I just finished reading The Necessity of an Enemy by Pastor Ron Carpenter Jr. of Greenville, SC. I fell in love with the book within one of its opening chapters where Carpenter tells his audience that he is from Possum Kingdom, SC. I know this area because it is my home too. Having grown up in Pelzer and Williamston, SC, and having gone to church in Possum Kingdom, I was immediately attracted to the “down home” or “back home” feel of the book.
Ron Carpenter Jr. and his wife, Hope, are the pastors of Greenville, SC’s only mega-church, Redemption World Outreach Center. They founded that church in 1991 with three members and determined to fight racism, rigid cultural lines, and poverty mentalities. They (being Davids) had a Goliath on their hands.
The gist of this book is that Carpenter uses an episode from his life to illustrate that God is at work in your life no matter what you are going through or what you are feeling at any given time. And he does this in a manner that is extremely transparent … even to the point of baring his and his family’s lives in ways that some might consider embarrassing. (Quite frankly, I found it honest and appealing … especially in the realization that NONE of us have it “all together.”)
One of the qualities of this book is found in its many, brief chapters. All chapters are around two to three pages and I consider it perfect for a bathroom read. (Figure that one out for yourself.) In the midst of his narrative, he also offers short, pithy statements in bold print that seed bold thoughts inside the reader. One such statement is “Everyday on earth you are actually becoming what you already are” (p. 41).Another is “To God, your life is a finished picture, beautifully painted on a canvas, and He is watching parts of it unfold every day” (p. 30). My copy of this book has many dog-eared pages where I continually returned to remind myself of the process God was taking me through.
I think one of the reasons I loved this book so well is that it came at a time in my life when I was in need and feeling deflated, betrayed, and pooped upon. Similar illustrations were clearly noted in Carpenter’s work where he experienced betrayal through the hands of someone whom he thought was trying to help him but who was actually “fleecing the flock.” And it all took place in a process where Carpenter and his church were attempting to bring ministry to needy people, including single moms, in the process of owning their own homes. Also in the process, Carpenter’s family name was smeared, many friends turned their backs on him, several in his church defected, and he and his family were tremendously wounded.
I was encouraged by the narrative and the report of how God brought the Carpenter family and Redemption World Outreach Center of Greenville, SC through this process. I was encouraged by the nuggets of wisdom distributed throughout the book. And further, I was encouraged by the change that I saw happening in my own life by allowing this story to be applied in my time of need.
I strongly recommend The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter Jr. and I am already using it in my personal life as well in my teachings. I rate it 5 out of 5. I appreciate the brief chapters and I further appreciate his transparency. If this book does not connect with you now, go ahead and read it anyway; you WILL need to be reminded of its contents at some soon-coming time.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. It is an Advanced Reading Copy and. Therefore, may have different page numbers and content from the full retail edition.
Jr., Ron Carpenter. The Necessity of an Enemy: How the Battle You Face Is Your best Opportunity. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 2012. ISBN: 030773028X