Death Bed Evangelism: a book review

Evangelism has fallen on hard times. There are reasons for this. Good Christians do not want to come across as judgmental. There is a widespread reaction to ‘bad evangelism’ where non-Christians were beat over the head with insensitive witnessing attempts. This is particularly true of evangelism to the dying. Are people ever more vulnerable than in the hours and days they rage against the dying of light? Is it manipulative for Christ followers to hoist their ideas of God and salvation on a bedridden soul who can’t escape their pitch? On the other hand, Christians believe that our eternal destiny is bound up with our response to Jesus. If we don’t tell people about Jesus we’ve failed to love well and to hold out the hope of heaven for the dying. So many of us ‘bad evangelists’ vacillate between our discomfort with evangelistic methods and feelings of shame for our failure to ‘evangelize.’

Thankfully Melody Rossi does not advocate manipulative dehumanizing strategies. Nor does she make us feel guilty for not sharing our faith. In Sharing Christ with the Dying: Bringing Hope to Those Near the End of Life she discusses how to make the most of every opportunity to share the hope that is within us. This is no abstract exercise.  Having recovered from a near-fatal surgical error herself, she also has walked along side others suffering serious illness, the suffering and the dying. This includes a family friend and her parents (mother, father and step-mom) and discovering ways to share her faith in gentle ways. This book is full of insights from her own experience.

Rossi also has a lot of practical advice. Ministry to the dying is hard. She talks about the need for adequate support networks, reliance on the Holy Spirit, attentiveness and  the importance of helping people with their emergency information (i.e. Will, emergency info etc). Loving the dying is hard work, and those who are watching a parent, a child or a loved one dye will find Rossi’s words encouraging. She does not give us a formula for evangelism but shares how she shared with each of her parents the love of Christ in ways that were meaningful to them.

It is refreshing reading an Evangelism book which is not manipulative but also dispenses practical advice on how to love well. If you have loved ones suffering and are unsure how to share your faith, Rossi is a good guide. But she will not give you a formula on how to bring your loved ones to faith. In each case she learned how to respond to what God was doing and tailored her evangelism. I give this book four stars.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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