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Mission in Marginal Places: The Stories 


Excellent book telling stories of mission which challenges our preconceptions, especially about what constitutes success

 


Mission Marginal Places The StMission in Marginal Places: The Stories
By Paul Cloke and Mike Pears (eds)
Paternoster
ISBN: 978-1-78078-185-3
Reviewed by: Rosa Hunt


This is the third in what should be a series of six books about mission in marginal places. The first two in the series dealt with the theory and the praxis, and this book tells us stories about mission.

Everyone likes a good story, and sure enough, this book did not disappoint. I started reading it on the bus coming home from college, and the first story I read was about a woman travelling on a bus and her experience of being present to the passengers and drivers when a conflict arose. So I was instantly hooked, and immediately started to consider whether I also was being present to my fellow travellers in that tightly bounded space whose membership is forever changing as people board and disembark.

Real life mission situations are messy. They seldom have clear lines of development, and they almost never have unambiguous success criteria. A story faithfully told can capture this messiness and preserve the open-ended nature of mission. This is what we get in this book – faithfully told stories of a wide variety of situations where Christians have attempted to engage with the wider world, whether that is on a bus, or in an anarchist and squatter community, or with a paedophile in prison, or a meal with a group of Iranian men or drinking chai in Calais’ Jungle - and so many more.

After every three or four stories, the editors (Mike Pears and Paul Cloke) present an “editorial conversation” which draws together the previous stories under an umbrella. These umbrella categories are: moments of ‘seeing’, encountering other worlds, “Guest or host?”, creative tension and “Who is my neighbour?”. This provides some sort of structure to the book, without artificially forcing the stories and the marginal communities they describe into shapes which they can’t sustain.

This is an excellent book – like most good books, it’s easy to read and hard to forget. It challenges our preconceptions about mission, and perhaps especially about what constitutes success. I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone involved in mission in marginal places. That’s you. Or, at least, if you’re a follower of Jesus, that should be you. 



Rosa is minister of Capel Salem, a bilingual Baptist Church in Tonteg, South Wales. She is also Co-Principal of South Wales Baptist College



 
Baptist Times, 03/01/2020
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