D. L. Mayfield has spent the past three years living among Minneapolis’s poor and immigrant communities as part of the missionary order InnerCHANGE. Here, Mayfield—also the author of CT’s 2014 cover story “Why I Gave Up Alcohol”—recommends 5 books for becoming a better neighbor.
The Voice of Witness series
Being a good neighbor starts and ends with listening—especially to voices we tend to ignore. The Voice of Witness series, created by a nonprofit of the same name, contains oral histories collected to “amplify unheard voices”—among them refugees, residents of low-income high-rises in Chicago, Palestinians, and female prison inmates. The power of first-person narratives is astonishing, and oral histories are at the forefront of cultivating compassion.
Disunity in Christ, by Christena Cleveland
Cleveland is a smart, funny social scientist who speaks to the church’s fundamental problems with listening. Pointing out how segregated we have become (ethnically, to be sure, but also theologically and culturally), she remarks on how puzzling it is that people committed to unity have such a hard time actually uniting. A key, for Cleveland, is acknowledging that bias feels good, and actively trying to overcome it. She also tackles our cultural idolatry of individualism and points out that, whether in churches or neighborhoods, homogeneity is never harmless.
Speaking of Jesus, by Carl Medearis
Too often, evangelism feels like an exercise in guilt, fear, and trying to convince others to join our “team.” Instead of “selling” others on Christianity, Medearis asks us to simply point to Jesus—who he was, what he did—and watch people ...1
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