Grace Can Lead You Home
A Book Review
By Brandon Brown
In the final chapter of his upcoming book, Grace Can Lead Us Home, Kevin Nye writes "Homelessness will be ended not because a few politicians have epiphanies and make new polices. It will be because communities, housed and unhoused together, force change because they won't tolerate the status quo any longer." Nye uses the language of being housed or unhoused, which, I think, is a good shift in the language when speaking of those who we call homeless. Of course, as with any shift in language, this is not, as Nye states, "a replacement for actually acting for good on their behalf." This is one of the reasons Nye has written this excellent "Christian call to end homelessness."
Nye bases the Christian call to end homelessness within a theological framework. As someone shaped by Wesleyan theology, he sees this initially in the Sermon on the Mount and in the judgement scene in Matthew 25 in which Jesus speaks of doing to the least of these as ministering to him. I find his question about how much would change if we took the claim that every unhoused person is a reflection of Jesus seriously as a challenge to shift thinking on those who are unhoused.
Within this book, Nye gives an overview of the many root causes of homelessness and the various approaches to solving the unhoused crisis. The difference in what Nye discusses versus the many discussions within evangelical Christian circles is that Nye rejects the behavioral model which insists upon change before working to solve the actual issue of not having a place in which one is housed. This is really no different from the core truth of the Gospel that we are called to come and receive forgiveness as a first step in discipleship with Jesus. We are not called to be perfect or fit a checklist before our encounter with Jesus. Why would we require the same for those without homes? I connect Nye's explanation with my own previous experience in food insecurity. We gave food out without regard to any requirements for personal responsibility, as the need for food must be solved before the person needing food can process any other changes.
Nye also shows how the traditional models of homeless work is often not based in the areas in which the unhoused find themselves. This requires those already struggling with multiple barriers to receiving help to expend effort and energy which they may not be able to muster. Thus, to solve homelessness is to go to where those who require solutions are found. Once again, this is not unlike the Gospel and the grace of God. Which Christians are to be spreading. Within Nye's discussion, trauma, drug use, and the many issues facing those who are unhoused must contend with. Nye shines a fresh light upon the realities of these issues, and provides grace filled approaches which shift the ways in which they are typically dealt with. In other words, he uses a thoroughly Wesleyan approach to life and the struggles we may face in life.
This book has challenged and excited me as it is a fresh look at a problem which is always with us, but can be solved. As we enter what may be another period of economic instability, Nye's work will be key to the Church finding ways to embrace the truth of Matthew 25. I echo Nye's prayer at the conclusion of this excellent book, "that grace can lead us all home."
I was sent an advanced reader copy of Grace Can Lead Us Home, but no one has reviewed or given input into this review. I have pre-ordered the book and look forward to the official street copy hitting my Kindle.
To preorder the book, go to Kevin's site and choose your preferred retailer. http://kevinmnye.com/grace-can-lead-us-home-book/