These books address current issues of social justice, some from a Christian and some from a secular point of view. I consider all essential reading for those who take seriously the command to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.” Micah 6:8.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

In Radical, David Platt looks at how Christianity in America has become far too comfortable; how the American church has often remade Jesus in its own image. For those who have taken the Perspectives class and understand the concept of syncretism, it may still come as a shock to realize that as Americans we are guilty of the same process that we often see take place in other cultures of distorting Biblical truth because of our cultural world view. This book represents a refreshing challenge to let the Bible speak clearly and to take a radical approach to obedience. Amazon

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

This book is a must read for all those involved in any kind of short-term outreach or missions work, but really should be required reading for all Christians. Through simple but compelling arguments, the authors challenge us to look more carefully at the affects of well-intentioned but often misguided attempts to help the poor. This book is both Biblical and practical will illustrations from both Scripture and the best academic research. At the same time it is neither preachy nor dry but manages to keep the message clear and personal. Amazon

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just by Tim Keller

This book is one of the best I have ever read at clearly laying out the relationship between salvation (God’s work of grace in a redeemed sinner) and works (acts of grace expressed by believers toward others because of the grace they have received). Keller is simply the best at laying bare the essence of a Biblical truth and expressing it in language that is fresh and applicable. His arguments speak to both ends of the political spectrum, as well as multiple camps within the Christian church that often divide over emphasizing preaching the gospel or caring for practical needs. Amazon

The Urban Halo by Craig Greenfeld

Craig Greenfeld along with his wife has lived and served among the poor in the slums of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His wholistic approach to helping abandoned and orphaned children while keeping them in their community is backed up with detailed research on how separating children into orphanages often does not serve their needs. This is a thought provoking and challenging book about how to care for the most needy. Amazon

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Half the Sky makes a poignant and powerful case for the importance of advancing the rights of women through education and health initiatives. The authors use a combination of statistics and research along side personal stories of adversity and triumph to demonstrate both the depth of need and the techniques that are proving highly effective in meeting these needs. This book should be a must read for every person interested in human rights and working in other cultures. Though written from a secular point of view, Half the Sky has much to say to the church about bringing real hope to some of the most oppressed people in the world: women and girls. Amazon

There Is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Her Country’s Children by Melissa Fay Green

This book illustrates the power of what William Blake described as “to see the world in a grain of sand.” This story of one woman’s effort to meet the needs of children orphaned through AIDs in Addas Ababa, Ethiopia becomes an occasion for building an understanding of many of the larger issues surrounding the AIDs pandemic and the havoc it is wreaking, especially in Africa as well as issued surrounding cross-cultural adoption. Threaded through the narrative is a discussion of the history of AIDs and the reprehensible role that American pharmaceutical companies had in blocking access to treatment that could have prevented a generation of orphans. One review I read on Amazon warned readers not to expect to read this book over a latte at Starbucks. I should have read this review before I read the book, for I found myself at one point having to leave Coffee Bean because I couldn’t stop crying as I read about how corporate greed has made AIDs treatment unreachable for so many.

The author focuses on one rescuer, Haregewoin Teferra, who with little help or support, began to open her modest home to thrown away and abandoned children. Haregewoin is not a saint, but presented as a real person, with strengths and weaknesses and the various episodes from her life and experience leave no aspect of AIDs devastation uncovered. This book is required reading for families working with agencies adopting from Ethiopia.

The author adopts two Ethiopian children herself and follows several others as they find homes in America, describing the challenges and joys of the process. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding AIDs, understanding Africa, or considering adoption from a third-world country. Amazon