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Grace in the real world

Authors show saving and common grace changing lives and the world

Grace in the real world
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Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s grace at work. Faithful Christians pray and keep on praying … straining like Elijah to see that first wisp of cloud. Other times, though, God’s grace breaks in with hurricane force.

For example, take Dr. Patti Giebink, a former abortionist from South Dakota turned pro-life activist and life-saving OB-GYN. In her 2021 autobiography, Unexpected Choice, Dr. Giebink describes how as a medical student she absorbed the view that abortion was needed to save women in crisis. But as Christians prayed for her for many years, Dr. Giebink began to question her pro-abortion beliefs. When Planned Parenthood fired her, she began to attend church and study the Bible, finding new life in Christ.

Giebink highlights important truths in a post-Roe world—the primacy of prayer in the fight against evil and the power of God’s grace to soften even the hardest hearts. She also shows the need for repentance and grace among pro-lifers. Giebink received death threats from activists on both sides of the abortion debate, including the pro-life side. Her best service, though, is twofold. She invites readers to know the God of life, and she equips them to extend His grace to others, especially those considering abortion.

To see another instance of radical grace, try Thomas A. Tarrants’ 2019 book, Consumed by Hate, Redeemed by Love. In this updated version of his 1979 autobiography, Tarrants traces his slide from Barry Goldwater conservative to racial terrorist with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Early chapters show his hatred toward black and Jewish people as he resorts to bomb-making, police shoot-outs, and even a prison breakout. While serving a second stint in prison, though, Tarrants begins to read a Bible, and when he finds faith in Christ, his life changes dramatically. He reaches out to former enemies, repenting and seeking reconciliation.

Tarrants gives readers an inside view into radicalization—how it happens and why, as well as how God can overcome it. He encourages those enticed by tribal thinking to search for ideas outside their comfort zone, to think critically about truth claims, and to make friends who come from different backgrounds.

NBA player Jonathan Isaac saw God’s grace in a very different racial and political context. When an injury sidelined Isaac during his rookie season, he sought the Lord through apologetics resources and his Bible. With a pastor’s help, he became a Christian.

On July 31, 2020, Isaac gained attention for refusing to kneel with his teammates during the national anthem prior to a game. In Why I Stand, Isaac says he shares his teammates’ concern for racial justice, and readers on all sides of the debate will benefit from seeing him wrestle through the issue. Ultimately, Isaac chooses to stand because he believes the gospel can better address America’s racial problems. “If there was anybody who could point their finger at others for their sin, it was Jesus. ... Instead, he showed love to his enemies. … That was the message of love I experienced and wanted to share.”

Finally, for an outpouring of common grace, see Grove City College professor Gary Scott Smith’s Duty and Destiny: The Life and Faith of Winston Churchill. While Churchill doesn’t seem to have embraced saving faith, God used him mightily to preserve life and liberty in Britain during World War II. As Churchill said in 1940, “It felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”

Smith helps readers see the full context of Churchill’s contradictory statements about God and religion. He also compares and contrasts Churchill’s public statements with those of other Christian leaders in Britain, including Margaret Thatcher and William Wilberforce. Despite Churchill’s flaws—for instance, his ego and his racial insensitivity—his perseverance in the face of overwhelming evil remains worth emulating: “Never, never, never give up.”

Emily Whitten

Emily is a book critic and writer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and University of Mississippi graduate, previously worked at Peachtree Publishers, and developed a mother's heart for good stories over a decade of homeschooling. Emily resides with her family in Nashville, Tenn.



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