Embrace: God's Radical Shalom for a Divided World, By Leroy Barber alt


God's Radical Shalom for a Divided World

by Leroy Barber

  • Length: 144 pages
  • Published: August 09, 2016
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 7318
  • ISBN: 9780830873180

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The walls between us seem impenetrable.

We live in an age of strife and division. Factors such as race, class, values and lifestyles keep us from connecting with others in meaningful ways. It's easy to avoid or ignore those who make us uncomfortable and those we simply do not like, but God's call to the church is to do just the opposite.

Leroy Barber has spent decades pursuing reconciliation and justice amongst groups of vastly diverse people. He knows the challenge of embracing those who are difficult to embrace, yet he advocates that the way to radical shalom on earth is through pursuing these relationships.

We have the opportunity as the people of God to bring true peace and unity to a world that desperately needs it. Embrace the challenge to show a divided world the bridge-building power of God's love.

"Leroy Barber has been on the frontlines of the struggle for racial justice for many years now. In his new book Embrace, he makes the case for why deeper and more loving relationships, especially with people who are unlike us, hold the key to creating God's kingdom here on earth and repairing the breaches in our lives and societies. Leroy's book employs powerful personal examples, accessible prose, insightful social analysis, and a mastery of Scripture that together make this a must-read for anyone who is concerned with our future together as a human family in a broken world so loved by God. He shows that talk isn't enough—that we need to repair the breaches we have caused and allowed in both our relationships and our systems. Leroy Barber is making a powerful case today for why leaders of color need our strongest affirmation and support, especially in faith-based and other critical nonprofit organizations, if we are to move forward."

Jim Wallis, president, Sojourners, editor in chief, Sojourners, New York Times bestselling author of America's Original Sin

"A powerful book for these times. The weave of the biblical story, current times, and the personal journey of Leroy Barber bring the reader to more fully understand, embrace, and find the courage to live out radical shalom. I believe this book should be read by every person who is a Christ follower. Could it be the groundbreaker for the racial healing that is so desperately needed and that our Lord desires to accomplish? An unequivocal yes!"

Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent, The Wesleyan Church

"Troubled times require God's people to rise up and embody God's shalom. Leroy Barber fully understands the world we live in. His life and ministry reveal a deep concern for our divided and broken world. He not only writes about shalom relationships but also demonstrates them in his own life and ministry. This book will lead you through important but sometimes difficult concepts and issues that can strengthen the church and direct you toward an embodied life of godly relationships that we will do well to emulate."

Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary, author of Prophetic Lament

"With powerful stories and fresh insight, Leroy challenges us to fall in love with hard places and see the image of God in hard people. We are reminded that the hard places are exactly where we need to be. Embrace illustrates the many ways God uses difficult situations in life to help us love more deeply and bring us closer to one another and God."

Shawn Casselberry, executive director, Mission Year

"Leroy Barber offers a simple yet deeply profound invitation to return to a foundation of relationship. Embrace is very timely with helpful insights for today's increasingly divided world. Barber challenges us to look and find the unexamined prejudices that lead us to further alienation from those God brings into our lives. A great book for those longing for depth and true transformation in their relationships."

Nikki Toyama-Szeto, director, IJM Institute for Biblical Justice and author of God of Justice

"Embrace is an important book for this kairos moment in history. Many of us in the church long for true racial reconciliation. We want to be peacemakers in this broken and angry world. However, we often lack concrete, down-to-earth, timely, and biblically based tools for building real relationships across the lines. Rev. Barber has given us a wealth of wisdom for how to make these dreams real. He helps us understand and, yes, embrace one another."

Alexia Salvatierra, pastor, founder, The Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNetwork, coauthor of Faith-Rooted Organizing

"In Embrace Leroy Barber shows us that loving our neighbor includes knowing and relating to one another. With years of wisdom and experience, Leroy beautifully and patiently shows us how we can become the beloved community we were created to be. If you're looking for a practical and hopeful book to help you navigate some of the deep divides that plague our culture, look no further. This book is insightful, encouraging, and a delight to read!"

Ken Wytsma, president, Kilns College, author of Pursuing Justice and Create vs. Copy

"Through Embrace, Leroy gives us a lens through which to view both the challenges and opportunities for people of faith building community through nurturing relationships. His storytelling approach shows us the importance of empathy, compassion, and having a desire to learn by listening to the journeys of those who are not like us. Embrace is a practical road map for radically living into God's shalom in a divided world. With over thirty years of experience in building community both domestically and internationally, there is no better person than Leroy Barber to show us the power of living into God's embrace of diversity."

Romal Tune, senior advisor to the president, The Mission Society for Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, CEO, Clerestory: Ministry and Leadership in a New Light

"In the Bible, righteousness is all about relationships. To be righteous means to be rightly related with all those elements that make up human life. And God knows we can all do with some help in this regard. My dear friend Leroy is a man who knows how to enhance his world through loving relationships. In this book he helps us be more righteous in very practical, joy-filled, and life-giving ways."

Debra Hirsch, author of Redeeming Sex and Untamed

"We live in an era of polarization, where everyone is encouraged to choose a label, to associate only with others who carry the same label, and to view all others as the enemy. It is to this deeply divided world that Leroy Barber's Embrace speaks. Deftly weaving reflections on Scripture with his long history of crossing racial, ethnic, and economic barriers, Leroy reminds us that Christian tradition calls us to be one family with those we see as radically different from ourselves. He provides concrete strategies for living in community in the midst of division and turmoil. Whether you are crossing boundaries for the first time or a seasoned practitioner of reconciliation, Embrace is a challenge and an inspiration to live into the Christian call to reconciliation."

Chanequa Walker-Barnes, author of Too Heavy a Yoke

"Embrace brings us back to what's most fundamental about our humanity: relationships. With a perfect blend of pastoral compassion and prophetic conviction, Leroy guides us down the often messy path of reconciliation while remaining firmly centered in the heart of Christ and renouncing a posture and politics of fear. Embrace flips the reality of our divided humanity upside down, celebrating the beauty of our differences and reorienting the lens through which we view our neighbors and neighborhoods. Whether deconstructing the processes that turn our preferences into biases through discussions of pumpkin pie or debunking the myths we tell about Black Lives Matter, this book's message is timely and necessary as we lean into the work of racial reconciliation, global justice, and loving our neighbor."

Rachel Goble, president, The SOLD Project

"In Embrace: God's Radical Shalom for a Divided World, Leroy Barber draws from decades of ministry among diverse people to argue for the centrality of relationships across differences to achieving not just reconciliation, but true justice. Encouraging, openhearted words for divisive times."

Sojourners, January 2017

"Barber also provides ways to work toward the goal of action. The steps are small—visiting an African-American museum, or watching a movie with a predominately black cast—but they are also essential. Few white people will (or can) jump fully into new community, and overcome a lifetime of being subtly imbued with racial bias. Through Embrace, Barber gives those brand new to the idea of racial justice the baby steps it might take to get these readers closer to a giant leap."

Jamie Calloway-Hanauer, Sojourners, 10.18.16


1 Embracing the Place
2 The Ones We Avoid
3 God Likes Pumpkin Pie
4 Looking at Change the Right Way
5 Going the Distance
6 Take Me Out to The Ball Game
7 Natural Justice
8 Love Even Our Enemies
9 Yes, Black Lives Matter!


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Leroy Barber

Leroy Barber has dedicated more than twenty-five years to eradicating poverty, restoring local neighborhoods, and healing racism. The author of Embrace, New Neighbor, and Everyday Missions, he is cofounder and director of the Voices Project and college pastor at Kilns College.