Watching the news these days can be downright discouraging. Checking Facebook or Twitter might be just as discouraging for the same reasons—we’re living in increasingly difficult times for Christians. Even listening to Christian news might leave you wringing your hands and crying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
And in such times, that is an appropriate response (to a degree). But even as evil rises like a dark cloud over our world, God is using ordinary people to positively impact the world in great ways that the news won’t cover. Or, to speak in biblical terms from the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, even though the tares are growing rapidly, wheat is still growing alongside it.
In Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World Through Everyday People, Warren Cole Smith (of WORLD Magazine) and John Stonestreet (of Breakpoint and the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview) team up to share powerful and positive stories of what God is doing through His people. The goal of this book is:
…to inspire everyday Christians to “run toward the plague when everyone else is running away,” and we hope to see the church today have the strategic wisdom to be fire-bearers in ways that are restorative and life-giving, and not merely reactionary. (35)
Most of the book’s stories first appeared either as a WORLD or Breakpoint story and fall under the following categories:
- Caring for the poor
- Capitalism for the common good
- Compassionate Alternatives to Abortion
- Fighting prostitution and human trafficking
- Christians championing education and education Reform
- Restoring former prisoners to society
- Racial reconciliation
- Christian faith in scholarship
- Sexual identity struggles
- Suffering and disability
- Marriage as a healing institution
- Orphan care
- Christian creative arts
Each chapter has a handful of stories that range from a page to four pages which alert readers to many real life victories Christians have had in engaging with culture and displaying the Kingdom here on earth. Stories range from the reach of Christian rappers Lecrae and KB—to feminist/lesbian professor Rosaria Butterfield’s conversion to Christianity—to how one ministry converted an old prison into housing that helps low-income families out of poverty—to share how one ministry helped transform a former stripper’s life. At the end of each chapter, Smith and Stonestreet include a “To Do List” with recommended reading on the subject and suggested action steps that encourage readers to engage in the issue themselves.
Reading Restoring All Things stretched my imagination and stirred a passion in me to think outside the box to impact the world for Christ. If you’re interested in some of the topics the book covers, I recommend this book to you, and hope it does for you what it did for me. I also recommend this book for pastors who desire to cast a vision in their hearts and the hearts of those in their congregation of how to be salt and light in our needy world. There is so much more to engaging culture as a Christian than merely being reactionary.
As an undergrad business major at a Christian university, my mind and heart were stretched hearing Christian businessmen and women share about how their businesses were vehicles toward social justice for the spread of the gospel. In a short stint in the Dominican Republic with HOPE International, I saw first hand how Christian ingenuity, professional skills, and hard work can do amazing things to help people escape poverty and restore dignity for the sake of Christ. And now with Leadership Resources International, I see first hand how training a pastor in the Scriptures can set him ablaze for a ministry that can transform his whole community.
Reading this book renewed my hope for the world just like the experiences mentioned above. I hope many readers catch a vision of doing small—and great things—for the kingdom as they read the stories on these pages.
Title: Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World Through Everyday People
Authors: Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestret
Publisher: Baker Books