*Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller
You can probably tell by now that I am a huge fan of Keller. I read this book in preparation for my first international mission trip after my freshman year in college. This book challenged me to advocate for social justice rooted in gospel truth, rather than my own “because it’s nice” stance. “Keller…presents the Bible as a fundamental source for promoting justice and compassion for those in need. In Generous Justice, he explores a life of justice empowered by an experience of grace: a generous, gracious justice. This book offers readers a new understanding of modern justice and human rights that will resonate with both the faithful and the skeptical.”
**Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie J. Davis
Ahhh! THIS BOOK. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. (Sorry, that’s my reaction every time it is mentioned.) This crossed my path the summer before I left for the Philippines for a semester. Mmm…and, boy, was that divine timing. By the end of this book I wanted to adopt 100 kids and live overseas for the rest of my life…my desires haven’t necessarily changed since. Katie goes down to the heart of what it looks like to passionately follow Jesus (no matter where you are). Her humble story of moving to Uganda right after high school and starting a Jesus-centered ministry sparks inspiration to all of her readers. Her stories and journey will make you laugh and cry, but most of all provoke you to follow Jesus radically.
Read this during my last semester of school for my bachelors in social work. Throughout my college career, I have developed a passion for the people negatively impacted by sex trafficking and exploitation. My last semester of school I worked with an anti-sex trafficking organization in my local area. While we mostly think of this happening overseas, Rachel’s story and explanations paint a vivid picture of what this issue looks like here in the United States. She wrote this book with a holistic approach to the issue addressing the culture, the victims, the pimps, law enforcement, the psychological/physical effects, and more. This book was hard (emotionally) to read, however it educates and deepens compassion to its readers.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
I read this during my stay in the Philippines in 2013. It is a heart-wrenching but impactful book. The authors collected a series of stories of women facing adversity all over the world. From sex trafficking to AIDS, this book opens up readers’ eyes to a global humanity. While I do agree that part of the solution of these issues are “education” or “socio-economic transformation,” I do believe the ultimate solution is redemption in Christ (this is not a Christian book). However, this is a great read for awareness and compassion for oppressed women in the developing world.
I had the privilege of being a part of a book study group while reading this book. This is probably the most impactful opportunity I had that transformed by perspective on the gay community. This book deepened my compassion, developed a sincere empathy, and provided practical ways to love this population. “Why are so many people who are gay wary of people who are Christians? Do GLBT people need to change who they are? Do Christians need to change what they believe? Love Is an Orientation is changing the conversation about sexuality and spirituality, and building bridges from the GLBT community to the Christian community and, more importantly, to the good news of Jesus Christ.”