A woman is left alone for two weeks with her husband's best friend. He flirts, she makes the wrong choice. She regrets, her husband doesn't forgive. She's finds herself divorced, alone, broken....
A man grows up in the slums of a Costa Rican city. He's abused by his father and drinks to forget ....
A wealthy business man has it all, drive for success, status, big house, every material possession he could ever desire, neglected family.....
An angry, bitter woman in Bolivia, decides she's going to change the social injustices and rampant inequality of educational and job opportunities in her country. She runs to Cuba and becomes one of Che Guevara's henchmen, committing murder and acts of terrorism...
A Marxist leader enjoys the power and privileges of belonging to the upper echelons of a totalitarian regime in another South American country...
What do all these people have in common?
I once read a Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schultz, the creator of Charlie Brown. In it Sally, Charlie Brown's sister, is jumping rope. Suddenly she stops and bursts into heart rending sobs. Linus comes running up to her and asks what's wrong, what happened? Sally looks at him and replies, “I don't know. Suddenly it all seemed so futile.”
And that's the answer to the question. Each of these people came to a point in their lives where they lost their raison d'etre. They could no longer see the point of what they were doing. Something was missing from their lives. It all seemed so futile.
In Changed by Faith, Luis Palau introduces us to several such people and also includes many personal stories about his own family. He describes being raised in Argentina by a workaholic father who finally came to faith only to die when Palau was ten. Even though Palau was raised in a Christian home, it took many years of grinding poverty as his mother attempted to singlehandedly raise seven children and some Bible teachers that didn't pull any punches for Palau to finally come to true Christian commitment and faith.
And that is the second group of people he addresses in the book. People who have grown up in church, consider themselves Christians but have arrived at the same sense of meaninglessness that the above-mentioned people had come to. Palau tells us how sterile Christians can come to the joy-filled life of victory, purpose and meaning when they truly surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.
Much of the problem, Palau asserts, is that even many Christians don't read the Bible. Either they don't truly study the scriptures, or they pick and choose what they will believe and obey. This can only lead to the same hollow living that unbelievers endure.
The most interesting part of the book for me as a believer, is the personal stories of the people I described at the beginning of this essay and how each of them turned from a life ignoring God, rejecting God, or even raging against God- to a life devoted to Him.
For people who are in the same boat, this book contains solid scriptural teaching that can lead each “dry and thirsty” soul to the “Streams of water” that never run dry and eternally satisfy.
One negative: At the end of the book Palau tags on, almost as an afterthought, constructive ways Christians can live victoriously by helping their community. Of course that is a good thing, but when he went on to describe strategies to do so he started sounding like he was preaching the social gospel. When he sited good examples from the books, "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller and "The Shack" by William P. Young I had to scratch my head. Both of these books deviate from scripture in defining Christianity and even the Trinity. Since Palau spends a good part of the middle section of his book discussing the need to become biblically literate and testing everything with scripture, I think he needs to practice what he preaches.
However, it's possible that he didn't actually read either book but simply heard about them because the rest of his book is quite orthodox.
In conclusion,I recommend this book for people who are not Christians but are searching for “the thing” that is missing in their lives; for people who consider themselves Christians but suffer from a sense of emptiness; for new Christians; and finally, for believers who would like to understand how to counsel the aforementioned groups.
I received this complementary copy from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.