An unexpected thing happened last May on a plane bound for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A group of ten adults was travelling to the historic East African country to work with the organization Water to Thrive. W2T is a faith-based non-profit dedicated to fighting one part of the global water crisis by bringing clean, safe well-water to those who need it in rural Africa. Jim Sorensen, a former missionary in Ethiopia and a W2T board member, went on the trip to serve as an experienced guide for the group. Mike Rinehart, bishop of the Gulf Coast Synod (ELCA), was a first-time participant wanting to learn more about W2T’s work in order to inspire greater support for W2T’s mission upon his return to the Houston area.
Mr. Sorensen and the good bishop were seated near each other on the Boeing 777, and as they settled in for the fifteen hour trip, both reached in their carry-on bags and produced – did you guess? – brand new copies of Just a Little Bit More. They exchanged glances of surprise; this was more than mere coincidence. They had independently received a copy of the new book, and unbeknownst one to the other, had the same reading plan for the long flight over the Atlantic and the mid-section of the African continent. In just its second week of publication, JaLBM was making its way to Africa with two travelers committed to fighting the debilitating effects of lingering poverty.
It took me the better part of three years to write and publish Just a Little Bit More. As a matter of fact, I picked up the first one hundred copies fresh off the digital presses of my printer in Austin (Ultimate Imaging) on Friday, May 2, 2014. The Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly (ELCA) convened in Austin the very next day, and Bishop Ray Tiemann was kind enough to announce to the gathered group that my awaited book was available. A number of colleagues and assembly attendees purchased copies. The next weekend the Gulf Coast Synod would gather in Baton Rouge for their assembly meeting. Good friend and Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest rep David Johnson attended the assembly and delivered a promised copy of JaLBM to Bishop Rinehart. Mike promised me he’d give JaLBM a read and tell others about the book through his website. That same weekend back in Austin, good friends Paul and Marsha Collinson-Streng hosted a book signing party. A number of other good friends came to share in the festivities; we ate, drank, visited, and listened to a reading. Pastor Lynnae Sorensen was at the party; she had originally purchased a copy at the Austin synod assembly meeting, but wanted one more “for my dad who is travelling to Ethiopia on Sunday.”
Jim Sorensen finished reading JaLBM before the group got back to the States – less than two weeks. Jim says that JaLBM is “a great book; like a lesson on what creates poverty, and how we end up perpetuating poverty! A must-read for all Christians who care.”
Bishop Mike put up a review of JaLBM last August on his blog. “Just a Little Bit More engages in a critique of the god of mammon, lamenting that the concept of the common good, so central to American history, has fallen out of favor. T. Carlos Anderson believes liberty and egalitarianism need not fight with one another. They can coexist in such a way that all can have enough.”
Both Jim and Bishop Mike get gold stars – as do a few hundred others – for reading the smaller font first edition of JaLBM. With a larger font, the second edition of JaLBM came out in October 2014 coinciding with the release of the ebook version. Close to 750 copies of JaLBM have been sold and distributed in its first year of availability. A big thanks goes out to people like Jim and Bishop Mike who have given their support to the book and its author! The purpose of the book’s publication and dissemination is to spur conversation and action that uplifts the common good in our midst, and in places throughout the world, like Africa.
The summary version/study guide of JaLBM is now available. At fifty pages with probing discussion questions at the end of each eight chapters, it’s the perfect accompaniment to the full length version to facilitate conversation and exchange in group study settings. Seeking common good and kingdom connection is the JaLBM motto, as seen in the good work of a great organization like W2T!
*Picture of Mike and Jim taken at 2015 Lutheran Legislative Event in Austin.
ELCA stands for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a national church organization of 4 million people and 10,000 community congregations.
Please visit the Water To Thrive website to learn more about the organization and how you can participate in its work.
Click here to purchase Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good. Paperback, $14.95. The summary version is available for $7.95. You will be redirected to the Blue Ocotillo Publishing website.