Book Review: Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles

Steven Stiles attended Berkeley in the late 1960s. As he rubbed shoulders with revolutionaries, intellectuals, communist, atheist, agnostics, musicians, artists, witches, homeless, addicts, and street people, he wondered how the American church of the 1960s could speak truth into the lives of the diverse society. One day, a self proclaimed drunk and sinner spoke in his abnormal psychology class. To his surprise the woman was a Christian who spoke candidly about her love of Beefeater Gin and referred to herself as a sinner, a drunk, a liar, a thief, and an adulterer. Instead of someone claiming to be resolved of all their shortcomings, she openly shared her brokenness and failures with the class. To his surprise, the woman received an ovation at the end of the class simply because she was genuine and humble - something most of the students had never encountered with Christians.

Several days later, the woman invited Stiles to join her on a ride as she wanted to show him something. She took him to a campground outside the town where a group of people lived in tossed together shacks and old VW vans. Naked people on LSD trips wandered aimlessly while drums played and the odor of marijuana filled the air. Stiles watched the woman as she passed out store bought cigarettes and cans of coffee to the residents of the commune. They lit up their smokes and sat around and listened as she talked to them about Jesus. Stiles followed her example and became involved in street evangelism.

This is the true story of a youth director and a group of Jesus People in the 1970s that set out on street ministry with little money, limited support, and vague plans. The countless mechanical breakdowns, the joys and disappointments, all make up the journey of following the Good Shepherd. Stiles is completely transparent in his accounts of the groups experiences as he and the Jesus People consider God's intervention in their lives. He does not paint a rose colored water painting of their experiences. Instead he details their experiences and their struggles as they carefully listen and attempt to obey.

I highly recommend this book.

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