Through Darkness Shining
I met Steven Allen Young while he was still one of the homeless in Nashville. He had spent 8 years in prison, 5 years on the streets, and nearly 40 years apart from his first wife. Things were dark. Very dark.
And I do love a story with dark edges.
Within a year of meeting Steven, I found out he was no longer living on the streets and had started a ministry to the homeless. He doesn't just seek out those on the corners, but also those under train tracks, behind vacant lots, and in overgrown greenways--many of whom you pass every day without knowing it. These are the ones who have often lost hope. Steven and his team take them practical supplies as well as care and concern as fellow human beings.
Which is fantastic!
And I do also love a story with light at the center.
Five years after meeting Steven, he and I started working on a book together, titled From Chains to Change. It was my 19th book, and it recounts his troubled childhood and his choices which took him down many a dark road. He owns up to each one of those choices, and he is a better man for having done so. In the process, he and his first wife reconnected and remarried. They are now well into a new life together, a truly amazing story!
If there is one book which captures all of what I love about writing, it is this. It has darkness--a lot of it--and ends with lots of light as well, though never in a sappy way. There is no penultimate come-to-Jesus moment. It is a story still unfolding, and it is the perfect combination of my storytelling skills, allowing me to crawl into another character's skin and speak. Even Steven's wife couldn't tell where my writing and Steven's interviews with me overlapped. It was a tough journey artistically, spiritually, and emotionally.
It was also one of the most rewarding of my life.
If you haven't read this book, then I wonder if you are a true fan of my writing. This is me at my best--and worst. Me at my brightest--and darkest. From Chains to Change is the type of book which defines me as a writer and as a person committed to using my talents for God's glory.
Go read it. Laugh, cry, get angry, gasp, fall to your knees.
I did all of the above while capturing it on paper.