Over the years, my brother, John and I often talked about how we wish we could do something that would really make a difference. Being active in church, trying to be good Christians and committing the occasional random acts of kindness is a start but hardly life changing for others. What did either of us have to bring to the table that might point someone towards God?
I prayed about it a lot and I know John did too. And as it is so often God's style, He answered our prayer without us even realizing what He was doing until we found ourselves waist high in His business. The answer came in the form of our collaboration on what started out as one novel and quickly turned into an entire series of Christian fiction novels.
The first two books in the series are finished, but we have already roughly mapped out the remaining storyline which we estimate to be a minimum of six books. We leave it in God's hands to determine the direction and duration of the story. What we do know for certain is the content.
God is passionately pursuing each one of us. He loves us like no one else can, yet some believers keep Him at arm's length and as a result, He is not relatable. For some, God is more of a concept than a friend or a father. But He is both of those things and so much more.
God was flesh and blood and walked among us in the person of Jesus. He had friends, He laughed and felt sorrow. He yearned for companionship and love just like we do. Many see Jesus as the robed figure who stands on a hill or in a temple or someone's home, saying some profound things and then poof! He's gone only to appear in the next place to say more profound things. It's almost like turning pages in a picture book - Jesus standing here giving this sermon. Turn the page and Jesus is sitting with this group, teaching. Turn the page and it's another similar scene. There is nothing relatable when one pigeon-holes God in such a way, reducing Him to what is the equivalent of flash cards.
Think about it. When He wasn't in a boat, He was walking everywhere with His friends. They must have talked and laughed and shared thoughts and stories. They were together day and night for a long time as they went from place to place. Daily, they sat and ate together. Jesus wasn't just sitting and silently working on His next sermon. Nor would He have only spoken when He was teaching. He had a personality and I'm guessing it was a pretty great one too.
Do me a favor and think of the people you enjoy being around the most and what qualities they have that make you love being with them. Do you doubt for one moment that Jesus possessed such qualities? Jesus was real! And the fact that He is alive now means He still possess every quality a person could have to make them loveable and relatable. When it comes to positive attributes, Jesus leaves everyone else in the dust and the best of the best on this earth pale in comparison to Him. So all things considered, why wouldn't everyone want Him right next to them every second of every day?
This feeling is what we want to stir up in every reader of our books. We want to spark a romance between the unbeliever and God and rekindle that romance between the believer and their Savior. He never stops wooing us, but sometimes we are too busy or just too disconnected to appreciate His efforts. Perhaps witnessing the romance beginning between Him and someone else will remind us how it felt when we, as believers first fell in love with Jesus. In some cases, might it also prepare the unbelieving heart to fall in love with Him?
For all who read our books, we hope they enjoy a story where good and evil collide, the supernatural realm bleeds into our reality, believers do great things through unwavering faith and unbelievers witness the power of a God who loves them when they least deserve it. A God who will move heaven and earth to win their love.
We believe the story told in the series will appeal to people, no matter where they are spiritually. God put the story on our hearts as we wrote it. He'll give the reader whatever it is He wants them to take away from it. Our job is to get it out there for Him. This is our ministry.
Before I dared used the term, ministry, I looked it up. In Christianity, ministry is an activity carried out by Christians to express or spread their faith. Until someone outside all this referred to our "project" as our "ministry", we had not thought of it that way, but it fits. Many Christians have ministries that are carried out quite differently from ours. There are so many different ways to reach the people who need to be reached. We can't all be missionaries, worship leaders, preachers or teachers of theology. We believe God has entrusted us with a ministry tailor-made for our gifts and will place our offering in the hands of those who need it. We won't know who they are or if the story of The Last Rose will impact them right away or at all for that matter. For all we know, the reader might just enjoy the story and be entertained and that's great too. But what if that person unwittingly recommends the book to someone who is struggling with something and they are in turn impacted by the story? God is so amazing. Nothing is beyond His ability. He can certainly put together some elaborate circumstances to get to those He wants to reach. I know because I was one of those people. So with hundreds of copies of our books circulating out there some day, just one person benefiting in some way makes all of this worthwhile. The Last Rose series itself is an act of faith. Faith that God will take what we have created and use it for His glory. And if there is one thing we know about our God, it is that He is faithful.