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.
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.
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.