What if empathy could save us?
Belinda Bauman was living a comfortable life as a wife, mother, and nonprofit leader—but her soul was checked out. Then she met Esperance. An assault survivor living in one of the poorest, most dangerous countries in the world, Esperance and other Congolese women shared their harrowing stories with Belinda. Their vulnerability set Belinda on a path of embracing empathy. If Esperance could love in the face of so much pain, maybe there is hope for the world too.
From the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to the borders of war-torn Syria, Belinda takes readers along her journey to empathy. With cutting-edge neuroscience, biblical parables, and stories of brave women from across the globe, she offers readers direction for seeing others' perspectives, listening well, and redeeming conflict. She casts a vision for lives and communities transformed by everyday Christians practicing empathy as a spiritual discipline.
Join Belinda on a journey to be brave—and see your world changed.
"The beauty and power of Christ-like, Spirit-empowered empathy in a world of apathy and antipathy is the missing ingredient in our homes, schools, churches, communities, cities, and the world. This book is a valuable tapestry of the sad—but true—stories of women and their experiences of violence and injustice interwoven with the joyful and hopeful outcome of authentic Christian love and empathy. You will be inspired, encouraged, and equipped in Brave Souls!"
"This book pulls you in and doesn't let you go until the end. Given the tone of today's public discourse, what does it mean to have disruptive empathy or high functioning apathy? Bauman's authenticity, wild stories, and gift with words pull you into the inner world of a woman being asked by God to listen—really listen—to the people around her, specifically to the stories of women who have survived the violence of war. She reminds us—challenges us—that empathy is not reserved for a few select saints. It is gritty, personal, concrete, and practical, and available to all brave souls thirsty enough to pursue real love."
"This is a time for followers of Jesus to 'take heart' in the face of profound challenges, and my friend Belinda has written a book that will help us do just that. Belinda's commitment to justice is grounded in her love of God and her love for people, and her love is one that will inspire anyone who reads Brave Souls to follow Jesus with courage."
"Belinda does a masterful job of integrating research, experience, and story to help illustrate the transforming power of empathy. This is a book that searches your soul and prepares you to practice the spiritual discipline of empathy. As a pastor, leader, mother, and neighbor it has invited me to new spaces of bravery."
"The power of empathy is the power for God to transform our understanding of how he is working in the world. This book is a reminder that there is indeed a commonality formed and a shared human experience created in hearing, listening, and being shaped by others' stories and experiences. Belinda has a rich history of being shaken and broken before the Lord and using herself as an empty vessel to carry the stories of the women she meets to the places that need to hear their stories. Throughout this book, she reminds us that our own strength and bravery don't have to come from ourselves but from others we meet along the way. She helps us find a way forward to not forget those who are easily forgotten. Belinda weaves the stories of so many brave and fearless women, who are our teachers and leaders, into a rich tapestry where God's grace and power is the redemptive thread. She ultimately points us to the power of building relationships with those who are on the margins of society, where we so often see God redeeming and restoring his beloveds. I'm so grateful for this book and Belinda's ongoing work of education and advocacy. I believe you'll find, as I did, that this book will inform and inspire you to action!"
"In an age where it is easy to think of ourselves as socially aware and compassionate, but where studies show we are swiftly losing our empathy and growing ever-more distant from one another, this book is a beautiful and passionate call back to becoming fully human, learning to listen to one another's stories, and being willing to risk the loss of comfort to live in solidarity with others. In Brave Souls, a book born from her life story, Belinda Bauman takes direct aim at what it means for us to truly love—having a form of holy empathy—and be deeply engaged in the world around us. Not everyone has a mentor to sit down with for coffee; for those who don't, you will be delighted to find Belinda a wise, experienced, and gentle guide leading you into the high places of true Christian spirituality. I can't recommend it highly enough."
"Belinda Bauman gives us a gift—inviting us away from merely hearing someone to embracing empathy and allowing another person's story to move us into action. The journey isn't pretty or easy, but Bauman's belief in change left me more hopeful than I've been in a long time."
"When Belinda Bauman's heart awoke to the suffering of others, she came alive in a way she'd not lived before. On this unlikely journey she discovered that learning and practicing empathy changes the world and changes the one willing to embrace it. In these pages Belinda is inviting you and me not just to feel empathy but to embody it. Brave Souls is challenging me to take big risks to love more, and I believe it will do the same for you. Say yes. You won't regret it."
"Brave Souls is a mountain we all need to climb, with lessons on listening and conversations on privilege and responsibility to be savored along the way. While Belinda seamlessly blends personal experience and expert voices, her education credentials shine as she creates a curriculum for empathy, providing a road map from what often prohibits empathy to how and why empathy is the essential destination for each for us. Brave Souls is winsome in its storytelling and impactful in its truth. In 2016, I spent almost a week traipsing behind Belinda as we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and following her lead again through Brave Souls only cements my view of her as a visionary and a compassionate leader whose goal is to change the world. With this book, she just might."
"This book is the beat of my heart. Belinda Bauman has given us a road map to conquer the biggest mountain in our world at the moment—the distance between us and our 'other.' How do we see the humanity in each other? How do we remember that we belong to each other? How can we stand against injustice or at least help relieve some of the suffering in our world? Drawing from her own story and the stories of many brave souls in our world, Belinda reminds us that empathy is the kind of love we need now. In fact, empathy has the potential to revolutionize love. I read this book with tears literally streaming down my face several times. It gave me hope that we can conquer the mountains of apathy and become the people God has created us to be. Oh, how I want to be this kind of brave soul."
"In Brave Souls, Bauman makes a compelling case to shake apathy and open our hearts. With a gracious touch that doesn't hold back from the truth, Bauman challenges us to awaken to the realities of violence in the world. With so much disturbing news, it is tempting to create a cocoon of comfort. But Bauman provides hope, encouragement, and helpful tools so that we can awaken empathy and in doing so perhaps find love. A beautifully crafted book that will feed your heart, mind, and soul!"
"Brave Souls is written for this time in history. Belinda's call to empathy, woven with the souls of suffering women as well as research from the finest of universities, disrupts our pious Christian language and smugness and transforms us to living and understanding like Jesus. The writing and stories from the heart and experiences of Belinda are compelling and convicting. The reader is given practical application and guidance in understanding and developing empathy. Brave Souls can change hearts and history. This is a groundbreaking and prophetic book."
"Belinda Bauman tucks 'brave' into the creases of her real life. From climbing actual mountains to diving into the depths of others' stories with care and humility, she has much to teach us about carrying empathy with us, calling it out into the world with our own inner courage. As a leader, mother, and wife, she's inspired me to be more brave in my own life and ministry—and I cannot wait for readers of Brave Souls to discover both the risk and the beauty of what it means to live out the fullness of 'brave'! With Belinda as our guide, the journey is worth it."
"Belinda Bauman is a brave soul and her call to live an empathetic life is not just one she writes about but one she's living. This collection of stories, practices, and spiritual truths are words we need to hear, but even more they offer a way of living we need to embrace."
"In Brave Souls, Belinda Bauman makes a vitally important and rarely explored connection between bravery and empathy. She leads us from conflict zones in the Congo to her own spiritual struggle regarding the universal Christian act of worship and uncovers the stunning truth: only those courageous enough to dive into the depths of empathy will be able to change this hurting world. A masterful storyteller and experienced spiritual guide, Bauman introduces us to some of the most inspiring people we'll ever meet and then invites us—like them and like her—to be brave."
Foreword by Christine Caine
Prelude: Mother's Day Epiphany
Introduction: If I Could Be Brave
Part I: Why Empathy Can Save Us
1. Beautiful Collision
2. The Power of Empathy
3. Make Your Mark
Part II: Learning to Love
5. Empathetic Listening
Part III: Now, Take Your Risk
7. Obstacle Illusions
8. Empathy as a Spiritual Discipline
9. The Thumbprint of God
Appendix A: Reflecting on Your Empathetic Listening Skills
Appendix B: Empathy Mapping: Putting It all Together
Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion