Helen Steiner Rice: The Woman Behind the Poetry

Helen Steiner Rice

Get The Poems and Prayers of Helen Steiner Rice, which has nearly four hundred original poems—sixteen of them rare and previously uncollected—and one never-before-published prayer discovered in the Helen Steiner Rice Foundation archives.

Known for positivity and encouragement, Helen’s poetry has been an inspiration to thousands over the years.

As she faced hard times she sought and found God’s goodness and love, and she intentionally encouraged her friends, family, and ultimately the nation through her simple but beautiful poetry.

The woman behind the poetry:

Helen was passionate. Helen grew up in the early 1900’s and had big dreams. She aspired to attend college, fight for women’s rights, and even hoped to one day be a congresswomen.

Helen trusted God. During her senior year of high school her father grew sick and died. In the fall she put aside her ambitions of attending college, and she began working to help support her mom and sisters.

Helen remained faithful. Her circumstances were less than ideal, but she worked hard at her job and by the time she was in her early twenties she was named her company’s advertising manager and later took a position as a spokesperson to advocate for women consumers and women in the workplace.

Helen was motivated. After traveling the nation to speak, she decided to opened her own speaker’s bureau and was soon a popular motivational speaker.

Helen was human. At age 28 she fell in love with wealthy banker Franklin Rice and the two married.

Helen faced tragedy. A few months into their wedding the New York Stock Market crashed, Franklin’s bank soon closed, he lost his job and a lot of money. His financial situation drove him into a deep depression and after three years of struggling to find work, he committed suicide.

Helen used her gifts. She worked her way up in the greeting card industry and where she earned the nick name “Ambassador of Sunshine”. She wrote humorous poetry, poems to inspire, and Christmas rhymes. Her poems “The Priceless Gift of Christmas” and later “The Praying Hands” were featured on a popular TV show, and eventually “The Praying Hands” become one of the most popular greeting cards to be produced.


Get the largest, most complete collection of Helen Steiner Rice poems when you get The Poems and Prayers of Helen Steiner Rice today!


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Can Helping Someone Really Hurt Them?

Have you ever walked by a person in need on the street and you weren’t quite sure what to do?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had this inner-battle, and it goes something like this: I should give this person a dollar . . . or maybe not? They’ll probably just buy something bad with it, plus giving this person money is just teaching them to be dependent on me. But they look so hungry and Jesus wants me to feed the poor, right?

Can Helping Someone Hurt Them

In the end—no matter what I do—I feel a mixture of sadness for their condition and guilt for my lack of sympathy.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert look into how we, as Christians, are called to respond and interact with those in the trenches of poverty in their ebook, When Helping Hurts: How to Allevieate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself.

What first struck me about When Helping Hurts was the title . . . .

As a senior in high school, I had an interview for a Community Development scholarship at Covenant College. Lo and behold the interviewer was author Steve Corbett himself!

Before the interview a group of us met and listened to Corbett speak; he mentioned When Helping Hurts, saying oftentimes Christians mean well and they want to help, but if they are not intentional with their actions they’ll up hurting the person and their community as well.

I was hooked by Corbett’s speech. I wanted to know: could trying to help someone could really ever hurt them? The answer is simple, yes. 

Learn from Corbett and Fikkert as they dive deep into this issue and why it matters in their ebook, When Helping Hurts.

They begin by walking through incorrect assumptions the church has made about the causes of poverty. They show how these false assumptions have resulted in the use of bad strategies meant to help the poor, but end up doing considerable harm to not only poor people, but also themselves.

Corbett and Fikkert work through foundational concepts, clearly articulated principles, and relevant applications, making this ebook a must-read.

Want to learn more? Check out this book review by Ryan Nelson on a recent episode of Faithlife Today:

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Gaining by Losing: An Interview with J. D. Greear

Gaining by Losing

Tuesday J. D. Greear released his newest title, Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Church Belongs to Churches that Send. 

Vyrso got the inside scoop on why Greear wants big givers, key volunteers, some of the best leaders and friends in his church to leave . . . .

In the last few years, you have not only written multiple titles, but also maintained a blog, preaching career and grown The Summit Church substantially. What inspired you to write your latest release Gaining by Losing?  

I wrote Gaining By Losing because it is so easy for those of us in church leadership to focus on the wrong things when celebrating success. We only celebrate size. A large size is not bad, of course—we should be grateful when large numbers of people gather to hear our message like they did with Jesus.

But the promises Jesus gave about the greatness of the church related to sending, not gathering; through losing, not gaining.

The kingdom grows by the principle of the harvest—only what you give away can you really keep (John 12:24).

It’s taken me a while to really let that truth sink in. And the more I talk to other people in ministry, the more I realize that I’m not alone. Is it possible for us to be praying, “Thy kingdom come,” when what we mean in reality is, “My kingdom come?”

The true measure of success for a church shouldn’t be its seating capacity, but its sending capacity[Click to Tweet!]

Tell us more about the title Gaining by Losing.

Churches should be more excited about the people they lose than the ones they gain. When we raise up and send out leaders, we multiply the kingdom. It feels like loss, and it’s painful, but it is really gain.

Just as you can’t out-give God in your finances, you can’t out-give him with your leaders, either.

The more leaders we give away, the more leaders God raises up in their place. Again, it is the principle of the harvest: ministry surges when it gives, not when it hoards.

In Gaining by Losing, you confess to your original focus on filling the seats in your church and not growing the church by sending. When did you realize your focus was set on growing your kingdom instead of God’s kingdom?

It was embarrassing, but I remember it vividly.

One afternoon I was praying for massive revival in our city. In the midst of that prayer, it seemed as if the Spirit of God asked, “And what if I answer this prayer . . . and send a revival into Raleigh-Durham beyond all you’ve asked or imagined . . . one that they will talk about for hundreds of years. . . but I choose another church through which to do it? What if that church grows, and yours stays the same?”

I would love to say that my answer was an emphatic, “Yes, Lord! You must increase and I must decrease!”

But the answer that bubbled up from my heart was, “No.” 

Yes, I wanted to see the city reached, but I also wanted to see my church succeed, my kingdom enlarged, my name magnified. Somehow “thy kingdom come” had become all jumbled up with “my kingdom come.”

At that point, I knew that I needed to repent for my idolatry in ministry.

That afternoon marked a turning point in which, by God’s grace, the eyes of my heart began to shift to building God’s kingdom instead of my own.

What is the biggest challenge to being a “sending church”?

I am.

“Sending” preaches well, but it can be painful when it’s really executed. [Click to Tweet!]

I remember sitting at a table with our four church-planters-in-residence for the year, listening to them give their final report before being sent out from our church. We had given them a head-hunting license, and they had recruited 150 of our active members to go with them. I knew I was supposed to be excited, and I was . . . but I was also feeling a bit of panic.

Their lists included big givers, key volunteers, and leaders—even members of our pastoral team. Leaders whose absence would leave significant gaps.

As I listened to those four leaders give their reports, I put my hands under the table and literally forced them open to God. Opened in surrender. Open in the belief that God builds his kingdom as we let go, not as we hold on.

Tell us more about the myth of a calling, and what a new mindset around calling can mean for believers.

In the church I grew up in, “missionary” was a sacred and scary title, bestowed only upon the spiritual elite, the Navy Seals of the Christian world. We considered them heroes, sat in awe through their slideshows, and gladly donated our money to their ministries.

It was years later that I first realized that every Christian was a missionary, that all Christians were called to leverage their lives and talents for the kingdom.

God’s calling into mission is not a separate call we receive years after our salvation; it is inherent in the very call to salvation. Every believer is given a spiritual gift and a role to play in the spread of the Great Commission. [Click to Tweet!]


Read more insights from Greear and dig into why it’s so essential for the church to send out leaders in Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Church Belongs to Churches that Send! This new release will inspire and challenge you to reorient your church’s priorities around God’s mission to reach a lost world. 


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How a Jewish Historian and King Henry VIII’s Love Life Affected the Church  

As the Christian church continues to grow, it’s important to look back at the people and events that have had a lasting impact on the church today.

Two people you may not have learned much about in Sunday School, but have unquestionably made an impact on the church, are Josephus, the Jewish Historian, and King Henry VIII, the King of England.

The Jewish Historian

Josephus was not a Christian and although he was Jewish, he was seen to be a traitor by most Jews. He was born wealthy and well-educated, and eventually Josephus became a commander of Jewish fighters. He survived many lost fights and saw over fifty thousand Jewish men and women, including his wife and parents, die.  Eventually he and a few Jewish men were trapped in a cave by Roman soldiers, here he betrayed his heritage and left the cave a servant of Rome and traitor to the Jews. In his final years he wrote three historical works, Antiquities of the Jews, War of the Jews, and Against Apion. Through his records the church today finds understanding of what life was like in the for first-century Jews and Romans. Alton Gansky writes in 60 People Who Shaped the Church: Learning from Sinners, Saints, Rogues“Taken as a whole, his writings have benefited the church by painting the backdrop of the life and times of first-century Jews and Romans.”

Kenneth Curtis, J. Stephen Lang, and Randy Peterson even provide an example of the understanding we gain from Josephus in The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History. Here’s what they have to say: “Jewish historian Josephus said that Titus wanted to preserve the Temple, but his soldiers were so angry at their resilient opponents that they burned it.” They go on to explain what this meant, that when the Temple was destroyed, even though unintentional, it had a lasting effect on Christianity. Now “the Christians could no longer rely on the empire’s protection of Judaism. There was nowhere to hide from Roman persecution.” They were forced out of Jerusalem and into the world.

King Henry VIII’s Love Life
King Henry VIII

In 1534, King Henry VIII decided to take drastic measures and split from the Roman Church. But this wasn’t for doctrinal reform, rather it was because he longed for a divorce from his wife. Convinced his wife would never bare him a son and in love with another woman, he decided to part with the Roman Church when the Roman Church refused to let him part from his current wife. Here’s what Gansky has to say about it:

“Henry VIII shaped the church with a wedge, splitting the English church from the Roman Church. Ironically, he had no dispute with Roman Catholic doctrine, unlike the Protestants of the Reformation movement. Yet the pope and the inconvenience of Roman Church politics stood in the way of his desires.”

King Henry VIII may not have split because he wanted reform, but once he broke from the Roman Church this gave Reformers the perfect foothold to encourage change. Curtis, Lang, and Peterson all agree that this split as a huge moment, “Once broken from the pope, the Church of England remained separate. Succeeding waves of Reformation in England were rapid and tumultuous.”


Learn more about the people and events that have influenced the church through the ages in Alton Gansky’s 60 People Who Shaped the Church: Learning from Sinners, Saints, Rogues and Kenneth Curtis’, J. Stephen Lang’s, and Randy Peterson’s The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History.

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Enter to Win an iPad mini, Logos 6 Gold, and 5 Ebooks!

Good or God Giveaway

Through November 19, enter to win an iPad mini, Logos 6 Gold, and five ebooks from John and Lisa Bevere!

John Bevere and his wife Lisa are the founders of Messenger International, an organization established to help individuals, families, churches, and nations realize and experience the transforming power of God’s Word.

A minister and best-selling author, John delivers messages of uncompromising truth with boldness and passion. In John’s latest ebook, Good or God, John invites readers to engage with God on a new level:

“These days the terms good and God seem synonymous. We believe what’s generally accepted as good must be in line with God’s will. Generosity, humility, justice―good. Selfishness, arrogance, cruelty―evil. The distinction seems pretty straightforward. But is that all there is to it? If good is so obvious, why does the Bible say that we need discernment to recognize it? Good or God? isn’t another self-help message. This book will do more than ask you to change your behavior. It will empower you to engage with God on a level that will change every aspect of your life.” —John Bevere

August 2-January 22, they’re on tour spreading this message across the country. Check out their tour stops today!

To commemorate John Bevere’s new ebook and tour, we’re giving away an iPad mini, Logos 6 Gold, and five of John’s ebooks, including:

You’ll be able to read these ebooks with the free Vyrso app for iOS and Android, include them in your Bible study while using Logos 6 on your new iPad mini, or read online at Biblia.com.

Don’t miss out! Enter to win today:

Win an iPad mini, Logos 6 Gold, and 5 books!

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An Excerpt from Beat God to the Punch by Eric Mason

Beat God to the Punch

Check out this excerpt from Beat God to the Punch:Because Jesus Demands Your Life by Eric Mason.

Beat God to the Punch discusses the importance of God’s call of discipleship to every person, and challenges readers to take a posture of submission to the gospel.  This piece is written for anyone who has ever asked, “What does it mean to follow Jesus?” Believers and unbelievers alike will find both comfort and challenge on the pages of Mason’s work.

Read this excerpt from Beat God to the Punch, as Mason discusses lessons he has learned from walking in the Spirit.

Thru It All . . .

As a pastor in the inner city, it seems as if all seasons are lean. Ministering in a broken context and being broken yourself can lead to despair. I walk over trash, homeless people, liquor bottles and beer cans, boarded-up homes, thugs, Muslims, drug strips, and hopelessness every day as I go to work at our church facility. Most days I have to pray my way to the building. For some people, this type of challenge would seem to motivate them, but if I’m honest, I find myself wrestling. The only thing that makes sense out of moving my family here for ministry is the Holy Spirit giving me satisfaction with Him, and the affirmation of my calling here seen in the transformation that the gospel is bringing to the lives of our people. As the Spirit of Grace does His work in my heart and soul, I walk those streets with the dignity of the gospel because He uses the environment to help me learn where I am really finding my satisfaction. Over time, I am learning to submit to the Lordship of the Spirit in this matter. As this happens, I am bowing in satisfaction to the Lord as I am shown that goodness is stalking me. All of us have that as a blessed assurance.

Mercy is a beast of a term. It is that same Hebrew term of God’s hesed. We could translate it as His loyal-love. As we have already seen, hesed points to God’s relationship with the people or an individual, faithfulness, goodness, graciousness, kindness, loving-kindness, unfailing kindness, devotion, i.e., a love or affection that is steadfast based on a prior relationship. Our understanding of grace flows from this term. God’s unmerited favor toward us comes from His loyalty to place His affections upon us and keep them there. That is one of the reasons that Paul prays that the Ephesian church would know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19).

We need these assurances of grace. The reason being is that life is filled with challenging valleys that need the throttle of goodness and mercy to get through. Just because we have these assurances doesn’t mean that the enemy of God falls back. It is possible for us to ignore goodness and mercy in the hard times of life. The psalmist wants us to be aware of the fact that no matter what we go through, we are being stalked by the mercy and goodness of God. Yet, the Bible also says that someone else’s character stalks us—that is Satan. Satan and God’s goodness and mercy don’t coexist per se, but we have to choose to whose reign we will submit. Sinclair Ferguson states,

“As soon as we come to Christ, we find ourselves in territory that is full of hidden mines—sinister explosive devices planted by malignant a hand in an attempt to destroy our Christian faith. Of course, Satan can attack but never ultimately destroy true Christian faith, because we are preserved by grace. Therefore, he seeks to destroy our enjoyment of the grace of God. In this, sadly, he frequently succeeds.”

There is a need for us to draw on the grace of God from the Spirit of God through goodness and mercy. As we experience God granting us strength throughout the differing seasons of our lives, we grow in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The old school translation says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4 KJV). I like the fact that we don’t pitch a tent in our problems, but the grace of God aids us in moving through our valleys [click to tweet!]. We were never meant to allow valleys to cause stagnancy, but we can thrive in our walk with Jesus Christ even through the most challenging of circumstances. Whether trials last a season or a lifetime, full deliverance will not come until we are with the Lord. Until then, all of our travels will have varying levels of turbulence.


Get Beat God to the Punch by Eric Mason today!

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Tutorial: Scrolling Options in Your Vyrso App

Vyrso App

The Vyrso app is a great way to read on the go—it can house thousands of ebooks, perfect for storing your digital library. Originally it was designed to read just like a book—instead of scrolling vertically like an online article, you simply swipe the screen horizontally like you’re turning the page.

Although many enjoy swipe navigation, others prefer scrolling to navigate. And with the Vyrso app you can do whichever one you prefer. Vyrso’s settings will let you choose between swipe and vertical-scrolling options.

You can access this feature and try it right now in your app!


How to switch to vertical scrolling:

Your app defaults to swipe navigation when you first download your Vyrso app, but it’s easy to make the switch to vertical scrolling.

On iOS:

1. Open any resource in your Logos app.
2. Tap the screen once to bring up your options.
3. Tap the “Aa” symbol in your toolbar.
4. Tap the option for “Scrolling View.”

On Android:

1. Open the settings menu.
2. Check “Scroll View.”

The vertical scrolling option is also available in the Logos Bible App, Faithlife Study Bible app, the Noet app, and the Verbum app—which are all free in your app store of choice!

Get the free Vyrso app today, and you’ll find the joys of Christian ereading right at your fingertips.

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Big Hurts, Bitterness, and the Path to Forgiveness: An Interview with Sara Horn

Proverbs 10: 12

Today we are sharing the second part of our interview with Sara Horn. Read the first part of her interview on Faithlife Women!

Sara Horn is the author of  How Can I Possibly Forgive? Rescuing Your Heart from Resentment and Regret. Get it today!

In your ebook, How Can I Possibly Forgive?, you talk about your original desire to avoid conflict by focusing on success and less on the people you worked with. How have you worked to shift your focus? What inspired you to do so?

People are messy! Relationships can have drama!

I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel that way some days. For a long time, especially in my twenties, my way to avoid conflict or drama or the “messy” parts of life was to focus more on accomplishments than relationships. I mistakenly took it as a badge of honor when friends always started their phone calls to me with the words “I know you’re busy but . . . .”

If I was too busy to be bothered with relationships, than I would never have time to be bothered with fixing relationships.

But as I started really digging into what the Bible says, I realized that Jesus never put work ahead of people. His work included people. Messy ones, sinful ones, hurting ones. [Click to Tweet!] Learning this hasn’t happened overnight, but as I’ve slowly tried to view people the way Jesus does, starting with my family, I’ve moved from always putting work first to putting people first.

How would you define “big hurts” and bitterness? 

Big hurts are painful disappointments, betrayals of trust, a realization that a friendship or a marriage or a relationship isn’t what you thought it was. We can experience deep wounds. We can also experience small cuts—someone repeatedly puts us down or breaks their promises or talks about us behind our backs— that, if received over and over, can feel the same as a deep wound.

Bitterness grows when our cuts refuse to heal and an infection of unforgiveness and resentment spreads.

What are ways we can free ourselves of bitter feelings?

I’ve found in my own life that to work free from bitterness, I have to first give myself permission that it will take time but it’s important to refuse to hold on to the hurt and let forgive. Expecting to work through forgiveness overnight isn’t realistic. Can God work in someone’s heart and completely wipe away hurt so she feels only peace? Yes, absolutely. But that doesn’t happen on our own.

Hurts often remind us of loss—so it’s important to focus on what we have. Adjusting our perspective to remember everything we’ve been given versus what’s been taken away can sometimes help us realize that we are more okay than our feelings might want us to think in the moment.

When we choose to forgive, we let go of something negative so it’s important we fill that space with something positive.

Often it’s easy to recognize what went wrong, but what are practical ways on how we can look forward recognize what needs to happen?

Forgiveness doesn’t happen by accident but with intention. [Click to Tweet!That means you may not have planned for the hurt in your life to happen but you need to make a plan to let go of it and move on.

This starts with addressing how you’ve been hurt and what you can do about it. If someone else has hurt you, the most straight-forward way to move past it is to address it with the person guilty of the hurt. Write out what you want to say; practice saying it. Avoid making it personal towards the other person but keep it personal to you. Instead of saying “You were a horrible human being for doing what you did to me,” say “I was deeply hurt when you did what you did” and explain why you were hurt.

If the person who hurt you is unwilling or unable to talk or apologize, you still need to let go of the bitter feelings you hold onto. Focus on what you have learned from the conflict—are you stronger? Are you more understanding of others who have been in the same situation? Are you now able to offer encouragement to someone else who has gone through the same thing?

Saying sorry can be difficult, what are some milestones you have had to overcome in admitting you were in the wrong?

Well, first, I’ve had to be willing to admit I was wrong! That’s hard! We don’t like to think of ourselves as capable of doing wrong—it’s much easier to look at someone else and all of their flaws and mistakes.

Admitting that you’ve made a mistake—like the time I passive-aggressively unloaded on Facebook about a situation involving a nameless friend instead of going directly to her to deal with it—is a humbling experience but important for your relationships with friends and family as well as your relationship with God. Because we are going to do wrong things. When we refuse to apologize, even for our part in something we think is someone else’s fault, we’ll also find it difficult to truly forgive someone else when they apologize.

Often we are hardest on ourselves and our own mistakes. What are the best ways we can work towards self-forgiveness?

I think we have to remember that God gives us second chances when we acknowledge our wrongs, and we have to give ourselves second chances as well. As my mother likes to remind me often, I am my own worst critic. I can have three things go well but the fourth thing that I didn’t do as well, or messed up or disappointed myself or someone else will stay with me for days.

God didn’t create us to be perfect, He created us to be available. [Click to Tweet!Recognize that with each failure, we can learn and grow. And then be intentional about it.

How can we overcome angry feelings with God’s love?

When life brings overwhelming disappointment—the death of a loved one, the death of a dream, the death of something we held dear—it’s tempting to point our finger at God and accuse him of no longer loving us, of no longer caring for us. But what we have to remember is that this life ISN’T about us.

Look to the two most important commandments that Jesus gives us: “. . .Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31.)

It takes faith to believe and trust God has our best in mind. But I can believe that and I can trust God with my life when I hold onto his truth like we find in Romans 8:28 —“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” We live to fit with God’s purpose, God does not exist to simply fulfill our own idea of purpose.

Tell God when you’re disappointed (it’s okay—he already knows anyway!). But instead of putting up angry walls, ask God to help give you clarity and understanding. Ask him to help you move on from the anger and frustration and disappointment you feel, and replace those feelings with joy.

Paul probably stated it best when he talked in Philippians about the contentment he knew in living for Christ instead of himself. “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).


To learn more get Sara Horn’s How Can I Possibly Forgive? today!


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Empire’s End: An Interview with Jerry Jenkins

Empire's End

 Recently we were able to interview Jerry B. Jenkins, American novelist and biographer, best known as co-author of the Left Behind series with Tim LaHaye. Jenkins has written over 185 books, including romance novels, mysteries, and children’s adventures, as well as non-fiction. 

Jenkins’ latest release, Empire’s End is a novel telling the story of the apostle Paul from a first person narrative. In this fictional account, Paul, a devout Jewish scholar, emerges as the greatest Christian theologian in history.

Get Empire’s End today as Jenkins brings to life the Roman Empire and Biblical world through the eyes of Paul.

You have an impressive resume of accomplishments from co-authoring the best-selling Left Behind series to writing over 185 books in a variety of genres over the past 40 years. What drives you to continue to produce more content?

Had my goal been to become a successful writer, I suppose I could have quit a long time ago, and certainly after the triumph of the Left Behind series. But my goal has always been to obey my calling, and the only way to succeed at that is to continue to obey.

Tell us about your new release Empire’s End, was there anything that inspired you to write this novel?

I’ve long been intrigued by Paul as one of the most zealous and convicting personalities in the Bible. I had written fiction based on the gospels in The Jesus Chronicles (Matthew’s Story, Mark’s Story, Luke’s Story, and John’s Story) and Paul was the next logical place to go.

For a writer, working with an author whose work has stood the test of two millennia was an intimidating prospect. And thrilling. I teach writers to never let the Scripture become a mere text book [Click to Tweet!], and believe me, the writings of Paul can never become that. The majesty of his words lifted me out of my chair daily.

Empire’s End is set in Biblical times, what kind of research did you have to do in order to ensure that the historical setting was as accurate as possible?

The Scriptures themselves are the main source, but fortunately I also have access to countless commentaries and Bible dictionaries, as well as detailed texts on manners and customs of Bible lands and times.

As you brought Paul to life, we get to see beyond the pages of the biblical letters and into his heart, what was it like envisioning Paul and seeing through his eyes as you wrote?

Very convicting. Here was a man devoted to God even before he became a believer in Christ. He sincerely believed he was doing God’s will when he railed against the people of The Way, the Nazarenes he was convinced were worshipping a cursed martyr because He had been hung on a tree. Then, when Paul was forced to face the fact that he had been wrong, that Jesus was alive and had assigned him to be His messenger to not only the Jews but even the reviled Gentiles, Paul became the most zealous missionary ever.

Here was a man who proved every day that he meant it when he said that for him “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He was stoned and left for dead, flogged, imprisoned, shipwrecked thrice, snake bit, tried, sentenced, and finally beheaded, but never once flagged in his determination to preach Christ and Him crucified.

Did you ever find it hard to identify with him?

Daily. Whose life holds a candle to such an example of devotion?

Can you shed light on the character of Taryn and her influence on Paul?

In the end Paul was not free to take her with him on his missionary journeys, despite that she was willing. I believe that could have been his thorn in the flesh—a longing to enjoy what others have, the privilege to love and be loved. And in my fictional construct, she went beyond beauty and virtue to bestow divine forgiveness, which put her on a plane that only endeared her to him all the more.

How do you see Empire’s End influencing and challenging your readers?

I believe in our culture we are getting only a glimpse of persecution—and even that is from our brothers and sisters overseas. We “suffer” when we are ridiculed or laughed at or scorned or marginalized. Paul faced the threat of death everyday and used it as fuel.  There is much to learn from his example. [Click to Tweet!]


Don’t miss out on a great read, get best-selling author Jerry Jenkins’s novel Empire’s End today!

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In Our Backyard: An Interview with Nita Belles

In Our Backyard

Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing author Nita Belles about her newest release, In Our Backyard. Currently she serves as the Managing Director of the non-profit In Our Backyard and the Regional Director for Central Oregonians against Trafficking Humans (OATH). A former Associate Pastor, she holds a Master’s Degree in Theology with a concentration in Women’s Concerns. 

Add In Our Backyard to your library today! You’ll get an ebook that is dedicated to raising awareness on human trafficking and it’s effects.    

Tell us more about your new release, In Our Backyard. What was your main inspiration behind writing it?

I felt there was a need for an easy-to-read book that tackled the horrific, but hushed facts about both labor and sex trafficking.

Some of my biggest inspiration was and continues to be notes and emails from those who have been informed by the book and are now doing something to stop human trafficking. Even more than that, I am overwhelmingly inspired by the notes and emails from survivors and/or their families who have read In Our Backyard and are receiving services and getting their lives back. I said when I started this, “If I could only help one person. . .” and I’m filled with enormous praise for a God who continues to multiply that number.

The book includes many stories of labor and sex trafficking victims, both children and adults. I tell stories of what it’s like to be a victim of these crimes, as well as stories of being a perpetrator—how the drive for more money and power feeds and increases that monster within. Woven throughout the stories are statistics and facts about human traffickingand ideas of ways that anyone can become involved in this fight. There are study questions at the end of each chapter to facilitate small groups who want to learn together.

What are some experiences that you have had in the field when trying to find and help set free victims of human trafficking?

Victims are often traumatically bonded to their captor, a condition commonly known as Stockholm syndrome. Often times I get word that someone wants out of the life, or has escaped, only to find that by the time someone arrives to help them, they have gone back to their trafficker.

The most rewarding moments are seeing survivors begin to come alive after they have been recovered. After her escape, one survivor was taken to a beautiful shelter. I stayed with her all day while she recanted her horrific story to multiple law enforcement personnel. As I was leaving the shelter that evening, she grabbed my arm. She said to me words I will never forget, “Today I am free. I am no longer a prisoner.” After living as a prisoner, locking herself inside closets so she wouldn’t be sexually assaulted in the middle of the night, she now lives free and happy. She sees her family, works full time, has her own home and is a valuable asset to her community. She is happy and free to love, to laugh, to worship regularly at her church. She is a beautiful example of a person coming alive.

Does your definition of human trafficking differ from how the public typically understands it? If so, what is your definition and what are the main differences?

The public rarely thinks of labor trafficking when human trafficking is mentioned, but labor trafficking is rampant in our country. It happens in restaurants, nail salons, farming, in people’s homes as maids/nannies, factories, really, any place that labor occurs could be an opportunity for a human trafficker to exploit someone. Typically, but not always, labor trafficking victims are foreign-born nationals.

Sex trafficking is often thought of as Asian women brought over in containers and kept in massage parlors. While that does happen, the large majority of sex-trafficking victims in the United States are American born [Click to Tweet!]. Once they are in “the life” it is very difficult to get out.

This world is real. While all trafficking stories share some similarities, here is no “ordinary” way that people are trafficked.

Many conversations about human trafficking focus on what happens in other countries, yet you emphasize that it is happening in the United States, literally “in our backyard.” How does trafficking in the U.S. differ from that in other countries? 

In some foreign countries, human trafficking is a part of their accepted culture to the point that there are laws that protect it. In the United States it is a part of our culture, but in more subtle ways.

In foreign countries it’s not uncommon for a person to go to a corner cop and ask them where they can buy sex. Here in the United States, for the most part, our law enforcement and other government do everything they can to enforce laws. Now we just need to continue to improve those laws, improve training and awareness about human trafficking for law enforcement, and provide better and more services for those who are getting free from this atrocity.

What are the best ways we can educate ourselves and our loved ones about the dangers of modern-day slavery?

My first suggestion must be to read In Our Backyard.  I compiled the best information I know in the book.

Second, talk about it! All the traffickers ask is that we remain silent about this, or pretend it doesn’t happen. We must not do either of those things. Go ahead and organize a community or church event. Bring in a speaker and then have opportunities at the end of the event for people to get involved in some way.

Awareness of the warning signs is the best prevention for our loved ones. [Click to Tweet!]


Keep yourself informed and get In Our Backyard today!   

 For more information on Nita Belles and her work, please visit www.inourbackyard365.org

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