Dirty Faith: Bringing the Love of Christ to the Least of These by David Z. Nowell (Bethany House)
In Dirty Faith, former Texas Baptist pastor David Nowell shares his passion for ministry to millions of nameless, faceless children. He calls individual Christians and churches to view the world through “the lens of grace” and become serious about people Jesus described as “the least of these.” The president of Hope Unlimited for Children offers disturbing statistics: 167 million boys and girls are orphans; 1 billion live in desperate poverty; and 21,000 die needlessly every day. In Brazil alone, 250,000 adolescent and preteen girls enter the sex trade every year.
The Houston Baptist University and Baylor University graduate uses Scripture and biblical examples generously. He divides the book into three parts.
In “Context,” he offers heart-breaking first-person stories of “throwaway kids and peripheral people.” He contrasts dirty faith to sanitized faith and the attitude that says, “It’s not our problem.” Then he offers beautiful word pictures of love.
In “Faces,” Nowell personalizes children who have been sex-trafficked or wallow in horrific prisons, often for petty theft. He defines the difference between social tourism and missions.
Finally, in “Community,” he outlines the difficulty of echoing God’s love through wisdom and compassion rather than through pity and possessions.
Reading Dirty Faith is not for the faint-hearted. Tears may flow. Dirty faith requires God’s call, hard work and occasional failure, Nowell warns. After all, he says, there are no super Christians, just Christians marked by faith and grace so their cups overflow and splash grace on everyone around them.
Kathy Robinson Hillman, president
Baptist General Convention of Texas
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Love Hunger by David Kyle Foster (Chosen/Baker Books)
This autobiography of David Foster pulls no punches. As a “preacher’s kid,” Foster exposes his disconnect with his parents by trying every sin imaginable. He tries Hollywood and a small bit of success—and more sin. The book elaborates, sometimes graphically, about the types of sin in which he was involved, both overtly and behind closed doors.
Foster turns the corner in Chapter 17, “Renewing the Mind,” when he encounters someone who genuinely listens to his moral failures. Spiritual growth happens from that point forward, and redemption begins.
Foster, who holds master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Trinity Divinity School, is the founder of Mastering Life Ministries. His story shows us, once again, that through God’s grace, there’s hope and reconciliation after repentance.
Skip Holman, minister of discipleship
Northeast Baptist Church