Book Review: Possible by Stephan Bauman

I found Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World engaging, descriptive, relevant, and challenging, though I didn’t agree with all the theology presented.

In Possible, Stephan Bauman describes ordinary people that yearn for change and justice in a world filled with suffering and claims that it is possible to change the world.

With extensive first-hand experience working in countries crushed by poverty, Bauman fills the pages of his book with vivid stories that tell the realities, struggles, joys, and beliefs of people suffering all over the world. These stories make Possible interesting, convicting, and creditable.

Throughout the book, Bauman quotes the Bible, theologians, and classical works, providing both credibility and entertainment and continually making it engaging—any book that quotes Tolkien’s Bilbo Baggins has my interest!

Bauman begins his book well by describing the fundamental belief most of us have towards changing the world. He writes:

“When we learn about senseless poverty, brutal racism, mind-boggling violence, or preventable disease, we feel overwhelmed. We pray. Sometimes we give. But we struggle to do more.
Why?
Because we cannot change the world.
Or so we think.”

Throughout the book, he debunks the idea that people cannot bring change or that only “important” and “powerful” people can bring change.

Possible convicted and challenged me by explaining that Christians are called by God to love and care for the poor and any facing injustice. Bauman carefully explains that God uses people as instruments within His divine plan. Though God is sovereign, He often chooses to use every day, ordinary people to accomplish His will.

Bauman also claims that all can bring about change, including the poor and those suffering injustice. He expands on this idea further to show that communities do better when they can became self-sustaining rather than dependent on outside support. I found this especially helpful because it shows that simply throwing money at a problem will not fix it. Bringing real change requires building relationships with people.

Possible is divided into three sections (1: recovering our call, 2: reframing the problem, 3: remaking the world) and includes two appendixes. Appendix A “the beautiful tree” is a practical tool you can use to discover and design change, looking especially at your own beliefs and values and the outward reactions. Appendix B “mapping a better future” provides practical direction to actually implement change.

I did find it disappointing that Appendix B—the practical tool that explained with very practical steps how to actually mobilize, implement, and multiply change—didn’t include any reference to prayer nor the absolute necessity to continually ask God and rely upon Him for guidance, strength, wisdom, and change. Bauman does make it clear earlier that God is necessary to do good, and the whole book is based upon “With God, all things are possible;” however, I found it disappointing that the practical tools weren’t more God-centered.

With all the suffering witnessed in the world, Bauman’s book is a ray of hope, hope in this world, but ultimately hope in the eternal salvation of Jesus Christ.

Want to read more about Possible? Check out the these links:

Note: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

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