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“We all have the chance to make huge changes in our life with small steps”

Claire Diaz-Ortiz

Claire Diaz-Ortiz

Despite being one of the foremost thinkers in the world of technology and social media – including being part of the team that set the Pope up on Twitter – it is her life-changing experience in Africa and the relationship with her African foster son (and co-author) that Claire Diaz-Ortiz writes about in her new book. ‘Hope Runs’, as she explains below.

Buy ‘Hope Runs’ for just £7.99 (£8.99)

What led you to write this book?

The book is not the book many folks expected me to write. It’s not a book about business, productivity, or technology book. Not at all!

Hope Runs is a joint memoir with my Kenyan foster son, all about the strange journey we’ve taken together. From meeting him in his orphanage in 2006, to spending a year living in his orphanage and starting a non-profit organisation, to ultimately bringing him to the United States five years ago, it’s a joint story of our now-intertwined lives. It’s a story we both felt we had to write.

Buy 'Hope Runs' for just £7.99 (RRP £8.99)

Buy ‘Hope Runs’ for just £7.99 (RRP £8.99)

Your book describes how your life took quite an unexpected turn in meeting Samuel – were you ready for such a change?

Absolutely not! I was not at all prepared for what happened that day in the orphanage. I went to stay for a night, stayed for a year, and experienced a life-changing experience.

You were in a position where you were able to take some incredible decisions to make a difference in someone else’s life – what parallels are there for someone living and working a regular job in the west?

We all have the chance to make huge changes in our life with small steps. Even if you can’t move to Africa, you can do something today to make your life better than you ever imagined. Your job is to find that thing.

What role does your Christian faith play in your everyday work and life?

My faith is essential to the decisions I make every day. It fuels me, energises me, and directs me on a minute-by-minute level.

What do you hope people take away with them after reading this book?

I hope that this book brings hope to others. Whether it’s seeing the hope in your own life, or the hope you can bring to others – Hope Runs aims to extend more hope to you and your community.

Buy ‘Hope Runs’ for just £7.99 (£8.99)

Increasing our awareness of God

David Adam has been a consistent voice whose writing have encourage a contemplative approach to prayer for over twenty years. His latest collection of prayers, ‘Encompassing God‘ uses a simple approach to help people become aware of the presence of the Divine around them.

Buy Encompassing God for just £7.49 (RRP £8.99)

What was your aim in writing this book?

David Adam

David Adam

Encompassing God was written with the desire to share with people a simple form of prayer which has great depth. This form of prayer has enriched my own life over many years. It affirms that God is with each of us. He waits for us to turn to him: to give him our attention. We dwell in his presence, his peace, his power, yet we fail to be aware of this abiding presence.


You seem to see prayer more as becoming aware of God rather than petitioning him? Is this a fair observation?

God likes us to share our needs and desires with him, yet often we talk so much and rarely listen to God. Petition without a sense of awe and awareness is often in danger of sounding like our shopping list, or a series of demands. Once we are aware of God, we become aware that he knows us and our needs. Prayer is not to make God react but rather to open our lives to allow God to be at work in them.

Buy 'Encompassing God' for just £7.49 (RRP £8.99)

Buy ‘Encompassing God’ for just £7.49 (RRP £8.99)

The contemplative form of prayer seems missing from many contemporary expressions of Christianity – why do you think this is?

Because we have been trained to think analytically and scientifically, we tend to lose sight of other ways of thinking. This is especially true in an age when we expect instant replies and results. Many of our services and acts of worship lack stillness.  We find it hard to give our undivided attention to anything for long.

How would you see the prayers in this book being used?

I would like to think people would learn the ‘prayer of seven directions’ and then apply each direction to their own lives. I have encouraged groups to act this prayer out and to dance it out. Groups can use these prayers about the presence to centre their worship on the presence of God and to reach out to others. I would hope they would discover that affirming the presence helps people to become more aware of God’s love and acceptance of us all.

Prayer seems most elusive when life is most difficult. How can this be overcome?

There are times when it is hard to pray: times when we feel God is far off. Sometimes we cannot find any words. When I come to such times I affirm the presence, even though I am not aware of God. It is such times a prayer like the prayer of seven directions is useful

What would you hope people take away from this book?

That they are loved by God and that in him they live and move and have their being. God is always with them and ready to welcome and accept them

R T Kendall: Pursuing God’s Wisdom

R T Kendall

R T Kendall

There are few contemporary thinkers who can command respect across many denominational boundaries in the way that R T Kendall has achieved in his many years as a preacher and writer. With his latest book,’In Pursuit of of His Wisdom’ he turns his attention to one of the great needs and challenges of the Christian life.

Buy ‘In Pursuit of His Wisdom’ for just £11.99 (RRP £13.99)

This books seems to have been on your mind for some time – what was your motivation for writing it now?

I am not sure I know! Some twenty years ago a lady asked me to write a book on wisdom and I always thought that perhaps one day I would.  In recent years the idea of a book on wisdom has grown until the day I started writing it.

Buy 'In Pursuit of His Wisdom' for just £11.99 (RRP £13.99)

Buy ‘In Pursuit of His Wisdom’ for just £11.99 (RRP £13.99)

How would you distinguish between wisdom as you describe it, and knowledge that can be obtained through study and reason?

Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord – available to anybody whereas some people are not necessarily ‘intellectual’. One can be intellectual and not be intelligent; one can be clever but not wise. The wonderful thing is, wisdom is available to all who fear the Lord.

Is it possible to obtain wisdom outside of a knowledge of the work on the cross?

Very good question. I have a section in my book called ‘common grace’ – God’s goodness to all people, whether or not they are Christians. So with that in mind, a person can show amazing wisdom without being saved. I would have thought that (in my opinion) Winston Churchill is an example of this.

Is there a danger, even amongst Christians, that the idea of wisdom only revealed by God, can lead to a form of gnosticism?

No, that is, not the way I myself would define wisdom – namely, the presence of the mind of the Holy Spirit. This definition keeps one squarely within Holy Scripture.

How does someone find wisdom in the midst of busy, challenging lives with all of the many pressures that people face?

It is not easy. But if one has a steady spiritual diet of prayer and Bible reading, one has a head start in being able to cope with sudden crises or pressures.

What do you hope people will take away from this book?

Two things: (1) the knowledge that true wisdom is found only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and (2) the fact that God delights in giving wisdom to those who love Him.

Buy ‘In Pursuit of His Wisdom’ for just £11.99 (RRP £13.99)


No Greatness without Goodness

For sixteen years, Randy was the Senior Vice-President at US based company, Walgreens, and was responsible for a complete overhaul of its employment policy. Inspired by the struggles and abilities of his autistic son, Austin (now 21), Randy campaigned to provide better employment rights for those with disabilities. His new book, No Greatness Without Goodness, recounts the story of events leading him to create the Walgreens Model – the “gold standard of disability hiring” and which has inspired a similar programme at M&S here in the UK.

Buy ‘No Greatness without Goodness’ for just £12.82 (RRP £13.49) 

Randy Lewis

Randy Lewis

This is a story involving hundreds of people across three continents who came together in one of the world’s largest companies (Global 100) to build a mission-critical centre that would successfully employ people with disabilities in unprecedented numbers. The immediate goal was to make the company more successful. The ultimate goal was to help change the way business views people with disabilities. It exceeded our expectations in every way and has led other companies around the world to launch their own initiatives.

Since then people often ask questions about it. Why did you do it? How did you get others on board? Why did you take such a risk?  What made you think it would work?

Sometimes people ask different and more personal questions. What can I do to make a difference? How will I know when an opportunity comes along?

I wrote the book to answer the straightforward questions and to provide insight into the others. I wanted to show that big business can make a difference and make a profit. All that’s needed is for people who want to do good to step forward. Others will join them. Everyone wants to do something bigger than themselves.  Everyone knows in his and her deepest self that there is no greatness without goodness.

In doing what had never been done, we stood on the shoulders of others before us. The experience of our contemporaries who do great work in employment and related fields was just waiting for us to tap into it. Employing people with disabilities unleashed a tremendous source of creativity – the kind that can only come from a lifetime of having to learn how to do things differently because you can’t do things like everyone else. Everyone benefited. We learned lessons in leadership that no book could ever teach.  We found that we were all better people than we thought we were – more resourceful and more compassionate, more willing to work together and more intent on productivity.

We are connected by story. We learn from story. It teaches directly and though nuance and everyone hears it differently depending on disposition and circumstance. Looking back even I am astounded by what was accomplished and how the unlikely parts came together. It will remind readers of the power that comes with listening to their better angels. I believed this was a story worth telling, and one that readers could easily relate to through the lens of their own experiences. And I tried to extract the lessons we learned and highlight them as they applied to the narrative along the way. In short, an amazing story and a how-to guide for those who want to make a difference.

Buy 'No Greatness without Goodness' for just £12.82 (RRP £13.49)

Buy ‘No Greatness without Goodness’ for just £12.82 (RRP £13.49)

How far reaching have the actions of Walgreens in the US been – have you seen much response here in the UK?

From the initial site in Anderson SC that is talked about in the book, it spread throughout our logistics network of twenty distribution centres where we now employ over a thousand of people with disabilities, many of whom had never been able to find steady work. From there it is moving into Walgreens 8,000 stores which employ 240,000. Other large companies in the US have visited and deployed a similar model in their own businesses: P&G, Best Buy, UPS, Glaxo Smith Kline, Lowe’s, Safeway, Toy’s R’ Us, West Marine, Autozone, Colgate. Companies as far away as Brazil (Natura) and Sweden (Ica) have come and have launched their own initiatives.

About three years ago M&S in the UK heard about our work and visited.  From their experience, they decided to launch a similar initative in their newest distribution center near Nottingham.  They have been in operation for about a year and employ about 200 PWDs, 25% of their workforce. On my recent visit to the UK, I visited them to see it firsthand.  I told them that I had been waiting three years and had traveled thousand of miles to thank them for all those families whose lives they are changing and for their leadership in serving as an example for other UK companies.

This is an idea whose time has come.  It will gain momentum as leaders recognize they are missing out on a competent and committed workforce.  It is a win for business and society.  I hope the UK becomes a world leader.

How far should companies go in accommodating those with disabilities?

One of the first things that comes up is concerns about the cost of accommodations.  Our experience across our 1000+ employees is that the average accommodation is less than $25 and most are created with paper and pencil.  Not a bad deal for a worker that performs as well, who works safer, is less likely to quit, and more likely to be there every day.  Also we learned that almost all our “accommodations” made the work easier, safer and more productive for ALL workers, not just those with disabilities.

Beware the concern about how far to go may be just another excuse not to get started. Current best practice is to budget corporately a central pool of funds for more extensive accommodations so that line managers are not burdened with the costs impacting their day-to-day operating budget just as the benefits of better safety, retention and less absenteeism are rarely reflected in operating budgets.

Has your Christianity influenced how you think people should respond to those with disabilities?

It has everything to do with my view we as Christians should respond. I need only to look to the example of Jesus. He was inclusive in all things: he always was with those on the margins; he used the outcasts and the disenfranchised to illustrate his lessons.  He asked a simple question, who is my neighbour?  He said that they would know us by our love for one another.  And I have never forgotten the story in John when Peter was professing his love for Jesus and then Jesus telling him to feed and tend his sheep.

And if our Christian hope is heaven where every tear will be wiped away and every wrong is righted, is it not our task as Christians to live and work in this world toward that goal?

Buy ‘No Greatness without Goodness’ for just £12.82 (RRP £13.49) 

No Greatness Without Goodness by Randy Lewis is published by Lion Hudson