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Saturday, February 20, 2016

"Midnight Jesus" (Jamie Blaine)

TITLE: Midnight Jesus: Where Struggle, Faith, and Grace Collide . . .
AUTHOR: Jamie Blaine
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2015, (298 pages).

What do you get when you put a licensed psychotherapist, a crisis interventionist, and a creative believer together? The long answer is lots of stories. The short answer is this book: "Midnight Jesus." With wit and humor, boldness and honesty, author Jamie Blaine tells it as it is, that we live in a broken world. The trouble is, the establishment have largely failed to recognize how broken it is. We are too comfortable with clean-cut faith or comfortably-dressed Christianity. Many prefer to do evangelism on their own terms rather than going to the rough places where people dwell in. Defying convention, Blaine tells of his personal encounters with people of all kinds in mental hospitals, megachurches, miscellaneous joints, and messy situations in which grace is allowed to fill the broken hearts. Even when he feels inadequate or unprepared for what is to come, his desire to want to listen to people keeps his adrenaline pumping. His honest curiosity helps people to lower their guard. Sometimes, he encounters cynics and disgruntled people but he keeps at it in good faith, not because of who he is but because of the grace of God.

He learn about dealing with alcoholics where the common wisdom is to include buying them some alcohol when they have withdrawal symptoms. He meets lots of people who are bipolar, schizophrenic, manic-depressive, sexually and drug addicted, and so on, even trying to bring some of them to church. He tells several stories of his time with the megachurches, and his meetings with various preachers. One such meeting was a preacher who showed up at the psych ward, drunk and desperate. It made him ponder about the kinds of people God sent Jesus to die for. He reflects on how Jesus' first disciples are not exactly the cream of the crop. He got hired by a megachurch to work in the crisis counseling department where his main task was to listen and not judge. There was even a time where he was jailed for creating a ruckus to blow off steam and stress.

The author is multi-talented and has worked in different environments that few people dared to venture into. Not only is he a licensed psychotherapist, he is also an avid skater and creative writer, having contributed articles for Salon, OnFaith, and so on. He is also a music enthusiast, writing for publications like Bass Guitar, Drummer UK, and Ultimate Classic Rock.

This is a unique book of stories from unique places. The situations described range from bizarre meetings to hilarious moments. The common theme is a listener who is interested to let people be who they are without the need for pretense. I read this book wrapped with marvel and curiosity because Blaine is doing something that very few Christians dared to even think about doing. Far too often, I've heard Christians talk about helping the poor, the marginalized, the down, and the almost out. In this book, I see it all put into action. In fact, the stories are already testimonies of how Blaine shines for Jesus as a listening ear rather than a judgmental finger. This is something Christians need to do more and more. Perhaps, the one best thing we can learn from the experiences of Blaine is this: Be a better and more honest listener.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Thomas-Nelson in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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