Hope IT is influenced by key books, from people in our lives, and key books shaping our vision and perspectives. We recommend these books, as we think you may also benefit from reading these books, so we list them here. There are many but we pick the 7 most influential books that help shape and inspire Hope IT.
1. Tatoos of the Heart (Greg Boyle): This book is key to Hope IT to even being a reality. It’s important the setting is in Los Angeles. It’s important that the book is about young people that need just need to hear God loves them, that the Church will walk with them, and that God intends a good future for them. This books shares stories of how these young folks take steps to transform their lives. It’s a story of faith, not so much about success.
2. Walking with the Poor (Bryant Myers): This book is long, but very worth reading, and re-reading. The main point is that we need to include faith and God’s story, noticing how God is working in the community. Just giving a community new technology (either computer skills or a new well for clean water) could stir the community to believe science is the new “god” to worship, when we miss that we need to see God working and providing these technology gifts, to transform us all. This is why Hope IT is faith-based.
3. The Way of the Heart (Henri Nouwen): Those in ministry could easily just keep working and working, beginning to think they are the heart of the ministry. It’s an alarming mistake. We need to stop, pray, and even just be silent. Henri shows us how to find the way to pray, be silent, and seek solitude, and then maybe we have something to offer others.
4. The Cross and the Lynching Tree (James Cone): It took me 50 years to get to this book. I was so sick reading this. How in the world did it take me this long to read this? How has the faith community in the US so completely failed our Black brothers and sisters? Are we blind? Do we continue to be blind? This book reminds us to carefully listen, and to partner and encourage our Black brothers and sisters.
5. The Prophetic Imagination (Walter Brueggemann): This was first published 40 years ago. It’s still eye-popping. God is always doing a new thing. Are we prepared to allow it to occur? Are we listening to the cries of the people? Do we allow for many voices — even critical ones — to be heard? Will we bring energy to the new things God is doing? In this book, we are pushed to imagine faithful alternatives.
6. Our God is Undocumented (Ched Myers/Matthew Colwell): One of these authors is my pastor! I spent 2.5 years working on immigration issues after the 2016 Presidential election. How do we in the Church view strangers? Do we care for their struggles? My personal story is an immigrant one, where my parents immigrated to the US as refugees after World War II. My mom was also born in a Japanese prison camp in Indonesia. My family has stories of being detained. Can the Church in the US find ways to help those desperately seeking a safe and secure place to live (that is not in a detention center)? This book shows why Scripture compels us to care for our migrating brothers and sisters, and shares key stories of a few that have already done so.
7. Making Housing Happen (Jill Shook): It may seem like this book is only about how we have such a homelessness and affordable housing crisis in the US. But this book also shows a rich variety of how groups of people came up with imaginative ways to come up with housing solutions. This is a book on how people of faith made ways for mercy, compassion, and hope. It’s very inspiring. Mike has worked with Jill on many efforts over the last 10 years, and Hope IT would not be a reality without her vision, imagination, encouragement, and example of faith.