I would be glad if you could tell me shortly some more about yourself. How and why you became a pastor/author/ started EPM-ministries. Have you always been a Christian? What it is the most important task behind this ministry? (I have looked at the sites on www.epm.org, but I am interested in your priority.)
I was raised in a non-Christian home, and first heard the gospel when I was 15 years old. After reading the Bible daily over a period of months, I placed my faith in Christ in 1969. My life radically changed, and following Christ as my Lord was more important to me than anything. I read many books that helped me grow in my faith. I decided to attend Bible college and seminary and go into pastoral ministry.
My main mission in Eternal Perspective Ministries is to help people learn, as much as is possible, to live now with the perspective that will be ours one minute after we die. I often say that just as there will be no second chance for the unbeliever to go back and live his life over again, this time accepting Christ, so there will be no second chance for the believer to go back and live his life over again, this time serving Christ. Now is our window of opportunity. Now is our chance to follow Christ, speak the truth and reach out to the needy in love. Now is our chance to invest our lives in eternity.
Three of my favorite quotes reflect this emphasis. John Wesley said, “I value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity.” C. T. Studd said, “Only one life, it’ll soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
What has C. S. Lewis meant to you? (due to Lord Foulgrin’s Letters)
The writings of C. S. Lewis have had a profound effect on my thinking. When I was a young Christian I read his books, and I still read them today. The Screwtape Letters is the inspiration for Lord Foulgrin’s Letters. While there are significant differences between Lewis’s approach and my own, I give him full credit for the premise.
I quote Lewis in almost all of my books. I even work him into my novels. Lewis’s Mere Christianity plays a pivotal role in the story of my novel Deadline. In Dominion, the main character reads The Chronicles of Narnia to his children. In fact, Lewis himself is a character in Dominion, where he appears in heaven instructing and guiding someone who’s died. Edge of Eternity, Nick Seagrave’s pilgrimage into a world where the spiritual realms are visible, was partially inspired by the writings of C. S. Lewis. In fact, I’ve never written a book, fiction or nonfiction, in which I haven’t been influenced by him.
What was the background for writing Safely Home, was it that what happened to the Staines family or had your ministry worked with China-mission before that? Other reasons?
Since I was a young Christian I have had a burden for suffering Christians. Among the first Christian books I ever read were Richard Wurmbrand’s Tortured for Christ, Brother Andrew’s God’s Smuggler and Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, as well as Fox’s Book of Martyrs. I had never been to China until after I’d researched the book for six months. What I saw in China allowed me to more depict the settings and culture in Safely Home.
Our ministry has supported different missions works in China for years. All the royalties from Safely Home go to help persecuted Christians or spread the gospel in countries where Christians are persecuted. Jesus says, “Inasmuch as you’ve done it unto the least of these my brothers, so you have done it unto me.”
I had read the story of Graham Staines and his sons being burned to death in India, but it became very real to me when my wife and daughters had dinner with Gladys and Esther Staines, Graham’s wife and daughter. Their commitment to Christ and their eternal perspective concerning their loved ones was a great example, and it was a privilege to dedicate Safely Home to this wonderful family.
For a message Randy gave on this subject, see: Those of Whom the World is Not Worthy.
Do you have some advice to other Christian authors today?
I would encourage them to be bold, and to share the truths of Scripture without apology. Of course, we should also be gracious. Jesus came full of grace and truth, and we must be characterized by grace and truth in our personal lives and in our writing. This is the message of my book The Grace and Truth Paradox. We must remember that people are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person, and Heaven is the place. They need Jesus and they need Heaven. We should talk freely and opening about Jesus and His love for people, and His ultimate sacrifice on the cross to offer salvation to all who will repent and trust Him for salvation.