Since encountering and embracing the Charismatic side of the Church at university, I’ve often kept an eye out for books about it. For books that seek to explain to friends in and outside the Church just what on earth we think we are doing in and outside the Church. One of the ministries that has tried to do this over many years, and is continuing to grow in influence and effect, is ‘Healing on the Streets’. Birthed out of the Causeway Coast Vineyard Church in Northern Island, and ostensibly founded by Mark Marx, this is an approach to evangelism that combines Gospel proclamation with Kingdom demonstration, inviting people to be prayed for.
This book, ‘Stepping into the Impossible’, is the story of Healing on the Streets (henceforth ‘HOTS’). And this is my review of it.
First off, this book is incredibly easy to read and very hard to put down. I read it in one sitting – which is rare for me at the moment – and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is an encouraging book as much as an inspiring book. Of course, for some people, reading this book will inspire them to grab some chairs and run out onto the the streets to pray for people. I’m not those people. This book was encouraging because of Mark’s humility and honesty, coupled with beautiful stories of God moving in different places for different people in a host of different and difficult circumstances.
Having said the above, it is worth noting that this is isn’t the theological book I would necessarily have hoped it to be – though I might still give it to sceptical friends to start a conversation. This is very much a book focused on the story of Mark Marx, the story of HOTS, and how those little stories interact with the bigger story of what God is doing in the world.
This is a delightfully unfinished book. Not in the sense that pages are missing – but that it is shot through with infectious hope and the faith of the author for more. There is a real honesty throughout – wrestling with kingdom tensions like being healed or not, having faith or not – that makes me want to get a beer with Mark (After being on the streets, I expect, the man being contagious in his enthusiasm!) and then see what God will do with this ministry next. This book is one that is well aware of pitfalls but is grounded in the Gospel and the conviction that God will do what God will do.
Simon Ponsonby is an author and theologian I deeply respect, and I think his endorsement on the back of the book is a great encouragement:
“I can think of few Christians in this generation who have done more to equip the saints than Mark Marx. Stepping into the Impossible shows what one man can achieve for the King and his Kingdom when filled with the Holy Spirit and taking God at his Word“
If you are sceptical about HOTS, you should read this book. It may not totally convince you, but it should demonstrate to you the kingdom-heart and Gospel-focus of the work. If you are thinking about starting HOTS, this book will likely inspire you! If you are someone who loves to be encouraged by God’s work in and through his servants, like me when I read it one summers evening recently, then this is a fascinating, encouraging and contagiously beautiful book.