Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Devil in Pew Number Seven

The Devil in Pew Number Seven
by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

My first "borrowed" Nook book!

I felt a little pressured to read this book in a hurry because my understanding of "borrowing" electronic books is that they disappear after a set amount of time.  Perhaps I needn't have worried as this one seems to still hanging out on my Nook, although it's number is "0."

Somehow this book wasn't quite what I expected it to be and yet I don't know why I expected anything different.  A pious young man and his wife and children are invited to evangelize in Sellerstown, NC where they are then encouraged to stay and share their ministry through a church in need of a new minster.  They become beloved to their new community by all but their nearest neighbor who begins a campaign of terror to try to drive them out. 

Tactics to scare the Nichols out of town include bombing and dynamiting very near their home and shooting at the house, into the children's bedrooms under the cover of darkness.  FBI and ATF people are called in but are unable to stop the attacks. The Nichols family stays on as Mr. Nichols is willing to give his life for Jesus and not be run out of a town that supports him.

Not surprisingly, disaster does come to the Nichols family, although not from the source I expected. But the effect of the event is magnified even more by the years of mental torture the family had been under, making it even harder to bear and recover.

More than anything the message of this story is forgiveness.  The unwavering theme throughout was the ability of this family to forgive the horrible actions against them, and continue to pray for the man who perpetrated them.  The final chapter of the book became "preachy" to some extent, but still was necessary to explain why the author, Nichols daughter Rebecca, forgives as she does and continues to believe in a loving God. 

I found it hard to keep reading of the terror this family with it's young children were going through when they were so unwilling to leave.  I kept thinking of the story of the man sitting on the roof of his house during  flood.  A man came by in a canoe to rescue him, another in a motorboat, and a third in a helicopter.  To each he said, "No thank you, God will save me!"  He eventually was swept away in the flood and drowned. When he got to heaven and asked God why he didn't save him, God answered, "I sent you a canoe, a motorboat and a helicopter.  What more did you want?"  Likewise, could this family not have devised a way to minister to this community and done something more to ensure their own safety?

A very sad story, to be sure.

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