Review by David Powlison

This review was originally printed in the Journal of Biblical Counseling, Vol. 16, No. 1, Fall 1997 and is reprinted with permission.

by David Powlison

Corlette Sande has written a book for parents, teachers, pastors, counselors, missionaries… and for children themselves. The Young Peacemaker (YP) contains twelve chapters on how children can resolve interpersonal conflicts. Each of the lessons comes with a student activity book (each ten pages of content) that lets children apply the lesson to themselves. Sande’s material is biblical, thorough, well-organized, practical, and vividly engaging.

The opening chapter aims to help students understand what conflict is and how they can respond. It presents the “slippery slope” of conflict: “Work-it-out” responses make for peace and stand in contrast to “Attack” and “Escape” reactions that destroy relationships. Several pages from the first student activity book are reproduced in the “Let Me Draw a Picture” section of this issue of JBC. Subsequent chapters discuss the cause of conflict, blameshifting, confession, forgiveness, and constructive communication. YP naturally focuses on horizontal relationships, but this is not a book of moralistic platitudes. The resolution of interpersonal conflict is firmly anchored in the vertical dimension, in the God who sees and weighs our sin, and who gave His beloved Son that we might live through Him.

YP will prove to be an invaluable resource in day schools, Sunday schools, and families. The activity books are pegged to a 5th-6th-grade level, but will be useful both for younger children and for adults. School principals will use it to train teachers as a part of curriculum and as school policy about how to resolve conflicts; counselors will use YP to help angry and estranged people; preachers will find a sermon series in it; missionaries will use YP both to set up evangelism and to edify new (and old) believers. All will find an object lesson in how to address real life struggles in clear, gripping terms. I imagine the book will find its way into the hands of translators and be used worldwide. It’s that good. YP is simple, not simplistic. Simple embraces the depths and complexities of human interactions, and brings good sense, hope, and the practical power of the God of grace.

YP is not a book simply to read in order to glean a few ideas. It is a book to use, and to use with others. I believe that whatever your ministry, you will find it cuts straight to the heart of a problem that you deal with just about every day.