‘I Needed this Book’ John Smith on Resurrection Year
A few weeks ago I received a phone call from John Smith, the radical Australian minister, speaker and God’s Squad motorcycle club founder. I’d sent him a copy of Resurrection Year in the hope that he’d endorse it. The book had arrived after John had suffered a significant health scare and, as you can imagine, reading it wasn’t high on his priorities. But he did. And in that phone call he told me how much the book had moved him.
Merryn and I have been deeply touched by the kind words being said about my little book, whether through endorsements or reviews. But there was something about that phone call from John and the things he shared. ‘Forget about the word count,’ I said, referring to the two-to-three sentence length of the typical endorsement. ‘Just put into words what the book has meant to you.’
This is what John wrote.
I needed this book. My recommendation is personal.
Many thousands of books on the answers to everything have been added to my library over a lifetime of action and reflection on human suffering and marginalisation. Making sense of life’s contradictions has been a lifetime obsession for me. Therefore, I am not easily impressed by just any book that comes along on the subject.
Oh how I identify with the Voysey’s pilgrimage. I too have had flights of success: packed audiences at Greenbelt festivals; radio spots heard on over 100 stations; getting to present at the United Nations full hearing of the Human Rights Commission; the spread of God’s Squad ministry from the UK to the Ukraine, a half dozen EU nations, New Zealand and the USA; interviews with many TV hosts from David Frost to TV-am presentations.
But this success has been punctuated by grief: a destructive church split, my dismissal as ministry founder by my own organisational board, and an invasion by the big C (cancer) into my life during my Ph.D studies. I’ve had promising prophecies from charismatic preachers and ‘Spirit-filled’ friends about being healed. All the members of U2 even laid hands on me and prayed. I was healed of terminal heart disease through prayer decades ago, so why have I had no deliverance from cancer now? I’m still working, still infected, still hoping, and still questioning the quick fix faith doctrines I so often hear.
And so I thank God for this book.
Masses of folk have left the Christian faith or dismissed its relevance because of disillusionment from broken dreams and trite religious clichés. This book is a belated essential for thoughtful, suffering and caring people who refuse to fake it, hide it or deny it when faith doesn’t seem to do the mustard seed trick. Oh how I loved the amazing insight that we have a God who is ‘sometimes silent but never absent’. The book is eminently worth reading for this marvellous insight alone.
Resurrection Year is wonderfully readable—a book not only of great insights but a style of writing that is descriptive, emotive, refreshing, vulnerable and authentic. The one-liner chapters have the impact of a deep reflective breath. This is storytelling with immeasurable import.
As a lover of rigorous theology I often find autobiographies seriously lacking. But this one courageously raises the right questions, recognising contemporary theological developments concerning divine predetermination and the consequences of divinely granted cosmic and human freedom. Refusing glib or simplistic resolutions to an age-old dilemma, Resurrection Year copes with the ‘sound of silence’ without assuming the absence of divine love or providence. In this book, reality and mystery converse. Real theology and authentic experience share a painful, resurrection conversation. From a pastoral vantage point this book is a gem. To those who truly love one another the story is an eye-opener.
A childless couple’s wounds can be opened by watching one playful family with children in a park or on the beach. This is not only a book for those with broken dreams, but equally a book for those whose dreams have been fulfilled but who still bear the responsibility to ‘bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ’. It calls all true followers of Jesus to empathise and fellowship with those whose dreams are shattered and whose hopes are in limbo. It sounds remarkably like a conversation with Jesus.
Rev Dr. John Smith, missiologist, writer, teacher, preacher, social commentator, founder of several ministries including God’s Squad Motorcycle outreach and faith communities, grandfather of 17.