Book Reviews

Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling has received the 5-Star Seal from a couple of Book Reviewers.

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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling is a work of contemporary Christian writing by author Ron Vance. Intended as an inspirational guide to finding one’s own unique ministry and way of praising and spreading the word of God, the book describes in detail the calling of its author and how he found a way to inspire his community. The practice is that of creating Bible sticks, intricately carved wooden poles which each take over a year to make, and which Ron has used in his local church to teach the stories and lessons of Christianity. Now the book expands these lessons to the wider world, showing how the calling to serve God can develop in nontraditional but still meritorious ways.

I really enjoyed Ron Vance’s story as an alternative to the traditional devotional. Since he began his quest aimed at young people, I think this book will speak to them most of all, inspiring creativity and new ways to engage today’s youth in the old, traditional ways of worship. The images and descriptions of the process are beautiful, and I found that they really showed the true devotion that Ron has to his work and to God. The prose of his actual journey over the years was also inspiring but very down to earth, describing what sounds like a very fulfilling discovery of his calling that is sure to inspire others. Overall, Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling is a highly recommended book for Christians looking to engage their youth in a brand new creative and unconventional way.

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite
What do we do if we make a mistake? That’s a very loaded question. It depends on the mistake. If we’re creating a work of art and we make a mistake, we sometimes have the choice to erase the error, to paint over it, to scratch it out, carve it out (if it’s a carving), or to toss the creation and start over. For carver Ron Vance, tossing one of his creations was not an option. He’s a youth minister who’s taken up a passion for carving walking sticks. Very specific carvings, using biblical passages or people from the Bible to give him inspiration and symbols to decorate the long rod that becomes a walking stick.

It all began at a Christian wilderness camp. With all the hiking he was doing, Ron picked up a stick to serve as his walking stick. Over the course of the camp experience, he began carving symbols on his stick. The finished walking stick inspired him to do more and his project became a passion. So much so that, to date, he’s carved dozens of walking sticks over a thirty-year period, and he’s recently  written a book, Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling, about his ongoing project.  Ron Vance is a very creative man. As well as walking sticks, he’s created other visual images, each work dedicating and honoring his faith, sharing with others the importance of being true to oneself and to do what God calls us to do, with a passion and a confirmed dedication. One of his favorite Bible quotes, from  Colossians, supports this belief: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Written in storytelling format, the book leads the reader through the various walking sticks and their biblical associations. Beautifully illustrated with photographs of the walking sticks, the book and the author’s visual creations are an inspiration to us all.

 

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite
Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling is a nonfiction Christian Living/arts and crafts book written by Ron Vance. In introducing his subject, author Ron Vance quotes from Colossians chapter three: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The wooden hiking stick Vance chose during a week spent at Wilderness Camp in 1988 provided him with the opportunity to do just that. He carved the dates of the camping experience into the wood, as well
as the names of the eleven participants. It was his first attempt at carving, and the end result was something he felt proud of. He considered how much he could do with a good knife and a dowel, and started carving. Vance is the associate minister at Western Hills Church of Christ in Cincinnati, and he works with the youth of his community. He was always trying to find new ways to reach his audience and convey to them his enthusiasm for his faith. After
experimenting with that X-acto knife and the first dowel he bought, he decided to use his growing carving skills to teach the Bible.

Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling is an unforgettable example of that biblical quote the author loves so well. Each of the wooden sticks he displays and describes in this book are works of art, and more, as they are solid and continuing evidence of his religious calling. As I read through the book and examined each of the progressively more intricately carved sticks, I was so moved by both Vance’s creative spark and his dedication to his craft and faith. I’ve long had an interest in crafts and craftspeople, and approached this book
from that perspective. I left with a deeper appreciation for the artist’s purpose in glorifying his God and a profound respect for his abilities as a sculptor/carver. The photographs showing the Bible Sticks are perfectly composed to allow the reader to fully examine the carvings with their intricate weaving and latticework and their stories. This book, I should think, will spread Ron Vance’s words in action far and wide. Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling is most highly
recommended.

 

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers’ Favorite
Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling by Ron Vance is an inspiring  Christian book that chronicles the creative journey of a woodcarver. In 1988, Vance found his love for the craft. It started out as just simple curiosity but with time he worked on his gift and his sticks now include more complicated designs. Over the years, he has carved sticks that tell the stories of different biblical characters such as the disciples of Jesus or the Israelite judges, who include Gideon and Samson. His sticks also present biblical stories and events, for instance the Creation story, the ten plagues of Egypt and some of the humorous teachings of Jesus. Some also include lists of different components from both the Old and New Testaments.

Colorful images are included which helped me appreciate Vance’s talent. They also make the content even more fascinating. Bible Sticks challenged and encouraged me to use my gifts for the glory of God and for the good of people. The number of painstaking hours that the author took to create the designs was surprising, which reflects on his dedication to his ministry and his love for what he does. The carved sticks also share the stories of the Bible in an unusual and interesting way. The fact that one single stick contains so many stories, presented in a way that is easy to remember, makes the designs even more exceptional. Ron Vance also shares some of the discoveries he made from the Bible while creating his art pieces. Bible Sticks is unique and contains inspiring lessons.

 

Reviewed by Samantha Gregory for Readers’ Favorite
Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling by Ron Vance is the story of how Ron has used his hobby of wood carving to help teach kids about the Bible, carving pieces for different sections or stories of the Bible. He includes pictures of his unique designs in this book and you can see the hard work that has gone into them. They are very detailed and he explains the ideas behind each one. The fact that he doesn’t have any training is particularly impressive. Each piece can take up to a year to create so this is something he has dedicated his life to doing. I imagine it takes a lot of patience too.

Ron Vance has created a great way to reach kids and to teach them through visual aids with Bible Sticks: An Unlikely Calling. I think I am most impressed with the fact that he was able to create a chain from a piece of wood. I would not think that it was possible, but he was able to make one. The ten plagues of Egypt staff is also eye catching in its design. I think that the book is marketable as it offers something new and different. For some kids, it can be difficult for them to learn new information. Sitting and listening to someone read from the Bible is a lot different to having the stories come to life. Readers can also interact with the stories themselves. I think that the book will do well on the market.

Reviewed by Joan Nienhuis

Some of might think we don’t have any skills with which to honor God. Vance’s story shows that God might surprise us. It started with carving a walking stick at a church camp. He tried more with a variety of designs. When asked what he would do with them, he decided to carve ones with purpose. He created one representing the twelve apostles and then one describing creation. A stick of the ten commandments followed, then one on the armor of God and another on the fruit of the Spirit and then many more.

The book contains wonderful illustrations of the sticks and explanations of their content. The detail on the sticks is amazing. There is even an illustration in the book of a chain carved from a dowel and instructions on how to do it. Vance’s attention to detail means it takes from months to over a year to carve each stick. He progressed to hinges and then spirals of wood that fit together. He uses only an X-ACTO® knife, wood burning tools and stains.

Vance does not know what the future holds but he does know that if he continues to do his best for Him, he will be blessed beyond what he could ever imagine. His is an inspiring story.

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