The Helping Book


174 pages
ISBN 0-919532-00-4





Reviewed by Margaret Buttignol

Margaret Buttignol was a graduate student in sociology at the University of Toronto.


Written by John W. Friesen, Saskatchewan-born academic and clergyman, The Helping Book is about helping yourself (and hence others) deal with the burdens and problems that seem to be an intrinsic part of modern life for so many people. The author writes from his personal life experiences as a clergyman, father, husband, and caring human being. His style is never formidable or dogmatic but instead offers the reader light, enjoyable and down-to-earth reading. Contemporary anecdotes and current events and figures are frequently compared and contrasted to those of biblical times, “... Paul had a temper tantrum; Joshua blamed God for his inadequacy as a leader; Jehosaphat made a stupid vow, and Samson fell prey to a beguiling woman... The intelligent, law-professor turned Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, stunned the world by his marriage to a leftover flower child.” Scriptures and poems are used to illustrate modern-day experiences and to bring the words of the Bible to life.

The author stresses the vulnerability and frailty of man, devoting individual chapters to special categories of human beings in trouble: the guilty, the lonely, etc. The end of each chapter contains a series of practical steps that might be used to help people in each particular situation.

Friesen believes that when a person needs help that need is best fulfilled on a one-to-one basis, help with a personal touch that is rarely obtained through large-scale social service and counseling facilities. “The trouble is that when man cries, he cries as an individual — one person with a unique identity, and with problems he sees as entirely different from anyone else’s.” He believes that people in trouble can best be helped through the word of God or through the acts of a loving friend. This book would be appropriate for people working in the “helping” professions: doctors, nurses, teachers and counselors. “Loving one another is deeply helpful.”


Friesen, John W., “The Helping Book,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed September 30, 2023,