Upholding the Vision: Serving the Poor in Training and Beyond
Foreword by John Perkins
Paperback: 3rd Edition, 2016
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Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
The Hebrew prophets described the flourishing that God intends for creation as shalom, which we could today translate as health in the deepest and most holistic sense. And nowhere is the lack of shalom more evident today than some of the most broken and economically-deprived places. We would do well to work toward to health and shalom of these places. Indeed, the Christian Community Health Fellowship (CCHF) has been working toward this end for almost 40 years, and they have just released the third edition of their helpful book Upholding the Vision, which articulates why working for the health of our poorer neighbors is vital, Kingdom work.
CCHF notes that “a big part of what we do is reaching out to Christians during their (medical) training years,” and indeed most of the brief essays in this volume – written by contributors such as Bob Lupton and Ron Sider – are aimed at young people in or preparing for medical school. The essays do cast a vision for medical practice that is deeply rooted in the reconciliation that God is bringing in creation, and they fit well together in articulating a broad case for working in healthcare in economically-challenged areas. Although I wish some of the theology were a little deeper and although I have some qualms with the book’s frequent appeals to “the poor,” this is a thought-provoking introductory book that offers a new paradigm for understanding healthcare within the mission of God. I recommend this book for all young people who are pre-med students, or even considering the possibility of studying medicine, nursing or some other healthcare-related discipline. And not only should these students read this book, they also should connect with CCHF and join in the very important conversation about how best to care for the health and well-being of all people, and especially those in economically-challenged areas that have historically not had access to quality healthcare.
C. Christopher Smith is founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books, co-author of Slow Church, and author of the forthcoming book, Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish(IVP, Summer 2016).