Finding God in unexpected places

by Philip Yancey

Paper Book, 1995



Call number



London : Hodder & Stoughton, 2002, c1995.


The traces of God can be found in the most unexpected places--an Atlanta slum, a pod of whales off the coast of Alaska, the prisons of Peru and Chile, the plays of Shakespeare, a health club in Chicago--yet many Christians have not only missed seeing God, they've overlooked opportunities to make him visible to those most in need of hope. In this enlightening book author Philip Yancey serves as an insightful tour guide for those willing to look beyond the obvious, pointing out glimpses of the eternal where few might think to look. Whether finding God among the newspaper headlines, within the church, or on the job, Yancey delves deeply into the commonplace and surfaces with rich spiritual insight. Finding God in Unexpected Places takes readers from Ground Zero to the Horn of Africa, and each stop along the way reveals footprints of God, touches of his truth and grace that prompt readers to search deeper within their own lives for glimpses of transcendence.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jd234512
Another person is very right in saying that this book is rather scattered. This is not to say that it is not worth reading, but more that in can be hard to follow and in some cases frusrating because he does not seem to delve too much into any one idea. This is a shame, because that is when Yancey is at his best. He has an incredible outlook and I am thankful for his writings. This is still worth reading, but possibly not one you need to rush and read.… (more)
LibraryThing member debs4jc
Yancey pieces together several reflections on "finding God in unexpected places"--whether that be in prisons, the former athiestic Soviet Union, or in his own work. Yancey's observations are right on, as always, and his honesty about his doubts and disillusionments with the Church are refreshing. The book isn't the most tied together, the essays are only loosely tied together and the ending is somewhat abrubt. But the overall message and thought provoking reflections along the way is is worthy of any Christian's time.… (more)
LibraryThing member mrkurtz
Philip Yancey is the editor-at-large of “Christianity Today” magazine. He has written over a dozen books on the tenets of the Christian religion and he writes in a clear concise manner that moves both the mature Christian and the novice reader looking for God. We can expect to find God where there is a garden of Eden or a Shangri-La or an utopia. Yancey gives examples of finding God in unexpected places. A true God will show himself in the bowels of a prison in Peru where the inmates are glad to receive any words of God from outside the prison walls. The growth of the Christian faith in China after Tiananmen Square has amazed the world. The reader who has doubts about the convictions of Christians facing overwhelming evil can receive plenty of comfort and assurance that God can be found by the person willing to look. Yancey reinforces his examples with words from the giants of the Christian religion. He quotes Augustine and C.S. Lewis. He references the gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in telling the parables of Jesus Christ.
Visiting Russia with a group of pastors and theologians of America in 1991, he tells of meeting with high ranking Russian officials who received them with warm receptions. He tells the story of Boris, a common man, who lived in Moldavia. Boris has preached to his community the words of Jesus Christ. For this he was sent to a labor camp. In the labor camp Boris started giving sermons to the prisoners early in the morning before the guards came and put them to work. After spending 10 years in the labor camp, Basil was released. Back in his small community he started preaching again and starting building a church. He was harassed by the local government who also looked the other way when pilfering and vandalism occurred. It took 19 years to finish the church building. Basil heard of this group of ministers and pastors visiting from the United States and he traveled to see them and ask if one of them would attend the dedication of his church. Because of Boris’s story of dedication to God, one of the ministers did attend the dedication and stayed a year in the village helping Boris give the words of God and Jesus Christ to the people.
Many Christians in the United States hide behind the church where they do not face a polarized society that allows less room for the believers. Yancey says that he has had to look beyond the church walls to find God and the people who are witnessing for Jesus Christ. Philip Yancey believes he can find God in many unexpected places.
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LibraryThing member wolffamily
Some parts of book were compelling but some boring. I like Yancey and his approach to God
LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
Much of this book consists of anecdotes written during Yancey's travels around the world as a journalist. He visits high-security prisons, some of them with appalling conditions: yet there he finds criminals converted to Christianity, who have the most incredible serene faith. He speaks to leaders in ex-communist countries and finds them hungering for spiritual teaching, for news of the church in the West, and for God.

All this is contrasted with the sad condition of much of the church in Europe and the USA, where our lifestyle is so comfortable - and often separated from the rest of the world - that we can barely understand why the poor and the broken-hearted are blessed. Because it's amongst the most unlikely places that Philip Yancey discovers evidences of God - where culture and conditions are such that there is no logical or rational explanation for the peace and love which people find.

He asks thought-provoking questions, and ponders them in the book. How can we appreciate the finer things in life without becoming snobbish? Does religious commitment damage psychological health? Knowing that God can forgive anything ('grace') can we sometimes be justified doing something we know to be wrong, in the confident assurance of future forgiveness?

I don't suppose this would be of much interest to anyone other than Christians, but I recommend it anyway. I'll be re-reading this frequently.

Note after re-reading again in 2012 - didn't enjoy it quite so much as the other times, though still certainly worth reading.
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LibraryThing member revslick
Yancey introduces several beautiful and poetic stories allowing us to see God's presence has always been with us. While there really is no bad Yancey book this is not one of his better books. He basically reworks many of his articles from Christianity Today, which is still great stuff but doesn't have his usual flow.


Physical description

xiv, 240 p.; 20 inches


0340786043 / 9780340786048
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