Heuertz’s New Book Shows Us The Unexpected


March 20th, 2013

Omaha, NE — Unexpected Gifts is a new book by local author Christopher Heuertz that hopes to strengthen communities both large and small.

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After being mentored by Mother Teresa, Chris Heuertz has spent the past 20 years helping those in need. He helped launch South Asia’s first pediatric AIDS care home, worked on behalf of women and children victimized by human traffickers in the commercial sex industry, and brought aid to children recruited into becoming soldiers. When he looked back upon the work that he accomplished along with his wife and other members of his community, Heuertz couldn’t help but wonder what else he could have done.

Chris Heuertz“And so I was looking back sort of really reflectively in 20 years of doing this work together with folks and friends and doing this in community. But just lamenting the loses, some of the ways we hurt each other, failed each other, let each other down. Some of the ways that we mishandled transition. So I think that created an environment where I began to think that this could be the topic of my next book.”

The book is called Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community. In it, Heuertz details eleven inevitable challenges that all friendships, relationships, and communities expereience if they stay together long enough. The Challenges include Failure, Doubt, Isolation, Betrayal, and Restlessness among others. Heuertz states that rather allowing these challenges to become excuses to leave, they could actually be invitations to stay and strengthen the community. What makes the book unique though, is the confessional tone that Christopher writes with.

“And so I felt like the eleven chapters that made the book were really some of the more painful challenges I’ve experienced and faced in community and some of the things that I’ve had to work through that have cost a lot. Writing the book was at times painful, of course. There are bits that are very vulnerable and confessional but it felt for there to be integrity in the content of what I was trying to say, I felt like I had to have lived some of that before I could say it.”

The book strikes constant parallels between communities in developed countries, like the United State, and those communities in underdeveloped areas. The similarities between the two can be eye-opening while the differences can show us where can both improve. One key challenge for individuals Heuertz says is that many people want to be a part of community but no one wants to give what it takes to be in community.

“And this is the real challenge. That we show up to communities with these predetermined scripts of what roles everyone’s going to play and what needs they are going to meet for us and what problems they will solve for us. And then this notion of who we think we’ll become on the other side of it. And if we show up to community only to use community for personal formation or growth then we’re not giving something else of ourselves up, we’re only taking. I think those are very dangerous relationships to be in.”

While the book is grounded in Heuertz’s Christian faith, it is not used a soap box of conversion. Rather, it’s a starting point for discussion for people of any faith or lack thereof to create a world that puts people before principles and that bring about a culture not just of tolerance, but of respect for all.

Unexpected Gifts is published by Howard Books and is available at most online retailers as well as bookstores. A Book Release will be hosted March 20th at House of Loom on 10th and Pacific at 6pm.

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