Be Not Afraid

Facing Fear with Faith

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Does God heal? Where do I turn when my faith is fragile? How can I face my own death? Is there a gospel for the rich? What am I going to do with my life? In brief, to-the-point chapters, preacher and ethicist Samuel Wells lucidly and compassionately explores topics Christians are often reluctant to face--death, weakness, power, difference, faith, and living life to the full--and offers down-to-earth guidance in facing common fears in the life of faith. "The heart of the gospel speaks into the most numbing and terrifying moments of our lives with words of hope and joy amid fear and bewilderment," writes Wells. Encouraging readers to look deep into the questions of their lives and deep into the heart of God, this book provides an intellectually rigorous but scripturally rooted and theologically accessible engagement with questions of faith. Pastors, seminarians, and all who want to know how the gospel can help them overcome common fears will value this work. 

Part 1: Be Not Afraid of Death
1. How to Die
2. Does God Heal?
3. May They Find in You a Blessing
4. So Much for Servant Ministry
5. The Five Ws
Part 2: Be Not Afraid of Weakness
6. Is There a Balm in Gilead?
7. The Hound of Heaven
8. Speak Tenderly to Jerusalem
9. Many a True Word
10. I Have No Need of You
Part 3: Be Not Afraid of Power
11. By What Authority?
12. But It Shall Not Be So with You
13. Giving with Your Head, Your Hand, and Your Heart
14. Is There a Gospel for the Rich?
15. The Education of Desire
Part 4: Be Not Afraid of Difference
16. You Are Not Your Own
17. Can We Talk?
18. Can We Still Call God "Father"?
19. Casualties of Destiny
20. The Three Realities of AIDS
21. He Is Our Peace
Part 5: Be Not Afraid of Faith
22. Time to Shed the Cloak
23. Born Again
24. What's Wrong with God
25. I Want to Know Christ
26. The Discipline of Joy
Part 6: Be Not Afraid of Life
27. One Day You Will Laugh
28. What Am I Going to Do with My Life?
29. Loving Yourself
30. A Criminal Waste
31. With Both Hands


"Sam Wells has given us good medicine in this book that both diagnoses the fears of our times and offers the remedy of the gospel. In these engaging and wise essays, Wells addresses not only our fear of death but also our fear of life in all its messy complexity. With a deft mix of storytelling, biblical interpretation, and theological reflection, Wells assiduously tells us the truth about the world--a truth we can face because the way beyond fear is not through denial but through patience, hope, and courage. This is a timely and much-needed book for a church tempted to make self-protection more important than discipleship."

Scott Bader-Saye, Helen and Everett H. Jones Professor of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology, Seminary of the Southwest

"A modern-day C. S. Lewis, Sam Wells draws us closer to God's story of eternal love in Be Not Afraid. At times bracing, at other times funny, his words plumb the dark depths of despair and offer hope without triviality, correction without cruelty. This book is a witty, vulnerable, challenging delight, a perfect bedtime companion in dark nights of the soul and a worthy friend when the lights come back on."

Lillian Daniel, coauthor of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers; contributing editor at Leadership

"In this book of reflections, Samuel Wells makes profound theological insight and artful language seem effortless. Each essay is a gem, the product of deep thought and the wordsmith's craft. This book is so directly addressed to the reader's heart and mind, so precisely on target about the fears that ensnare us, that Wells comes across not as a distant thinker but as a wise, understanding, and compassionate friend."

Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

"Be Not Afraid is a word for our time, delivered with the thoughtfulness of C. S. Lewis and the authenticity of Billy Graham. Sam Wells is a great gift to the church today. Listen to him."

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of New Monasticism

The Author

  1. Samuel Wells

    Samuel Wells

    Samuel Wells (PhD, University of Durham) is vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church at Trafalgar Square in London and visiting professor of Christian ethics at King's College. He previously served as dean of the chapel and research professor of...

    Continue reading about Samuel Wells


"A powerful antidote to the fear-based news and views so prevalent in our time. These short essays read like sermons--very good sermons--grounded in scripture and bringing to life some important insights and reminders about courage, authenticity and candor. . . . Wells writes from a heart-felt place of deep reflection that would invite even the most intractable soul to reconsider what it means to live in the world today as a person of faith. There are a thousand memorable statements in these essays, which will likely end up quoted in the sermons of others. . . . As a pastor deeply rooted in parish ministry, Wells sensitively speaks to people of all ages, those overwhelmed by fear and those who have simply not found the courage yet to plumb the depths of life fully lived. With humor, transparency, and delightful British aphorisms, Samuel Wells provides eloquent companionship for all of us who preach, teach, or simply live in the world hoping to find paths on life's journey that lead us to a loving and unshakably hopeful God."

Jennifer Burns Lewis,

Englewood Review of Books

"[This] is a book to dip into, with each article self-contained and worthy of a reflective response. Wells is a profound and imaginative interpreter of biblical texts and works hard to enable us to make a lively connection between word and action, head and heart. . . . Wells is a passionate and assured encourager, theologically insightful but reassuringly accessible as he constantly relates his belief to human experience and questioning. . . . It is a book with depth and with an evident pulse of theological energy and committed discipleship. Here, the Christian is not saved from the world but for the world. This makes the author's work full of potential and possibility with many threads to weave rather than tie up."

Mark Oakley,


"To the point, often stirs the conscience, and is sometimes profoundly wise. . . . What Wells gives his readers is wisdom drawn from the Bible and theological tradition. . . . My advice to readers is to take these essays one at a time and let them sink in. They are not the sort of pieces that demand, or even allow of, argumentative analysis--or, at least, not before their point has gone home. I got something from each. . . . There is much to value, not least in the biblical expositions, particularly of Old Testament stories."

Lionel Wickham,

Church Times

"Perhaps, just perhaps, this is the finest devotional book I will read this decade. And devotional is an inadequate descriptor for this remarkable book, in which we have deep and attentive readings of the biblical text, some rich theology, plenty of contemporary ethical connection, and some inspiring engagement with the challenge and journey of faith. . . . [Wells's] exegesis of both Testaments is outstanding. . . . He illustrates that he is both on top of contemporary scholarship and can apply the insights in a profound way. Any budding preacher who wants to learn how to read Scripture in a way faithful to the tradition and to modern scholarship should study his approach. . . . [This book] merits careful study and is an extraordinary achievement: a book that really can change one's life."

Ian Markham,

Living Church

"Wells has penned a theologically deep and emotionally rich account of how faith confronts fear. . . . Wells believes that the gospel of Christ and the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead penetrates our fears. Read it. And be not afraid."

Winn Collier,

Religious Herald

"A book to be savored, chewed, and slowly digested. It is a challenging and stimulating read that I cannot recommend highly enough. So many people in the world today are afraid, and we live in a society dominated and organized fear. This book is an antidote to such insularity and lack of faith in Jesus, picking up the oft-repeated refrain of the Bible to not be afraid. Wells suggests that we show our faith by how we respond to fear and how we show our love, and has written to help us respond better in both. . . . Wells is a master craftsman with words, and Be Not Afraid is worth reading simply to appreciate the rhetorical skill and literary artistry of the prose. . . . The message each of the thirty-one chapters brings also deserves deep and careful consideration. . . . [This book] takes you back to Scripture, forces you to think hard about how you understand the text, and in particular, the message of freedom from fear that runs through it. Anyone who has ever been afraid, anyone who wants help in thinking about what it means to be a Christian should read this book. It is an excellent resource and a worthwhile investment for any theological library."

Tom Wilson,


"[Wells] is one of best preachers around, with an amazing ability of opening up scripture, that both illuminates Old and New Testament, and addresses the listener, or in this case, the reader, in ways that challenge and encourage. . . . Wells addresses [a] wide range of topics that I would hazard a guess never get mentioned or tackled from the pulpit, but they are the everyday bits of living. . . . In each reflection Wells weaves story and scripture, question and application together that make him highly readable, but at the same time, the reading is seldom entirely comfortable. Read this book to become a better preacher. Read this book to inspire better sermons. Read this book to be challenged once again by the gospel."

Andy Goodliff,

Regent's Reviews