Out of the Saltshaker (by Rebecca Manley Pippert)

I don’t know how long we’ve had the book ‘Out of the Saltshaker’. I don’t know anything about the author, Rebecca Manley Pippert, either, other than what’s mentioned in the pages of the book. But in browsing through my shelves of Christian books, I realised that it’s been quite some time - over ten years - since I last read this, and also that I liked it very much.

So over the past couple of weeks I’ve been re-reading this, a chapter - or less - at a time, and not every day. It’s been a very busy time of year with family visiting. I quickly remembered that the author was mostly writing about students, and that she was based on the United States. Neither aspect makes the content culturally relevant - yet there’s plenty in this to inspire and encourage.

The book is about evangelism - spreading the good news of Jesus - as a lifestyle. The first part of the book is about Jesus himself, and what it means to follow him. And despite not finding anything new in the text, I found the writing engaging and well expressed. There are anecdotes about the author’s experiences in trying to live out her beliefs, including times when she made mistakes. The style is relaxed and informal, and the advice given is, in my view, excellent.

The second part of the book is more overtly directed to the student community, with suggestions for becoming involved in other people’s lives, and gently exploring issues of faith. But again, what she says could be relevant to anyone. She encourages believers to make friends, not for the purpose of ‘winning souls’, as some might put it, but because they’re lovable people made in God’s image. She reminds readers not to try and ram the Gospel down anyone’s throat, nor to try and use techniques that make them feel uncomfortable.

This book was first published in 1979, and of course the world has changed in many ways since then, particularly regarding technology. Inevitably it’s dated; a revised version might explore use of mobile phones or social media to reach out to others. Apparently, there have been some updates; there are still versions in print, on both sides of the Atlantic, and some related resources available too.

But everything that was written even in my version nearly forty years ago is still relevant today. I would recommend this highly to any students, or indeed anyone else who would like to introduce their friends and acquaintances to Jesus, but has not the slightest idea how to go about it.

Review copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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