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Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously
IVP Books, 2009
208 pp., $16.00
Amy Julia Becker
Kent Annan's Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously, recently published by InterVarsity Press, is a memoir of Annan's first year (2003) living in Haiti with his new wife, Shelly. Going behind the scenes of devastation and the often faltering attempts at rebuilding, the recurring episodes of political unrest and repression, it is a story of sin—personal and structural. It's a testimony to God's goodness at work among ordinary people. And it's an exhortation to take Jesus seriously. Annan calls us beyond human sin and its consequences to consider the possibility that God is God, that change is possible, that hope is worthwhile, and that individual and corporate action can make a difference.
Toward the end of his narrative, Annan is sitting on a bus jammed with passengers. Everyone is talking about a nearby city submerged in water after a hurricane. Annan sums it up: "ecological devastation, poverty, lack of competent governing, lack of a hurricane control center—ad nauseum—create conditions for mass tragedy." But as the bus bumps along, a man tells his fellow passengers that he has just escaped from the wreckage of this city. And the people on the bus begin to respond: "A pair of green shorts appeared for him. A comb. Someone else gave a bar of soap." At the end of the journey, Annan reflects, "From a distance via the news, you wonder how anybody makes it. Up close you wonder too, but less so because you see the little things."
We know from the back cover that Kent and Shelly didn't live among the Haitian people for very long, although their commitment to Haiti continues. Their lives remain a witness to the reality of following Jesus through the eye of the needle, from individualism to community, from self to other, from instant gratification to patient endurance.