One of my joys each month is to meet with a group of close friends to discuss a book we have all agreed to read. The pick always relates to a different foreign country, and more often than not it’s been written by a non-Christian. Who leads the discussion is passed around in the group, and the conversation always ends with an extended time of prayer for that given country.
The book for February was I Am Malala (Little, Brown and Company). Malala Yousafzai is the young Pakistani girl who stood up for education and was eventually shot in the head by the Taliban. With the help of British surgeons, she miraculously survived her ordeal.
Malala is the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and she was one of four runners-up for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” award. All ten persons in our group felt this was one of the best books we have read since we began getting together some four years ago.
The book we have chosen for March is A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (Sarah Crichton Books). The country is Sierra Leone. At the age of 12, Ishmael fled attacking rebels and eventually wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. At heart a gentle boy, he found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.
At the age of 16, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF. And, through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal.
Because of busy schedules, I know that ministers sometimes end up only reading Christian books. For the sake of better understanding my world, I have fought against this tendency. But without the discipline of this reading group, I don’t think I would be keeping up with my intentions.
Please click here to visit David Mains’ Sermon-Coach.com website.
You will also find a variety of resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries website. Please click here.