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27 February 2018

Five books to inspire hope

We asked five contributors to this issue of idea to recommend one book that inspired them with hope.

Immaculée Ilibagiza; Hay House UK

Left to Tell is the heartrending story of Immaculée's survival through the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The book was published 12 years after those horrendous 100 days in which more than a million people were killed.

Rwanda was brutally transformed from a breathtakingly beautiful homeland into a darkness littered with burnt buildings and bloodied bodies. Immaculée, a Tutsi, and seven other women, were forced to hide in a tiny bathroom. A Hutu pastor concealed them for 91 days with barely enough food to survive. As Rwanda was tearing itself apart, the main battle of this story takes place inside Immaculée's head: "All we have left is hope so let us hold on to it." She struggles to repel doubt, hatred and anger as she holds onto hope and learns forgiveness, even to those who don't deserve it. She grows closer to God through continual prayer.

I was overwhelmed by the hope, bravery and faith Immaculée demonstrated despite being a heartbeat away from doubt, despair and death. It is a story of more than survival; it is one of forgiveness and hope … hope for the genocide survivors and hope for a broken world.

Recommended by Amisadai Monger, winner of our under 18s short story competition. 

Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley; SPCK Publishing

I found it inspiring how the Lord used Churchill's nanny, Elizabeth Anne Everest, to be a life-long influence on Winston. The book tells the story of his difficulties in childhood, yet how he knew he was going to help Britain in a crisis. God used his nanny to teach him to pray and instil Christian values in his life. It shows how the Lord can use an unknown, ordinary lady to influence a child who God would use in later life. I was amazed that when Churchill died at 90 years old, he had a photo of his nanny at his bedside. Love makes the difference.

Recommended by: Marilyn Harry, evangelist with Elim Wales.

Andrew Murray; Hardpress Publishing

Reading this book fills me with faith and hope. Murray is a passionate writer – passionate about Christ, and the ability for every believer to be thoroughly transformed through their relationship with Him.

Murray's take on the 'full blessing' is to have such a closeness and intimacy with Christ and his love, that victory over sin is found and a greater freedom known. Not through striving or human attempts at holiness, however. The key, Murray argues, is surrender of self and real faith: truly believing that Christ has won for us the entrance into the presence of God through His blood.

This little book is a great mixture of inspiration and challenge. It makes me ask myself what I have my faith in, and whether I'm really believing the promises of scripture. Ultimately, it gives me hope that a closer relationship with Christ is possible, and makes me hungry for this to happen, for myself and for all Christians.

Recommended by: Heather Tomlinson, guest editor of idea.

Jurgen Moltmann; SCM Press

This is the book that I find most helpful on hope. Moltmann published this book in the mid- 1960s, around 20 years after his experience as a German prisoner of war held in in Belgium and Britain after the end of the second world war. Theology of Hope basically is an argument which says that if you get that Jesus is the hope for the world, you gain a sense of perspective on the world and on your life that you don't otherwise catch. It's also a book that argues that our theology is therefore important. So no surprise that I like it, I guess. It's obviously an old book now but I prefer to think of it as a classic on hope.

Recommended by: Calvin Samuel, principal of the London School of Theology.

Shane Claiborne; Zondervan

I recently read this book and was struck by both the challenge and hope of the call to live as radical disciples of Jesus. It's a few years old now but the challenges to consumerism, selfishness and shallow Christianity are as relevant as ever. What I love about Claiborne's writing is that he doesn't fall into the trap of negativity that can often befall creative, missional and prophetic thinkers. He's incredibly challenging but there are tones and examples of hope right throughout the book. You may not agree with everything he says but it's impossible not to be inspired by the picture of radical discipleship and community that he paints. As someone who is part of an incarnational mission team it inspires me to see the possibilities of hope for our community as the Kingdom of God is lived out in our local area.

Recommended by: Kieran Turner, public policy officer, Evangelical Alliance Scotland.

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