Rich Villlodas describes himself humbly and with certainty: He’s a husband to his wife, Rosie, a father to two beautiful children, a son, a pastor and a follower of Jesus. Through his books and his tenure as pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, N.Y., however, readers learn there is much more to know about this man of God.
Villodas desires to help readers, as well as his congregation, understand the beauty and wonder of Jesus. He speaks about how he came to faith in Jesus Christ at age 19, along with many of his family members, on the same night, in a small church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Now, 24 years later, he is on a journey not just to bring others to faith in Christ but to preach hope in a world many see as hopeless.
Author of the award-winning book The Deeply Formed Life, Villodas also is a keynote speaker for Emotionally Healthy Discipleship, which has touched many people in need of spiritual health and encouragement.
His latest book, Good and Beautiful and Kind: Becoming Whole in a Fractured World, addresses the modern problems of hurt, distrust, confusion and brokenness in health, politics, racism and classism that a growing number of believers find themselves trying to navigate.
Growing up, Villlodas wanted to be a rapper, which explains his natural love for and ability to use words to reach people and paint relatable pictures.
That shows also in the title of the new book. “Those three words (good, beautiful and kind) actually emerged from the Langston Hughes poem ‘Tired,’” he explained. “What Hughes does is set me on a particular trajectory to make sense of the cultural moment we’re in and what Jesus invites us into.”
In the poem, the line “I’m so tired, aren’t you, of waiting on the world to be good and beautiful and kind” challenged Villodas and pointed him toward the solutions he now highlights in his book.
The first few chapters of Good and Beautiful and Kind explain the problems of the world that stem from sin, trauma and powers and principalities, but Villados doesn’t just leave the reader there without a roadmap of where to go. The last six chapters discuss his positive vision to get beyond a life focused on and catapulted by negativity.
“What if there was a way that made for peace, joy and love?” he asks, believing solutions are found in God’s goodness, beauty and kindness.
He writes from the perspective of a pastor who serves a remarkably multiracial, multicultural church.
He writes from the perspective of a pastor who serves a remarkably multiracial, multicultural church — consisting of members from 75 nations and situated in a neighborhood where 123 languages are spoken. With such a mixture of ethnic, political and cultural views, he testifies that God must be the source of the unifying answers needed.
Villodas wrote this book, he said, “because I’m trying to serve the people God has entrusted to me. I want to point people with as much intentionality as I can to the life of Jesus. It’s easier to preach the kingdom than to live it.”
Unlike many other books addressing multiculturalism, Villados highlights prayer and, specifically, contemplative prayer. This kind of prayer is “marked by presence with the Lord and not a transactional process,” he said. “It is the training of the soul to be present with others,” not just enjoying God’s presence.
This type of prayer is not solely about solitude and stillness, but it also requires a presence with others in order to make the world whole.
He uses a story of a man in the Bible called Naaman, a commander of the army of Syria, whom he connects with the virtue of humility. Naaman has leprosy and is clothed with armor. Even though Naaman is a stubborn man, he takes off his armor, dips into the Jordan River seven times, and comes out pure, healed and clean.
This act of Naman exposing all of himself, his sin, and showing humility serves in the book as a metaphor for how readers can break down walls, become clean and release the sin that prevents them from demonstrating humility.
Humans possess an innate instinct to love others and to show the loving-kindness of Christ, Villodas believes. That’s what humans were made to do before sin changed that outcome, he said.
Understanding that, Christians should seek to join hands with Jesus in creating a world that’s good, beautiful and kind.
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