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Break Open the Sky: Saving Our Faith from a Culture of Fear Paperback – May 23, 2017
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“We live in a brave new world where terrorism, racism, and bigotry drive an engine of fear in our society and within our churches. Bauman tackles these topics head-on, compelling us by God’s love and exciting us by his grace to reject fear, embrace risk, and rediscover faith to care for people in the shadows. Break Open the Sky is a much-needed and valuable work that speaks to our current landscape in a fresh, new way.”
—Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Distinguished Endowed Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College
"I think I can say that it is one of the best books I've read this year, a study of global pressures, social concern, and why fear seems to grip us in ways that aren't helpful or faithful. Formerly the director of World Relief, Stephan and his wife have travelled all over the world and the stories here are from brave folks on every continent. This is incisive in its examination of why we are too often unwilling to follow God's call into the world of need, offering service and faithfulness, and he inspires us gently to care more, understand more, give more of ourselves to be present to the pain and the joy of it all. It ends up being—it doesn't say this until the end and you then see it—a study of the Beatitudes. What a great book about how to live well in our fearful, complicated, even dangerous times."
“Rarely do I read something with such deep spiritual analysis, profound insight, and poetic storytelling as Stephan Bauman’s new book Break Open the Sky. For those who think they already know the good news of Christ but still long for more, this short, honest, and beautifully written book is what you have been waiting for. Break Open the Sky is a timeless contribution to Christian and human spirituality.”
—Ken Wytsma, president of Kilns College, founder of The Justice Conference, and the author of The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God and the Necessity of Faith
“A journey not for the faint of heart, Break Open the Sky is an invitation to live out an authentic faith in the midst of fear…, an invitation to hope!”
—Tom Lin, president and CEO of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
“Humanitarian Stephan Bauman has witnessed love conquering fears, but he has also seen fear stymie faith’s best intentions. His lessons from his life of global service can help us shed our fears and reawaken our commitments to that ‘sociological impossibility,’ the global Christian community.”
—David Neff, former editor in chief of Christianity Today (retired)
“In uncertain and anxious times, Break Open the Sky is a critically important book for those who want not just to survive but to thrive. It is for those who want to find joy and power and impact in any season, especially the challenging ones. This is must reading for anyone who wants to go deeper into God and deeper into the real world we live in. This book couldn’t be more timely.”
—Rev. Bill Haley, executive director of Coracle
“In the tumultuous days we are living in, when fear seems to be overtaking the hearts of so many, Stephan Bauman’s Break Open the Sky comes like a torch in the darkness. This book amplifies the very good news of an upside-down kingdom and is a clarion call to live out a faith that is honest, gritty, and beautiful.”
—Rob Morris, president and cofounder of Love146
“Stephan has been an eyewitness to real fear factors that have disrupted lives and derailed nations. With this book Stephan delivers a rich treasure trove of personalities and stories accumulated in his journey through this globe’s minefield of violence, disaster, and disregard. This book is an entertaining and thought-provoking travel guide offering a way to joy in the midst of insecurity.”
—Steve Haas, catalyst, World Vision
“Stephan Bauman’s artistry with words puts a new lens on old truths and a new way to view the events of our day that leave me feeling encouraged and courageous. This book is a must read for individuals, small groups, and university classes who truly want to live as God’s peculiar people—fearless when the world says to be fearful, seeing abundance when the world cleaves to its storehouses of wealth, seeing ‘the other’ as the ones who Jesus calls us to reach out to, especially now.”
—Dr. Beth Birmingham, senior director of Leadership and Staff Development, Compassion International; Associate Faculty, Eastern University
“Stephan Bauman is a unique mix of visionary, poet, strategist, and pastoral leader. Break Open the Sky is a book of hope in a world gripped by a culture of fear. Hope is out there. It may be messy and raw, but it’s glorious. Life isn’t about living with an absence of fear; it’s about taking the risk to love anyway. Stephan points to a deeper understanding of the nature of God, one that he’s witnessed firsthand in countless stories from around the world.”
—Mark and Vickie Reddy, The Justice Conference
“Break Open the Sky is not just a title …. It breaks open your heart, mind and soul with a hunger to pursue more. Packed with conviction and examples of real faith in the most desperate places in the world, wrapped with a depth of love that Jesus longs to see in all His people. A word desperately needed in these times!”
—Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, General Superintendent, Emerita, The Wesleyan Church
About the Author
Stephan Bauman is the author of Seeking Refuge and Possible and the former president of World Relief, a church-based international relief and development agency that reaches more than five million vulnerable people a year. An ordained minister, he holds degrees from John Hopkins University, Wheaton College, and the University of Wisconsin. Stephan and his wife, Belinda, and their two sons live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Top customer reviews
Both Bible, and Christians elsewhere can teach so much on meekness, peacemaking, being poor in spirit, faith, truth, and love. This book is not self-help guide #67,873 to become better people. It hopes to rediscover God's plan with mankind to shine His light, provide hope and shelter, make His Kingdom visible on Earth. Christian life should be divine and dusty, uncertain, and adventurous again. Bauman shares a lot from his experience on Mercy Ships and mission field trips throughout the world. He knows the theologians and thinkers he's quoting, and really appeals to fellow believers that find their lives locked up in this very cage of fear that shouldn't be there. Let's break open the sky, and disrupt the culture of fear!
Consider this sentence for example: - “I am convinced that much of what we call faith is really not faith at all; instead it’s a culture that has developed around faith. More broadly, I am concerned our version of Christianity has become, in part, only an echo of the real thing.”
Bauman continues to explain that much of the church is driven by sales, growth, and numbers more than love, charity, and service to the downcast.
The book is roughly centered around Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes, though it would be hard to pin it down there exactly. Each of these sentences from Jesus’ famous teaching in Matthew 5 is touched upon and usually, an application is made from a story from a far-off country Bauman either lived or served in.
Great lessons of faith to learn to overcome fear are presented in multiple stories. Wonderful sentences such as this are to be found throughout - “…that we can make suffering an intimate friend is a notion as old as our faith, but it is reserved for those willing to view suffering as an unlikely teacher, yet one dripping with wisdom.”
At the heart of the book is love, God’s love working itself out through those of us that have received it. “Unlike grace, which requires revelation, love requires demonstration-tangible expressions of compassion through everyday actions, not just words.” The author actually expects his readers to overcome fear and walk in love towards those among us that need it the most. How novel of a thought in our day, yet how powerful!
We are challenged in each chapter to step out of our comfort zone and into helping others. We can learn a great deal from others as we lay aside our prejudices and preconceived ideas. Wisdom often comes disguised in a trial or even a bag lady, if we have eyes to see.
The book’s purpose to me seems to be to help move us from inaction to action, from self to outward love, from fear to faith, and not just any kind of faith but the kind of faith James wrote about – being seen by our actions.
Well worth the read and is thought provoking on multiple levels. This book was provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.