet Bakke compellingly challenges us to reflect on what God might be saying, by considering the examples of Moses, Ruth and the prophets, as well as the ministry of Jesus and the apostles.

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Bakke does not view caring for the poor and alien of our society as merely attending to the social gospel. He reflects, "I've watched Christians flock to the suburbs over the years so they could access the best our society could offer for their families, while raising suspicions about those of us who sought transformed communities of justice, peace, health and economic opportunity for those left behind. If we are brothers and sisters in Christ, how can we tolerate such disparities?"


His easy style, yet challenging statistics, provides an exciting glimpse into the exciting possibilities in our nation's urban areas. Immigrants representing all peoples of the world come to our shores looking for job opportunities or education. The church gains by interacting and learning from them; furthermore, many will return to their homelands armed with degrees from our country to serve in leadership capacities. What an opportunity to impact the world for Christ without leaving home!! Many of these people live in the urban centers of our nation. Through Scripture, Bakke shows how God doesn't separate physical and spirituals needs, but desires wholeness for his people. This highly readable book will challenge Christian nurses to see God's heart for hurting and broken cities, and offers challenges for what we can do.-Reviewed by Heather Cutillo, MSN, RN, Nurse practitioner, diabetes coordinator at Inner City Health Center in Denver, Colorado.



By James F. Engel and William A. Dyrness 192 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, $13.00, paperback.


Much like Old Testament prophets, Engel and Dyrness caution, rebuke and exhort. Their message goes something like this: Repent of your self-exalting, detrimental, ineffective, outmoded patterns of the past, lest you become irrelevant, even extinct. Return to the ways of your Lord. Acknowledge his reign in all the earth, or you will no longer be considered worthy of carrying the mantle of the gospel. They proclaim a sober and humbling message that will no doubt step on some toes. As they chronicle where we have gone wrong over the past century, several prominent, identifiable ministries and methods of evangelism take a direct hit.

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Two overwhelming concerns prompted their writing. First, they claim that the church in North America has failed to "embody and extend" the lordship of Christ around the world. Mere proclamation of the gospel became the end, rather than raising mature followers of Christ. Leadership development often took low priority, with foreseeable results-immature, dependent Christians and churches that failed to be salt and light in their communities.


Second, they contend that the North American church and mission agencies unwittingly accepted the modern notion that all problems can be solved "with human wisdom and technology"(p. 59). As a result, the "gospel has[horizontal ellipsis] been reduced to[horizontal ellipsis] a consumer product that can be mass marketed to demonstrate superiority over alternative belief systems" (p. 69).


The church on the home front remained complacent. By and large, it turned inward and busied itself with programs designed to meet its own needs. Even if seeker sensitive, it consistently pulled away from the world it was meant to permeate and transform. Becoming increasingly secular, the church had little of substance to say to the world, and in response the world found little in it to pique their interest. It typically played a support role in mission, relegating the work of mission to agencies (para-church organizations).


The proliferation of agencies, in turn, resulted in increasing competition for dwindling resources and interest. Missionaries and executives found themselves in the position of providing more bang for the buck to secure the goods, leading to a preoccupation with methods that promoted decisions (numbers) rather than disciples. The arrogance and superior attitude of the West often left a humiliating effect on believers and non-believers alike around the world. However, the West is no longer a center for Christianity, and America has been replaced as the powerhouse on the worldwide mission scene. America must now honor younger churches around the world that are less encumbered by modernity and partner with them in true humility.


Engel and Dyrness write with insight, clarity and purpose. Their life experiences and backgrounds add credibility to their assessment. After thirty years of missionary experience, I found the book engaging, provocative and pivotal in my thinking. I would make it required reading for anyone presently involved or contemplating mission involvement. It articulated many of my concerns. Although you may not agree with all the authors say, their prophetic and practical message requires an attentive audience.-Reviewed by Sharon Barker, BSN, RN, Labor and delivery nurse at Texas Tech University Medical Center, Lubbock, Texas, and Nurses Christian Fellowship staff member. She also serves as an area mobilizer in the south central region for Interserve.



By Ronald J. Sider, Philip N. Olson and Heidi Rolland Unruh 334 pp., Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002, $19.99, paperback.


What is the biblical basis and meaning of holistic ministry? What practical steps can my home church take to reach out to the community by incorporating evangelism and social ministry? How can my church love our neighbors? The authors set out to answer these questions.


Part one defines holistic ministry by giving examples of several churches in the Philadelphia area that have integrated social action (compassion ministry, charity, community development, public policy) with evangelism and discipleship. For example, Tenth Memorial Baptist Church members walk door-to-door in the community, distributing evangelistic tracts, providing food bags, helping people prepare for their GED exam and assisting with affordable housing for seniors. The church's pastor, Bill Moore, explains, "To talk about Jesus feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, and then to send people away from our churches[horizontal ellipsis] who are hungry, who are ill-fed, who are ill-clothed, and not to do anything about it, negates the witness of the gospel" (p. 59).


Part two focuses on the congregation's commitment to reach out in the local and global community, to Holy Spirit-led church leadership, to mission-centered organization and to collaboration with other ministries. For example, Tenth Presbyterian Church partners with a nonprofit Christian health clinic in a Latino inner-city neighborhood. Together, they founded the Summer Medical Institute, in which medical volunteers provide door-to-door immunizations and other medical services, as well as offer prayer and present the gospel. Part three outlines practical ways for churches to develop and implement a holistic ministry vision.


One shortcoming of this book is the emphasis throughout on churches "doing ministry" (p. 315), rather than primarily on sharing Christ's love. I believe the focus of the book should be the authors' stated assumption, "Without this passionate love affair with God at the root of our service, we may do good deeds, but their ultimate value, both to others and to ourselves, will be limited" (p. 130). However, I recommend the book for nurses because of its focus on caring for the whole person and not just addressing physical concerns of people in a community. -Reviewed by Christina Deen, BSN, RN, home care nurse in Chicago area suburbs and volunteer nurse at Bolingbrook Christian Health Center.



JCN receives more books than we have space to review. Book Briefs are short synopses based on the publishers' descriptions. JCN staff have not read or evaluated these books.



By John R. W. Stott, 128 pp., Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1976, $12.00, paperback.


Stott argues that the mission of the church must encompass both evangelism and social action. This balanced, holistic approach to mission points the way forward for the work of the church in the world.



By Randy White 144 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996, $12.00, paperback.


White tells how he and his family left suburbia to live and minister in a disadvantaged area of Fresno, California. Their compelling story will show you God's heart for the city and help you discover how you can make a difference in today's cities.



By Cheryl Sanders, 144 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997, $11.00, paperback.


Sanders shows how ministry might be carried out by historically marginalized groups like women, minorities and children. She contends that missions can be revitalized by a theology of inclusion in a multicultural world.



By Tetsunao Yamamori, 214 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993, $13.00, paperback.


Yamamori offers practical and visionary methods to equip missions-minded Christians to take the gospel into politically or culturally closed nations. The fast-paced book points to countries that remain virtually untouched by Christianity.



By Grace Tazelaar, 96 pp., Madison, WI: NCFPress, 2003, $10.95, paperback.


Tazelaar's passion for mission, combined with her experience, helps nurses think through important questions when considering short-term or long-term mission opportunities. Practical suggestions help readers prepare spiritually, emotionally, physically and professionally.

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