Many people dream of big ministries in places they feel at home in, surrounded by people like them. Shannan Martin found that that sort of ministry wasn’t her destiny at all. Instead, she ended up in a working-class neighborhood in Goshen, Indiana—okay, a neighborhood where sometimes finding a job to work at is hard—an ordinary place, surrounded by ordinary people who might be wildly different on the surface, but who are alike at heart: struggling and in need of love.
Truly paying attention to both the big things and the small can open your eyes to the truth in the world around you, and Shannan built a home amidst people who were willing to do life together—no matter how hard that is at times. Sometimes, when God calls people to ministry, it’s not a Billy Graham-style of ministry. Instead, it’s smaller, quieter, and has a profound effect on the people around us, the people who make up our lives.
This book. This book. Usually when I read nonfiction, I can only read a few pages at a time, but I wanted to read large chunks of this at a time. Shannan’s writing is so powerful and evocative, full of truth that touches the heart and opens the mind to broader ideas of home—and what that can look like.
Shannan Martin is a writer and speaker. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is her newest book.
(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)
Ben Jones hauls freight on the lonely highway of Route 117, through the desert of Utah. The few people he meets are reclusive at best, possibly dangerous at worst. And winter is coming to 117, covering everything in a blanket of snow and ice.
When Ben finds a small, mute Hispanic girl abandoned at a gas station with a note pinned to her shirt that reads “Please Ben. Watch my son. His name is Juan. Bad Trouble. Tell no one,” he is unprepared. He has no idea what’s going on, but he knows it’s bad, so he takes the girl. And finds himself in the midst of dark circumstances he’s not sure if he can find his way out of. But he’s determined to keep the girl safe, even when she’s set on disappearing into the snowy wilderness without a trace.
Lullaby Road, like the first book, The Never-Open Desert Diner, is set in a startling and memorable place and filled with characters that are…quirky and frequently scary and sad at the same time. Ben is both an awesome character and a hateful one, with his temper and his lack of impulse-control. The land is as much a character as any of the people, and this compelled me from the very first page. But I don’t think I’ll be visiting Utah anytime soon.
James Anderson was born in Seattle and raised in the Pacific Northwest.Lullaby Road is the follow-up to The Never-Open Desert Diner.
(Galley provided by Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)
After he graduated from college, Andrew Forsthoefel decided to walk across America, really listening to what the people he met had to say. Walking to Listen is the tale of that journey.
Andrew Forsthoefel went out the door of his home in Pennsylvania with a backpack and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He’d just graduated college and was ready to start his adult life…but he didn’t know how. So, he decided to walk across America, wrestling with the hard questions he asked himself every day. Everyone he met would be his guide.
From winter in Appalachia to Death Valley in August, Andrew experienced the true breadth of American geography, but it was the people he met that truly inspired him. He met kindness and fear, diversity and prejudice as people told him their stories. He faced loneliness and fear, but love and hope carried him through his amazing journey.
Walking to Listen is the story of one man on an incredible journey, but it is more than that. The people he meets, the encounters he has are truly inspiring and bring hope for the future amidst the darkness permeating our culture. This book…sure, it’s narrative nonfiction about a journey, but it is so much more than that. The people Andrew met gave me so much hope, and made me want to reach for more. Not only does this book showcase the true diversity of this nation, but it gives a face to the human experience. I highly recommend reading this.
(Galley provided by Bloomsbury USA via NetGalley.)