You’ve all heard me on my soap-boxes before. I talk a good game when it comes to social justice – at least when it comes to human trafficking of young girls in India, or reaching out in friendship instead of charity to my friend Paulina in Kenya. Those things are all far removed from my everyday life, and I can rail at the machine and spew any manner of righteous anger about what we should be doing to walk alongside those who are hurting – at least those far away.
But when it comes to social justice in my own back yard, I admit, I falter. When it comes right down to it, I don’t like to trip over a drunk man sleeping off his demons in my office doorway. I don’t like my bus-stop solitude to be interrupted by the young man trying to bum a cigarette or a few bucks for food. I don’t like to be inconvenienced by the poverty in my own neighbourhood. I know it sounds self-centred and uncompassionate, but it’s true.
So when my friend Steve handed me the book Bent Hope and told me I would love it, I was skeptical. How could I possibly love a book full of the stories of people living on the street? How could that be an uplifting experience that would leave me feeling anything other than guilty about my lack of compassion?
I took the book along on our recent weekend at the lake none-the-less. So far, I’ve never gone wrong reading something Steve recommended, so I thought I should at least give it a try.
What can I say? Steve was right. This book is nothing short of brilliant. You should ALL read it. Really. It will change you. It will change the way you look at the “drunk” sleeping in the office doorway or the “punk” trying to bum a cigarette. It will make you want to sit down beside someone on the street and listen to their story.
Tim Huff has an uncanny way of bending words into incredible stories and undeniable wisdom. More than that, though, he has an uncanny way of seeing through the dirt under the fingernails, the smell of yesterday’s alcohol, and the bitterness of a life gone off the rails to the nugget of truth and beauty underneath. He doesn’t sugarcoat life on the streets – no, it’s raw and real and ugly – but what he does is recognize the tiny light of hope – even if it’s badly bent out of shape and barely recognizable - shining through each person he meets.
Here’s the thing – more than just a powerful set of stories, this book renews my desire to believe in God. This book reminds me that if we set aside the many failures of the church, the messed up legalism and hate disguised as "WWJD", the narrow-mindedness and judgementalism – if we set all of that aside and look to the pure and unadulterated message and life of Jesus, we will find what we’ve all been aching for – hope. Tim Huff is out on the streets trying to live out that message of hope in a way that few pastors, televangelists, or social justice soap-box shouters have ever done. Not only that, but he’s letting the light of hope shine through the stories and lives of messed up people to teach those of us who’ve let cynicism blind us that it really is okay to dream of a different future.
Bent Hope will give you hope.