Andy Flannagan, Anne Calver - 12 Disciples; Young Peoples Stories Of Crisis And Faith

Published Wednesday 20th June 2007
Andy Flannagan, Anne Calver - 12 Disciples; Young Peoples Stories Of Crisis And Faith
Andy Flannagan, Anne Calver - 12 Disciples; Young Peoples Stories Of Crisis And Faith

RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
FORMAT: Book General book
RELEASE DATE: 2007-03-01
RRP: £7.99

Reviewed by Andrew Rolfe

Today's media is a bad news junkie and that also goes for young-folk-related articles. I bet it doesn't take you above 20 seconds to remember a teen horror story, and I use that word on purpose: you can't water down two heavily armed young guys gunning down their Columbine High classmates. But don't blame everything on the youth: how many mass murdering dictators are 25 or under? The problem is not age but the heart. The Bible is our guide and informs us in plain words: people's hearts are wicked and 100 per cent deceitful. But here's good news: God said he wants to give us a new heart and put his Holy Spirit inside us. "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Acts and Romans carry on." That's something like how the rhyme went at Sunday school. And it's true. It does carry on. After 2000 years the good news of Jesus keeps on making a difference and that's what this book is all about. In an easy-to-read 180 pages we learn a little about 12 disciples who had a change on the inside. 11 of them were born after 1982. The 12th is actually the veteran of the group. His name's Peter and he's around 2040 years old. Our two authors paint vivid pen pictures as they showcase the 12 lives. They don't use pretty poetry to sandpaper any rough edges or thick glossy prose to paint over teenage spots. The entire book is like talking with friends where honesty is a tool used constantly. Monarch (the publishers) used the word "gritty" in their press release. I agree: if 12 Disciples were a salad it'd be one where the lettuce was crunchy because of the soil. From the press blurb: "...uncensored stories of young people encountering... teenage pregnancy, suicide, youth crime... But there is hope rising from the ashes... and this book proves it." And here is where Andy and Anne differ from the tabloid pessimism: both tell raw tales but they don't stop at the disaster. They go beyond the story to the person. We learn the names of parents and siblings, hear about their feelings, go through the gut wrenching on to hope for the future. Peter's life is the most analysed, and sermonised (don't worry, the authors aren't boring preachers). The story of his walk with Jesus is parenthesised between stories from the present day: two lads on a train sharing their faith in the midst of chaos; a young woman somehow, miraculously, getting through the heartbreak of her father's suicide; a Youth For Christ worker facing utter disappointment as his young protégé returns back to his old way of life and there is nothing to do but feel the sadness of the wrong decision; a cynical young man matures realising that the Church remains the Church even if you don't agree with everything: that's why Peter's fellow disciple, John, wrote letters constantly telling us to love one another. From Andy Flannagan, "(The 12 stories) form a journey of faith, with each individual representing a different stage.first contact, first challenge, first doubts, calling, first use of gifts, first disappointment. a post modern pilgrim's progress. Their roller coaster stories are aligned with the story of Simon Peter, highlighting the similarities of some of the highs and lows of following this man called Jesus." Names and locations may have been altered to protect identity, but the stories are not watered down: they have an authentic kick to them.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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