In celebration of The Irresistible Revolution’s 10th birthday, we recently asked readers and Ordinary Radicals all over the world to submit stories of their revolutions. We were overwhelmed with the response and are happy to feature the below stories. These folks followed Jesus down unexpected paths and found revolution in ordinary and extraordinary ways. We hope you are encouraged and “spurred on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). See more stories here.
I was a young mom and foster parent of the eighties and nineties. I was heavily influenced by Focus on the Family and mixed with my own “junk”‐‐it was all translated to “keep my family safe.” As my kids grew, I knew we were missing something, but I was so unwilling to move out of the safe zone. One of my first online book orders was on Creation Care (again pretty safe). But I notice underneath a section called “Customers who bought this also bought” and there I innocently stumbled upon your book and I have never been the same! I read The Irresistible Revolution and spent the next three months in shock! How had I missed this? Then I spent the next few months trying to find the perfect place to jump in (ya I know, that was dumb). I finally started putting into practice your teachings…Jesus teachings, and everything changed! I’m learning to love all people, I’m learning that fear is so very selfish, I’m learning to see the injustice that I was so blind to. I have new friends who live on the margins and teach me so much! Some days when I’m afraid or tired I wish I could go back to my old way of thinking and living, but then I realize how silly and shallow and self absorbed it all was and I am grateful all over again that your book woke me up! Thank you so very much for living a life that forces us to remain awake!
El Dorado Hills, CA
My wife and I are Type A, organized, worldly, successful people with multiple graduate degrees. So when my wife woke me up one night after reading The Irresistible Revolution saying, “I can live with less, ” I naturally read your book to correct her misunderstanding. No woman says that, so her instability must have been due to a context error in understanding. Shortly after finishing your book, we put our house on the market and sold as much as we could to follow God’s call in war reparations serving in Afghanistan. We had NGO leadership positions promised to us, living arrangements in an Afghan community neighborhood, and daily responsibilities serving the refugees from three decades of war instability. We sold the house and went, but our time was short; a lot like Abraham, we were turned a different direction after raising the knife to our earthly understanding. But we remained changed and convinced that God wanted more for us than the broken American Dream our culture had brainwashed us to embrace. Returning home to full time ministry opportunities, one of which took us to Shane Claiborne’s door in Philadelphia with a half-dozen middle schoolers (he graciously let us use his bathroom), we have been involved in missions and community in more than 60 countries. Recently God has led us to Asheville, North Carolina where we both serve in amazing ministries to the homeless, hopeless, and desperate. The revolution is irresistible because it is Jesus’ calling for our livesnot Shane’s. We will never be the same because God shattered our perception of fiscal responsibility when we understood the concept of using all we have for God’s kingdom.
I read The Irresistible Revolution 10 years ago, during my first year of medical school. It seems like such a grandiose statement to say that it shaped everything about who I am now, as a doctor, a mother, an advocate, a friend, a human. But I remember reading it, flying on an airplane from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada to somewhere else and I distinctly remember feeling overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit. I began reading and traveling and I saw my life taking shape as a human who was falling in love with humans. I became deeply affected by poverty and systemic injustice and the vulnerable and the have‐nots. I continued on the path to becoming a doctor but the specifics changed. I traveled to Africa twice during my training, to spend time with those who are actually doing kingdom work and learn what it truly meant to be rich in spirit. I started training in medical fields that I never imagined myself training in–Addictions Medicine, HIV, Hepatitis, prison medicine. I now practice as a family physician, in that crazily named city (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) where we have some of the highest rates of wealth inequality, racism, HIV infection, addictions, and poverty that all of Canada sees. HIV is spreading in some parts of our province at rates similar to those in sub‐saharan Africa. I wish I had the time amongst diapers and phone calls from the addictions counselors I work with and preparing snacks for my two year old and ordering HIV treatment medications for my patients and eating meals with my friends to go back through The Irresistible Revolution and pick out the many quotes that shaped me, but, alas, I have no time. So I am penning this quick letter as a message of thanksgiving, to God and to Shane and to the Simple Way and to the Red Letter Christians for helping me, nay, forcing me into the light of Christ and enabling me to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with my God.
Dr. Larissa Pawluck
I was a new Christian when I first read The Irresistible Revolution in high school. At that point, I eagerly desired to enlist in the U.S. military so I could fight overseas. I wanted to defend America and glorify God—endeavors I saw as neatly intertwined. My plan was perfect. But Jesus had a better path for me, and Shane’s book was the fork in the road. The Irresistible Revolution really showed me how I was pushing away the thing I wanted most. I longed for community and love; I craved to honor the name of Jesus—I just didn’t know how to live like him. Shane made clear the spiritual dissonance caused by holding both the cross and the flag in my heart, and I had to pick a master. If I wanted to live like Jesus, I had to embrace the upside-down Kingdom of God over the civil religion so ingrained in the American mythos. The choice was easy. The way of Jesus that Shane presented was far more attractive to high school me…dare I say, it was irresistible. After answering Jesus’ call to come and die—instead of go and kill—I set out to learn as much as possible about Jesus’ revolutionary love. I studied Biblical and Religious Studies and English at a small Christian college, mining for truth and love while exercising my prophetic imagination. I also wrote numerous papers on pacifism and America’s religious history to lay bare the propaganda I once fell for. However, it was not spite of my old life that drove me. Rather my increasing affection for Christ drew me to pursue his unsurpassable peace. Since graduation, I now do campus ministry at a Big Ten university, training college students to live like Jesus actually meant the stuff he said.
So…about ten years ago I came across a review of a book titled The Irresistible Revolution by some bloke I had never heard of called Shane Claiborne. It sounded very interesting to me and I went out of my way to order a copy from the States. A few weeks later, the book finally arrived, I started reading it, and was totally absorbed. The story that Shane had to share was…well, irresistible. I could not put it down and when I had finished it I excitedly shared my experience with my wife and partner in ministry, Xana. We have been in ministry since the early eighties and started living in community in Johannesburg South Africa in 1986. We are founders of Hands of Compassion, a nonprofit bringing hope to the poor, addicted, rejected and marginalized. At the time of reading the book we were “growing weary of doing good, ” but Shane’s words just challenged and inspired us to believe again–to believe that another world is possible and that God had called us to be part of building His kingdom and to be part of the revolution! Shane has since become a good friend of ours and has visited with us in South Africa twice (we are currently trying to put together a third visit). We have also stayed at the Simple Way and our daughter Gina lived and served there for awhile. I can honestly say that along with Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, The Irresistible Revolution has impacted my life more than any of the many other books I have read over the years. My wife and I are grateful to have been ministered to by Shane through his writings and friendship. Thank you, Shane, for inviting us to be a part of the revolution–we just could not resist.
Alan and Xana McCauley