This book is a “handbook” on helping people – men, women, or children who do not know about Jesus Christ or do not have any religious training - to convert and receive the gift of faith. The conversion the authors write about is receiving and knowing the forgiveness and mercy of God. Authors J. L. Graham and Michael D. Putnam write this handbook from their own Protestant point of view. Catholics and Orthodox, though, can learn something from this book as well but will need to adapt it to their teachings.
In Graham’s introduction, he clears the air by saying that he and Putnam know what it is like to be sinners and to experience the forgiveness and mercy of God. Both were drug addicts who came to see the light of Christ with their knowledge of what it is like to be a sinner and in need of redemption; by this authority, they can instruct those who want to help people like they were to see the light. They decided to use the metaphor of fishing in their handbook, appropriate as Jesus said in the Gospel that he would make his disciples “fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)
Graham and Putnam compare fishermen to soldiers or knights battling Satan to save souls, using New International Version and King James Version Bible passages often. Catholics and others who believe we work throughout our lives to receive redemption may have problems with the Protestant idea of being saved. Catholics and others believe we work throughout our lives to receive redemption. If the reader is not a follower of the “being saved” idea but can move past that, he or she can learn a lot. One could use the word “convert” in place of “being saved.”
The authors provide many examples from the apostles and prophets on how to help people to convert and find God. They compare what disciples of Christ had to do then or have to do now to be a servant of God. The disciples gave up family, riches, even themselves for the sake of the Kingdom; this was not easy then, nor is it easy now. The rewards, though, are great in heaven.
In chapter two, eighteen guidelines to help fisherman learn how to fish for lost souls. Some of the guidelines come across initially as being like a private detective’s spying on someone, but similar methods are needed. In chapter three, the authors teach about how to prepare for fishing and what equipment is needed. In chapter four, they say the fisher needs to have a right attitude and be aware of the devil’s attacks. In chapter five, Graham and Putnam make suggestions as to where to go fishing. In chapter six, they inform the fisher how to talk or not to talk and how to dress and behave. In chapter seven they encourage the fisher not to give up.
Chapters eight, nine and ten cover the fisher getting a bite and what to do next. The fish should not be scared away but be gently reeled in. This may involve asking the help of another fisher to help. Once the fish is caught, the authors suggest that the fisher(s) should not demand too much of the fish by forcing them to attend church or church events; instead, they should gently invite them to church or other events and slowly reel them in. If a fisher acts too quickly or roughly, he or she might chase off the fish - which would mean losing a soul.
Graham and Putnam’s analogy of fishing in helping to convert souls is apt. The handbook is down to earth and practical, recommended for those needing an aid in their ministry or mission in saving souls.