cover image The Heart Reader

The Heart Reader

Terri Blackstock, Anonymous. Thomas Nelson Publishers, $9.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-8499-1651-9

This anonymous novella attempts to teach a lesson about evangelism by telling the story of Sam, a middle-aged advertising executive who is also a Milquetoast Christian. One night, the Holy Spirit gives Sam the ability to hear the inmost thoughts of all around him, a power that makes him aware of how desperately they all need Jesus. With a little help from his pastor, Sam starts using his gift to begin evangelistic conversations with strangers. When he hears a man wishing that ""someone bigger was in control,"" Sam introduces himself and tells the stranger ""who [is] really in control."" Though we see Sam rebuffed once, the author concocts a fantasy in which not only Sam, but also his family and friends, win souls by the dozens, simply by having short conversations with people about the idea that Jesus can meet their needs. More miraculously, all these new converts show up at Sam's church ready to grow as Christians and to ""bear fruit"" by going on soul-winning expeditions themselves. At one point, one of Sam's Promise Keepers ""accountability partners"" objects to Sam's evangelism spree by asking, ""Don't you think you're selling them an easy-believism? A repeat-after-me kind of faith?"" While Sam assures his friend that he is not, the novella itself offers no such assurances. It is rather a treacly fairy tale that ignores the complexity of suffering, genuine conversion and, perhaps most disappointingly, good storytelling. (June)