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  • Marina Shank

In the midst of many crazy transitions, amazingly, this year included a lot of reading. Thank God for audio books and Kindle devices! Here our some of our favorites. We'd also welcome your recommendations for our 2022 reading list!

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself

By Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

A very helpful resource on how we can help the materially poor in the best way possible through a Gospel lens.

The Ology

By Marty Machowski

A great children's book that explains complex doctrines in bite-sized pieces in a way kids can understand. (A recommendation from Moses's library.)

The Giver (El Dador de Recuerdos)

By Lois Lowry

A creative novel (and quarantine read) that helped us brush up on our Spanish, too!

Aprocheva Bien el Tiempo by Ana Avila and Super Ocupados (Crazy Busy) by Kevin DeYoung.

Both of these books help unpack how Christians should understand productivity through a Scriptural lens, with practical recommendations and guides.

From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership

By Scott Sauls

Biblical insights for leadership based on biblical examples.

Pastors and Their Critics

By Joel Beeke

Most people face a good deal of criticism in their lives - especially leaders and pastors. Beeke's book provides a biblical perspective on how to receive and give criticism in a way that honors God and seeks the health and maturity of God's people.

The Gospel in 3D: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures

By Jason Georges.

Very helpful paradigm for understanding three major worldview categories and how the Gospel speaks into these three cultural perspectives in a way that is consistent with Scripture. Highly recommended for all Christians seeking to make disciples in any culture (including your own!).

  • Marina Shank

The task is too great.

As we look at the setting around us - whether it’s our apartment complex, our neighborhood, our city, or our region of the world - we are keenly aware of the fact that the task is too great. What is the task, you ask? We want to see the good news of the Jesus take root in hearts and communities, thereby transforming our reality to reflect God’s Kingdom.

This kind of holistic transformation means healing in the lives of broken people, reconciliation between estranged people and groups, belonging for the lonely, wholeness in all sectors of society, and so much more. This kind of holistic transformation takes a great amount of time, resources, and skills.

One couple cannot do this alone. One small group is incapable of bringing this about. Not even one megachurch can accomplish this vision. As we think about reaching a city (or even a neighborhood) for Christ, it’s very clear that no one church has all the resources to meet all the needs that enfront it. What church or parachurch organization has within itself a counseling center, a thriving youth ministry, immigration services, grief groups, foster-parent support, endless financial resources, a network of young professionals, Alpha groups, Meals-on-Wheels programs, and open physical space for ministries yet to be dreamed of? Probably very few. The need for Christ in [insert your city’s name] is great. As Neil Powell, Birmingham pastor and author of “Together for the City” shares, “If we want to reach out to communities for Christ we will need to work together in meaningful forms of Gospel partnership.”

Yes, of course, it is only God who can do this through us weak humans. And as we see Him do the work, we are becoming more and more convinced that one of His favorite means for bringing Kingdom transformation is through human collaboration. Our triune God, who in himself is the perfect picture of partnership, loves to see his children work together as they do his business. We believe that he is glorified when believers of different backgrounds (ethinic, socioeconomic, denominational, etc.) come together in urgency and hope for their cities.

As we prepare for ministry in Bolivia, we are digging into a concept called “Gospel Ecosystems,” or a network of interdependent organizations, individuals, ideas, and spiritual and human forces that work together for Gospel transformation and human flourishing in a city/area. We invite you to learn with us! Below is a 17-minute video where Neil Powell explains the concept of these Gospel Ecosystems. We are excited to see how God will use collaborative movements for the good of the city of Santa Cruz and beyond.

  • Marina Shank

Many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that 2020 is over. But God only knows what 2021 will bring. Thankfully we have Good News that never changes!

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