I am in a quandary. I don’t want to discourage anyone form reading this memoir, a true story that carries a wonderful message about the necessity of forgiveness, even in the direst of circumstances.
However, to be honest, the book could have been edited down to about half or three-fourths of its almost 300 pages and not have lost a thing. If you’re a good skimmer, you’ll really appreciate this story of a pastor and his family terrorized and very nearly destroyed by a man who acts like the devil incarnate. In 1969, Robert Nichols moved with his family to Sellerstown, North Carolina to serve as pastor of the Free Welcome Holiness Church. As the name of the church indicated, the Nichols family was welcomed by the community, except for one man, Mr. Horry James Watts, who lived across the street from the parsonage and occupied pew number seven in the Free Welcome Church every Sunday morning. The violence and harrassment began with threatening phone calls and escalated until . . . No spoilers here.
The amazing thing about the story is the ending. Could you forgive a man who threatened to make you family leave the community where you lived “crawling or walking, dead or alive?” The sction near the end of the book on forgiveness is worth the price of the book because the author speaks from hard-earned experience.
“If I allow myself to go down the pathway of rage and retaliation, several things happen, and none of them are good. Here are my top four:
My sins will not be forgiven by God if I refuse to forgive those who have sinned against me.
I miss an opportunity to show God’s love to an unforgiving world.
I’m the one who remains in jail when I withhold God’s grace by failing to forgive.
If I have trouble forgiving, it might be because I’m actually angry at God, not at the person who wronged me.”
So, I’m recommending this book with the caveat that you’re not to expect deathless prose, just a riveting and inspiring story of nitty-gritty forgiveness and even joy in very difficult circumstances.