By Eddie Sharp and Cheryl Mann Bacon
To comfort others is to share the love and presence of God.
The call to ministry in the name of Jesus holds many delights, joys, and encouragements. Yet the ministry of comfort—serving those who are dying or affected by death and grief—can be hard, forcing us to come face-to-face with human mortality. These moments in ministry take us into the colder shadows of life, but the world needs faithful men and women to serve the dying and the grieving—no hiding places, no excuses.
Comfort When the Shadow Falls is a reflective, compassionate, and holistic examination of how Christ calls us to minister in the shadow of death. Not only does it consider the biblical foundation for life, death, and hope, it offers seasoned, practical advice on how to serve the dying, come alongside grieving families, lead in funeral service for expected or sudden losses, and minister to the grieving unchurched in our communities.
“In the thirty years I have known Eddie Sharp, he has served the church with skill, integrity, and steadiness. This book is a treasure for all who seek to do the same. Thank you, Eddie, for this great book and your decades of faithful service.”—Max Lucado, pastor and best-selling author
“A cogent reflection is the powerful thesis of this book: ‘The brokenhearted need shoulders, not sermons.’ Join a caring, seasoned minister, who offers biblical grounding, personal wrestling matches with mortality, grief dynamics of the dying, families, and communities, and especially the sacredness ministers have in journeying with, rather than ‘fixing,’ grievers. Eddie’s shared personal narrative, formed by a lifetime of learning by being present, is truly a gift to all.”—Virgil Fry, Executive Director, Lifeline Chaplaincy
“I know of no one more qualified to write this book than Eddie Sharp. I’ve seen him walk everything he talks in these pages. He brings experience, compassion, and wisdom to this critical conversation. But most of all, Eddie’s thoughts on death and grief replace simplistic platitudes with a gospel big enough to embrace pain, mystery, and hope. Read and be blessed. I was.”—Rick Atchley, Senior Teaching Minister, The Hills Church
“Comfort When the Shadow Falls gently, kindly, generously inspires and teaches us that we can each be used by God as he fulfills his promise to bless those who mourn. This excellent resource blends Scripture, human behavior, and practical advice. What I did not expect was how much it feels like being mentored by someone with decades of experience carrying ‘the presence of Jesus into any and every situation—standing and not running away.’”—Jan Taylor, Director of Corporate Communication, UK HealthCare, University of Kentucky
“A thoughtful and well-written guide, deeply grounded in both truth and compassion. I have not discovered a more helpful, comprehensive resource in thirty years of oncology care. This excellent book should be in the library of all ministers and any other follower of Christ involved in a ministry of comfort.”—Jackie Matar, Radiation Oncologist, Lexington, KY
“This is a thorough discussion of life and death and a deep and perceptive delving into the full meaning of God’s intention of life for His children. A clear presentation of the full scope of the Gospel for our daily lives of our experience with the deaths of those we love. A helpful description of the comfort we can know when the shadow falls.”—Will Norton Jr., Professor and Dean, School of Journalism and New Media, University of Mississippi
“Having been on the receiving end of a caring, thoughtful, and present minister during the illnesses, deaths and funerals of my husband and mother, I know first-hand the value of having a minister’s involvement to provide critical support throughout the journey of loss and sorrow. This book offers concrete, detailed, and compassionate advice that can help any pastor better meet the needs of her or his congregation as members encounter unavoidable end-of-life experiences.”—Anne Ray Streeter, PhD, former Associate Professor of Communication, Lindsey Wilson College
“As a journalist, I often encounter religious leaders in the midst of tragedy. Many times, these ministers and other caring people of faith are thrust into a heart-wrenching situation—be it a natural or manmade disaster or a fatal diagnosis—with little training on how to serve the dying and grieving. That’s what makes Comfort When the Shadow Falls so important. Its compelling mix of real-life anecdotes, helpful Scriptures and sensible advice is much needed.”—Bobby Ross Jr., Chief Correspondent, The Christian Chronicle
“Comfort When the Shadow Falls offers practical wisdom for the challenging work of caring for those who are dying and grieving. With well-told stories and concrete examples, Sharp and Bacon tenderly guide ministers and caregivers with healthy biblical theology and clarity on the social and emotional elements of ministry. This book is a must-read for all who engage in pastoral care and congregational life!”—Dr. Carson E. Reed, Executive Director, Siburt Institute for Church Ministry, Abilene Christian University
Eddie Sharp has been in pastoral and preaching ministry for more than forty-five years. Serving churches in Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, he has been called to minister at more than five hundred funerals and speaks often to ministers in training about the challenges and opportunities inherent in times of loss and grief. Sharp earned his DMin from Abilene Christian University, where he currently serves as a senior consultant in the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry.
Cheryl Mann Bacon has spent her career in higher education and public relations. She earned her EdD in Educational Leadership from Texas Tech University. She served for twenty years as chair of the Journalism and Mass Communication department at Abilene Christian University. Through this role, and as a leader in church communications leader among churches where she has worshiped, she began a life-long ministry of assisting organizations in crisis and writing obituaries.
Dimensions (inches) 5.5 x 8.25