Unnoticed Neighbors (book review)

This article was originally published in print in my Time to Read book review column in Transitions magazine…

In August I attended the Global Leadership Conference hosted by Willow Creek Church in Chicago. As I write this I’m preparing to attend the Catalyst Conference for the second time in Atlanta. These two conferences in particular always challenge my notions of helping those outside my personal bubble. No matter how much I try to avoid it because I’m busy, overworked, making time for family, enjoying much needed relaxation…or just plain lazy, covetous of my money, insignificant, and only one man, I just can’t get away from it. I need to do more.

Because of my need to do more, I’ve been researching the topic of social evangelism. Being just one man means I can’t solve everything. I can’t effect change in every area. So I’ve been looking into various fields of “the social justice story”, as author Erina K. Ludwig calls it, to find an area where I can enact the most change, the area where I can make the most difference with what I have to give.

I noticed an advertisement for a new book released by House Studio called Unnoticed Neighbors by Erina K. Ludwig. It piqued my interest as the book spoke of “a pilgrimage into the social justice story.” That’s what I needed, a pilgrimage, a learning experience to lead me into something bigger. The book delivered as promised.

Ludwig’s book delved into various areas of the social story and provided examples from her own real life experiences and those of others, many of them friends. Included in the areas mentioned where we can all help are clean water, the sex trade, healthcare, homelessness, extreme poverty, conflict diamonds, and more. Not only does she tell a compelling story, but she ends each chapter with practical examples of how each of us can jump into helping out in small ways.

I loved the book, and it opened my eyes to new areas of influence. I haven’t had a watershed moment yet like the Machine Gun Preacher (the inspiration for Gerard Butler’s new film) and his orphanages in Sudan where I feel compelled to point my life in a particular direction, but I’m still searching. I’m keeping my eyes open for God to send me a place in this social justice story. Even though I’ve not committed to digging a well in Africa, like my 7-year-old son wants to do, or assisting women out of prostitution in Kenya like Jared Angaza, I’m not just sitting on my arse doing nothing. Until God reveals something personal to me that I feel compelled to do, I’ll keep supporting my friend artist Caitlin Beidler of Making Roots as she assists orphans in Haiti. She’s doing something big with her time, talents, and treasure that I can help with.

I urge you to find your own place in the story. Buy the book. Do something or support someone who is. Check out House Studio and download the free book Storysong/Justice by Ethan Bryan. It’s a great place to start.

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