"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings." Philippians 3:10 (ASV)

If we follow Jesus, we will experience pain. It comes with the territory. We might face hardship because of our Christian commitment, or we may have challenges just from living in a fallen world. Either way, Christians follow in the footsteps of our suffering Savior and participate in his suffering.

But that's not the whole story. Missionary Paul Borthwick and pastor Dave Ripper show how transformation through our personal pain enables us to minister faithfully to a hurting world. They candidly share about their own struggles and how they have seen God's kingdom advance through hardship and suffering. Though we naturally avoid suffering, Christians throughout church history have become powerful witnesses to Christ as a result of their brokenness.

Life is painful, but pain need not have dominion over us. Instead, it can propel us in missional solidarity with our suffering world. Come find comfort and renewed purpose in the fellowship of the suffering.

"If you are like me, you tend to gloss over your suffering, thinking it unspiritual to dwell on it. The pain is like a friend whose visit you really do not want. Paul and Dave teach us the importance of sitting with this unwelcome friend, learning from him, and, in the end, being transformed. When we do, we find we have been with the Suffering Servant whose friendship graces us in the pain, bringing us what we did not expect: peace and joy. And we find ourselves strangely warmed in the company of the saints of every age."

Scott Arbeiter, president, World Relief

"Awesome book—so absolutely needed! The Fellowship of the Suffering explores the ‘why’ behind our suffering while presenting practical, genuine steps for converting our pain into promise. We recommend this book to anyone brave enough to consider how suffering forges uncommon faith and authentic love in a world desperate for both."

Stephan Bauman, former president and CEO of World Relief, author of Seeking Refuge and Break Open the Sky, and Belinda Bauman, founder of One Million Thumbprints, author of Brave Soul: Lessons in Love, Risk, and the Power of Empathy

"There is a deep richness that comes to people who have faced suffering biblically. A key to this richness is a joy and a contentment that tough experiences cannot take away. But many Christians do not look at suffering in this way. This book helps us to develop a theology that works in giving us the courage to look positively at suffering after experiencing the painful emotions that inevitably come with it. It does not give glib answers but faces squarely with the pain that suffering brings. This is indeed ‘theology that works.’ It is biblically profound, practically alive, easy for lay persons to understand, and motivational for mission and ministry. It will help nurture the kind or authentic and vibrant Christianity that we so badly need today."

Ajith Fernando, teaching director of Youth for Christ Sri Lanka, author of The Call to Joy and Pain

"I’ve lost my husband to Alzheimer’s and survived two bouts with cancer, so I read anything about suffering cautiously. The Fellowship of the Suffering has touched my heart and encouraged my spirit. While we all acknowledge the reality of suffering, we struggle to discover the why. Paul Borthwick and Dave Ripper, experienced sufferers, do not offer trite answers or slick formulas, but rather guide us to and through the how of the dark and disappointing days. There is great comfort from fellowship with others who are also walking through a season of suffering, deep wisdom in the words from those who really understand, and rich hope in the journey to the One who has suffered and invites us to join him on the mourning bench. This is a book that will not sit on my bookshelf but will be taken down again and again so I can draw from its refreshing and honest insight."

Cynthia Fantasia, former pastor of women’s ministries at Grace Chapel, Lexington, MA

“Paul has jokingly said that this book will obviously not be a bestseller like one on health and wealth might be, but I think he’s completely wrong. Suffering and brokenness are the common experiences to which all who live in this world can relate. As the authors share their stories, you will be drawn into their pain and find yourself saying, ‘someone does understand.’ The book contains wonderful gems such as, ‘to choose faithfulness in the face of suffering is a process.’ There are no simple answers or platitudes, but instead genuine, realistic thoughts that will help you find your way through the pain."

Jane Overstreet, President and CEO, Development Associates International

"When I first broke my neck and landed in a wheelchair, I thought the Lord was being grossly unfair. I wondered, isn’t God being too heavy-handed? Is this kind of suffering ‘normal’ in the normal Christian life? Those were honest questions, and I wasn’t about to settle for anything less than honest answers. However, over the years the answers I found most satisfying and fulfilling weren’t quite what I expected—but they more than sufficed! It’s why I recommend this book. Paul Borthwick and Dave Ripper write not only from decades of hard study, but from the heartache of personal experience—thus their words carry weight. If you are looking for the right perspective when things go wrong—very wrong—then The Fellowship of the Suffering is a must-read. And you don’t have to break your neck to grasp its wisdom."

Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni and Friends International Disability Center

"The Fellowship of the Suffering is not only biblically relevant and historically redemptive, but it's personally restorative, most notably when everything above, beneath, around, or within us seems to be falling apart. We don't realize how much we believe it to be true until we need it the most. With refreshing transparency and spiritual vitality, Paul and Dave invite us to consider our broken lives in the context of the gospel of grace, where the deepest fellowship sets us free to receive and release all of our pain now and ultimately for God's glory."

Stephen A. Macchia, founder and president of Leadership Transformations, author of Broken and Whole
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CONTENTS

Preface

Part 1: Welcome to the Fellowship
1. Suffering Comes with the Territory
2. The Worst Suffering: Paul’s Story
3. Learning to Trust Anyway: Dave and Erin’s Story

Part 2: Fellowship with Christ
4. The Sun Comes from the Dark: Prayer Through Suffering
5. Becoming the Kind of People the World Needs: Transformation Through Suffering
6. Not What I Expected: Joy Through Suffering

Part 3: Fellowship with Others
7. It’s Our Family: Solidarity Through Suffering
8. Pain as Common Ground: Neighboring Through Suffering

Part 4: Fellowship with the World
9. The Seed Must Die to Multiply: Mission Through Suffering
10. Are You Really Passionate? Calling Through Suffering

Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Recommended Reading
Notes

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Paul Borthwick (DMin, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior consultant for Development Associates International and teaches global Christianity at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. Through his speaking, writing and resource ministry, Borthwick works to mobilize others to participate in world missions.

Borthwick is an active speaker and teacher, having taught courses at Gordon College, Africa International University (Nairobi), Alliance Theological Seminary (Manila) and Lanka Bible College (Sri Lanka), plus a guest faculty position at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Previously he served for more than twenty years on the staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts, first as youth pastor and then as minister of missions.

Borthwick is the author of Western Christians in Global Missions, How to Be a World-Class Christian, Six Dangerous Questions to Transform Your View of the World, A Mind for Missions, and Great Commission, Great Compassion. He and his wife, Christie, have been married since 1979 and they live in Lexington, Massachusetts, when not traveling internationally.

Dave Ripper (MDiv, Denver Seminary) is Lexington campus pastor and young adult ministries pastor at Grace Chapel, a multisite church with campuses throughout Eastern Massachusetts. In addition to his role at Grace, Dave also serves as the chaplain for the Boston Bruins, and as a regional leader in the Made to Flourish pastors' network. He and his wife, Erin, and their family, make their home in Greater Boston.

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