"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

Review: The Rabbit and the Elephant

For those who are aware of the various issues surrounding simple, house or organic church, the name of Tony and Felicity Dale will not be unfamiliar. In case, you are unaware, they are part of the team behind House2House. So what happens when trained physicians, together with the most frequently misquoted statistician - George Barna, wrote a book about rabbit and elephant? Let me then assured you that this is not another zoological book but the zoological book. It is a book primarily about reproduction, but of a different kind.

The official write up on the book says that:

If you put two elephants in a room together and close the door, in 22 months you may get one baby elephant. But two rabbits together for the same amount of time will result in thousands of baby rabbits! In The Rabbit and the Elephant, “micro church” planters Tony and Felicity Dale use the “rabbit” illustration to show the pace at which the Christian faith can (and should) be growing - through evangelism that is explosive and transformational. The Rabbit and the Elephant contains the key to 21st century evangelism - taking the gospel to where the pain and the people are.

The most praiseworthy element of the book is that it is filled with many real life examples or testimonies of how things got work out. This definitely brings salvation for those who aren't really into abstract deadened theories. In fact, having case studies not only will help us in blood circulation, it also proves itself to be workable. But caution has to be given at this point in time, not to use this book and turn it into another model and outward form on ekklesiology or evangelism. Instead, think of how the practical stuffs mentioned in the book can revitalised your walk with Christ. On the flip side, don't expect pinpoint clarity on every doctrinal issues possible arranged in systematical order. I don't think that is the intention of the book.

Certainly, this book has its magical moments on me when I was reading it. While I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who is interested in mission, I would also suggest that this book be treated as the appetiser, because I do believe that it is of utmost importance to grasp the talk about being organic, both on an individual and corporate basis. Put in other words, it is about understanding that all outward manifestations are simply the direct results of the inward Life.

More can be said, but below is the excerpt of just one story in the book, among many others, which I love most:

Shanti was a priestess to her fishing village community, serving the goddess of wealth. from an early age she tried to serve her gods by spending hours in worship at the local shrines, where she was revered for her spirituality. One day her brother, a recent Christian convert, gave her a picture of the Holy spirit descending as a dove on Jesus at His baptism. Shanti added this picture to her shrine of idols and began to worship the picture along with her gods.

A few days later, while she was worshipping the picture, a bright light filled the room. For hours she was lost in the presence of the living God. Her life was changed as she realised that Jesus was the one she was looking for. She shared this with her brother, who explained to her how to become a Christian through the saving work of Christ.

When Shanti renounced her idols, she was beaten by the local Hindu priests; her husband threw her out of the house. Destitute and homeless, she survived by begging for six years, giving much time to prayer and fasting whenever there was no food.

After six years, God challenged Shanti to feed at least ten people a day, even though she was just a beggar herself. From this inauspicious start, right in the village where she had been thrown out of the local temple, she began to build up a congregation of people willing to follow Jesus. When we met Shanti, that number had grown to two hundred. Today, a band of about fifty young people go out with her every week to the surrounding villages and share their testimony of what Jesus is doing in their lives. Within two weeks of the conference where we shared, Shanti's group had started half a dozen new churches.

You can also read the first chapter here.

This review is part of Tyndale Blog Network, of which I have received a free review copy from Tyndale House Publishers.


Felicity Dale said...

Thank you for a great review of our book. You have really captured the heart of it when you say it is not intended to be theoretical or a book on methodology (heaven forbid!) but that we long that people leave behind the pew or couch and get out into a world that so desperately needs to encounter "Jesus with skin on."

Elvin said...

Hi Felicity,

Thanks for passing by. Indeed, Tony and your love for the people has been a great challenge to most of us. I hope it will rub off on me.