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Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Sharing Christ With the Dying" (Melody Rossi)

TITLE: Sharing Christ With the Dying: Bringing Hope to Those Near the End of Life
AUTHOR: Melody Rossi
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2014, (192 pages).

Sometimes it is called, "Deathbed evangelism." Some use the "Four Spiritual Laws" or other evangelistic tracts to do some last minute sharing before their unbelieving loved ones die. It may sound a little late, but for such people, it is a case of better late than never. Other times, it is a final message of hope to bring some comfort for the living and peace for the dying. For both the living and the dying, the message of hope is an essential sending off gift of love. This book is not about any kind of evangelism that is imposing or disrespectful. In fact, it is about sharing the gospel of hope as one approaches the end of life. It is a gospel that is shrouded in compassion and love. It is about "walking" together with the dying. Originally published under the title, "May I Walk You Home," this new title is a little awkward as I shall explain later. The book tackles questions like:

  • How do we minister to the dying?
  • What can we do with their physical and spiritual needs?
  • What if we are the only one around the dying at any one time?
  • How much preparation time is needed to speak with the dying?
  • What does it take to serve wholeheartedly?

This book is designed to help such readers.

There are many stories of how hope during life is shared with people approaching death. Like Marge succumbing to illness and eventually death, but not before being ministered with love from loved ones, including the author. In communicating hope, one learns that medical issues, legal matters, and other strained relationships will be secondary. Spiritual matters become more and more primary. Rossi gives some practical tools too. In sharing with the dying, we need a provide a "road map" that does not throw the dying all over the place. We need to make the situation less traumatic but focusing on few things, but to do so consistently. Simply put, there is an afterlife. There is God. There is the chance to be at peace with God. Walking with the dying also requires us to be equipped appropriately. The Word of God, the presence of love, and the prompt service are golden resources for comfort. Serve them as if one is serving like Christ. Other important tips in the book includes how to go about doing up a personal will, advanced medical directives, power of attourney for matters of the estate, DNR orders, and even who and where to ask for help. Form personal support teams even as we support the dying. For help is just a loving phone call away. There is also the spiritual warfare domain that cannot be underestimated. Here, Rossi leads us through the promises of Scripture, in particular the Armour of God as in Ephesians 6.

So What?

Maybe you know someone who is terminally ill; suffering from advanced stage of cancer; battling the last moments between life and death. Maybe, you are involved in some kind of hospice ministry or ministering to an aged who is dying. While many of us accept that death is a part of life and is guaranteed to come, we may not know what to do, who to go to, and what to say to the dying. Enters this book. We learn what it means to have a spiritual GPS that is far more superior to the earthly navigation devices. We learn to anticipate sudden emergencies by getting prepared for the end days. We become more aware of many ministries that we hardly hear about. We grow in appreciation for the many unsung heroes in the ministry to the needy and the dying. We see the medical staff, ministry workers, and various help agencies with a deeper level of gratitude and understanding. '

This book may seem an easy read, but trust me, it is a tough emotional journey especially for those who happen to be re-enacting the whole scene with the dying all over again. That is why I think the former title of walking with the dying is more descriptive of the book. For most people do not die instantly. Like people who age, they waste away. For the dying, the uncertainty of time is something very difficult to take. This book offers us a window of hope to know what to do when we are grasping for ideas in a dimly lit room. I appreciate the level of detail with regards to the many things that matter to the dying. Even though logistical details seem mundane, they are very necessary. For the least that the helper can do for the dying is to assure them that we care, and we care through fulfilling what they would normally care about.

My main peeve with this book is the title. For it communicates a form of evangelistic program that needs to be done before the dying reaches their end of life. That is only a small part of what the book is about. In fact, the book is a lot more about walking and caring for the dying.  Overall, this book is a fresh breeze to encourage the weary, to give guidance to the helpless, and above all, to be a powerful avenue of being Christlike to the dying. Fact is, we are all dying, and the book may very well be something that would minister to us personally, even as we seek to help others warmly.

Take my advice. Do not wait until you encounter the dying to start reading this book. Pick one up now and be prepared for you never know when you would ever need it. It is filled with wisdom and practical stuff to help us through this event that will come one day. We just don't know when.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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