Books for the Journey

Books are my most faithful companion. I am seldom anywhere without a book.

Books tell a story beyond its own – they tell my story. They follow and inform my thoughts, my ideas, my beliefs. You can look at my shelf and know a lot about me.

Here is a record of the books that are adopted into my life. Some amuse me, some transform me.


Penner, Marv. Help – My Kids Are Hurting: A survival guide to working with students in pain

This book should be mandatory reading for anyone in youth ministry. Penner spends the first half of the book building a framework for working with youth who are hurting and finding ways to mask or deal with this hurt in all different ways. He talks about boundaries, various styles of caring and what hurting kids want from us. He affirms the trained and untrained workers in their capacity to walk alongside hurting youth simply because they care and reminds us that ultimately God cares for the youth under our charge more than any of us could. He then provides an overview of the common challenges we are likely to face with youth who are hurting by providing some understanding, suggestions for how to respond or not to respond, and suggested reading to dive deeper into the topic. Penner manages to take the reader into the dark and often secret parts of teenagers in such a way that gives us hope.

Penner, Marv. Hope and Healing for Kids who Cut.

This is another must read for anyone who works with teenagers. Cutting and other forms of self harm are increasingly common coping skills for teenagers and young adults, and yet is one of the least understood among those who have no experience. Penner compassionately describes what self harm is and what it is not, some of the telling signs, why youth cut and some of the underlying issues and core beliefs that reinforce a cycle of addiction that makes it very hard to give up this coping mechanisms. He approaches this difficult topic from a deeply Christian understanding, finding hope ultimately in a God who cares for hurting youth and that the greatest gift that we can give is our presence and our constant assurance that there is hope in a God who loves them, scars and all. While these youth typically need professional help to get some of the underlying issues, Penner claims that youth also need a caring community in order to find more helpful ways of coping. One of the ways we can walk with youth who cut is to find ways in which we can challenge core beliefs (e.g that they don’t matter, that they are unloveable, and that they don’t belong.

Reade, D.S. Superheroes, Saviors and Sinners without Secrets: Untold twists and tales of life on earth with Christ.

This is a beautiful book of reflections on one’s journey and wrestling with being gay. Unlike most books that I have read so far on the topic of LGBTQ+ community and the church, this book refreshingly does not try to make an argument around whether one can be partnered or how to wrestle with the Scriptures that are common discussion in the Church on non-heterosexual relationships. Instead, Reade shares an honest journey of trying to be friends with other men – the deep longing to have friendship but the fear of friendship turning into romantic attraction. His raw account speaks of the loneliness that people in his shoes face. Whatever your opinions are about LGBTQ+ orientations, behaviours, and relationships, this is an important book for the church to read as it outlines the struggles and need for deep friendship and non-sexual love.




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