Sharing Christ With The Dying: Bringing Hope To Those Near The End Of Life, by Melody Rossi
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany Books in exchange for an honest review.]
Most of us are not particularly comfortable with death . It is unpleasant, it makes a mockery of our hopes and dreams, and it is filled with loss and grief, and plenty of shame and embarrassment. Nevertheless, the approach of death and the realization of one’s impending demise does tend to create a vulnerability to matters of great spiritual importance that it is easy to push aside when one is feeling self-sufficient and competent, as is commonly the case when people are in good health and are not inclined to be particularly reflective. This book is written by someone who sees the approach of death in loved ones as being an opportunity for evangelism.
It is fortunate that the discussion of this process only takes up the first part of the book, which is uncomfortable to read for those of us who do not share the author’s view about the need to redeem souls before they are lost forever. Thankfully, the author does not dwell on this belief, nor does she appear to have any sort of belief in the importance of sacraments or rituals (like baptism or the laying on of hands) when it comes to salvation, merely a verbal profession of belief in Jesus Christ. Likewise, the author does not appear to have any particular realization of the continuity between the laws of the Old Covenant and the fact that those same laws are to be written in our hearts and minds through the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit for those who are genuine believers. Those readers with stark differences of belief in the process of justification and sanctification and in the doctrine of the resurrections will find these portions of the book to be of little value.
That said, this book is well-organized, starting with section that seeks to inspire a desire to get the reader to stand up and be willing to engage in the process of deathbed evangelism, then looks at the practical resources needed for those who are comforting and caring for the dying (map, sturdy shoes, GPS, emergency information—notebooks and the like, traveler’s assistance—where to find help like social workers and a group of encouraging supporters), an encouragement to persistence (dealing with spiritual warfare, endurance, God’s covenants, and making arrangements), and a final section that deals with death (looking at the invisible work God does with the dying, giving gifts, physical changes that accompany dying, and death and grieving itself). Readers will find plenty of practical information about what sort of people and agencies and organizations are able to help those who are dying, and this practical information is useful even if someone merely wishes to comfort those who are dying, without any sort of ulterior motives.
Few people enjoy dealing with the subject of death, and there are a lot of ways in which the process of dying is very uneven. Often, as the author notes, deaths come in clusters (which makes the grieving process a bit more complicated because of the cumulative sense of loss), and death can be either sudden or prolonged in nature. While there are a lot of disagreements that I would have with the author about the nature of the Gospel that she uses to attempt to reach those who are dying to some kind of spiritual peace, the practical tone of much of this work, which is the result of a great deal of personal experience with the dying, and the ability to recognize the patterns that can be found in that process, are something that are useful and helpful even without the reader sharing the author’s goal of the efficacy or necessity of sharing the gospel with those whose next waking moment will give them the chance to repent and to seek God and have the time to develop in maturity and spiritual growth. A proper understanding of death and the afterlife can give one peace, knowing that even if the end of life can be full of great torment, those who are dying are simply preparing for their sleep until their bodies are raised in the resurrection of the just or the general resurrection, depending on their relationship with God and the way in which they have lived. As little as we look forward to death for ourselves or anyone we care about, hopefully we can take some comfort in that.
 See, for example: