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Butterfly in Brazil: How Your Life Can Make a World of Difference Paperback – July 1, 2007
From Publishers Weekly
Lots of folks dream of dramatically changing the world for God, but many don't really try to do it. Desperation Band member Packiam clues readers in on why so many fall short and offers wonderful insight into how to start. Instead of waiting for great things to happen, we should be asking God, 'What do I do about this idea now?'... Everything that God has put inside us must be expressed and acted on here and now—or it will never multiply and grow. The little things we do now, he says, can be transformed into big things for God. Packiam uses the biblical story of Nehemiah as a backdrop for his discussion of the secrets of creating lasting change, which he says is small, local and gradual. Packiam calls readers to stay focused, recognizing that change must be accompanied by love and that it will ultimately cost something. This is a clear and necessary call to change Christians' thinking about how to best live for God. Packiam's writing and message are strong: When everyone is faithful with what they have to do, right where they are, over long periods of time, together we make an impact large enough to change the world. (July)
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Packiam shares from his own life growing up. The son of a Hindu who later converted to Christianity, he talks about the awkwardness that comes in crossing cultures. His self-deprecating style is funny and endearing. A graduate of Oral Roberts University, Packiam spent several years around students who felt they had a great destiny on their lives. Yet with the promise of greatness, he writes, "If we live each life as if it's a stepping-stone to greatness, we will find ourselves living each moment at half-speed." He argues that God wants us to act on our hearts today in the here and now and not wait for what may come. Significance doesn't happen somewhere else but here in the now.
Using the story of Nehemiah as a Biblical backbone for the book, Packiam points to an ordinary man who made an extraordinary difference through his leadership and commitment to rebuilding a wall. He highlights the struggles and triumphs of Nehemiah's journey and draws timeless inspiration from the classic Bible story.
Throughout the book, Packiam draws on oft-told stories from Christian history. He retells or shares lessons and famous quotes from the stories of Polycarp, Nate Saint and David Livingston, to name just a few. But his best writing and most engaging chapters come from his own life and the people he's known personally.
In a memorable chapter called "Testing Your Wings," Packiam recounts the story of Ben, a young man who was part of his church. The author talks about Ben's passion for the people of Nepal and how he eventually moved overseas to share the hope of God with those who didn't know him. He traveled to homes and schools, teaching English, music and theology to the Tibetan Christians. The journey was not easy. Several excerpts from Ben's journal reveal bouts with loneliness, sickness and isolation. Still, Ben was committed to loving people and fulfilling his calling. His life was cut short due to a motorcycle accident on the way back from visiting a remote group of people in the mountains. In response to Ben's commitment and sacrifice, a team of five young men and women followed in his footsteps and committed to going to Nepal and reaching that same group.
The core message of BUTTERFLY IN BRAZIL is simple: Be faithful with what you have. Be significant where you are. Don't give up. Love deeply, passionately and personally. But these are messages that we all need to be reminded of. And as demonstration of these principles, a portion of the proceeds of the book is being donated to World Relief, an organization that helps those in need around the world. So go ahead and dream. Yes, you still can change the world.
--- Reviewed by Margaret Oines
Packiam delves into this idea with precision, using the story of Nehemiah as an example of, "an ordinary man who ended up making an extraordinary difference." Showing how God has chosen to intertwine himself and His supernatural nature into our mannish and gritty lives, Packiam paints a clear picture of how we should go about living a life of lasting impact...as participants in a divine improv, not chained to a script, but nonetheless completely ineffective and awkward outside the director's basic framework.
Most of all this is a book about creating lasting change. His main points: 1) change is small 2) change is local 3) change is gradual 4) change is costly. He explains that while Christian culture often encourages its youth to change the world, "Trying to change the world is the surest way to guarantee that we won't." Instead Packiam encourages us to be faithful in the small things over a long period of time and as Jim Elliot so simply, but profoundly put it, "Wherever you are, be all there."
Some of the book got a bit repetitive but that's to be expected I think. He was trying to drive his point home using multiple examples and ways.
Want to make a difference? Start small.