God Redeems the Former Things: A True Story from Author Francine Rivers
Many Christian fiction readers are familiar with Francine Rivers. Her books are exceptionally powerful, well-written, and always Christ-honoring. Redeeming Love is probably her best known, but my own favorite is The Atonement Child. In my opinion, she is one of the finest writers of Christian fiction in the world.
Francine (who her friends know as Frani) and her husband Rick are committed followers of Jesus, and a delight. (Nanci and I stayed in their home some years ago.) When I was working on my book Giving Is the Good Life, I asked Frani to share about Redeeming Love, which she wrote more than twenty-five years ago. She is a humble person and not one to seek attention or make public statements. But with her permission, I’m sharing this encouraging and beautiful story:
Redeeming Love was the first book I wrote as a Christian. I’d been reared in the church, and had head-knowledge, but I didn’t make the decision to turn my will and my life over to Jesus until 1986 when I was in my late 30s.
A wilderness experience quickly followed. Up until then, I had a successful career in the general market writing steamy historical romances, but after becoming a Christian, I couldn’t write anything. It was a monumental struggle for me because writing was the one area of my life where I thought I had “control.” It took three years for me to receive the lesson God was teaching me: writing had become an idol. My relationship with Jesus became the most important thing in my life. Writing didn’t matter anymore.
Rick and I were hosting a home study when God started nudging me about writing again. We were studying the minor prophets, specifically the book of Hosea. I felt all the inner walls coming down and sensed God telling me, “This is the love story I want you to write. MY story.” Redeeming Love was the result.
…The Lord has blessed this book over the years. It is used in numerous ministries that work with women in crisis, survivors of sex trafficking, outreaches to prostitutes, and even in marriage counseling ministries.
At the same time we were hosting the home group, I was doing other studies on the Christian life. Larry Burkett’s Debt-Free Living changed my way of thinking about money. Every gift is from above. Those gifts don’t belong to me. I’m to be a proper steward. Rick and I discussed it and realized early on that Redeeming Love was my first fruits as a Christian writer. Hence, whatever royalties came from the book belonged to the Lord, not to us.
We set aside the share Uncle Sam required, but the rest went to the Lord's work. It was an act of obedience in the beginning, but very quickly became a joyful offering. We tithe from everything we receive, but Redeeming Love was set aside entirely for God. Rick and I both believe that God gives so that we may give. He gives us the heart to do so and the joy in the giving as well. (We’ve kept this quiet for many years, only telling a few and under specific circumstances—when we felt it would service a purpose or encourage someone.)
…The main point: We try to steer the money to ministries that reach women (and men) like Angel (the primary character of Redeeming Love)—wounded, lost, in desperate need of a Savior and Lord.
…The book has been a bestseller in several foreign countries and continues to sell overseas as well as in the U.S. What I delight in most: it has been translated into Chinese, Russian, and Arabic. The latter makes me smile. A missionary friend said he saw it in a home in Siberia! God can use anything, even a fictional story, to reach into the hearts of His children—no matter where they are. It is amazing that He allows us to be a part of His great work.
…What's the old saying? You can’t out give God! Oh, how true that is.
Randy again: More than one million copies of Redeeming Love have been sold (in fact, just this month it was number two on the Christian fiction bestsellers list!). Not only have many people benefited from reading Francine’s book, but untold numbers have also been helped through its royalties.
This story of Redeeming Love’s impact is one that only God could write! It reminds me that shortly after we committed 100% of the royalties of my books to be given to Christian ministries, several of them started appearing on the bestsellers’ list. That’s not a formula, and it’s not that God always does it that way. But as Francine and I have experienced first-hand, countless others in a wide variety of vocations have discovered that when they dedicate their profits to God, He often blesses them materially. The more they give back to the Lord the more He blesses them. If that’s been your own story, please share it with me and others on my Facebook page.