Note from Lillie: I interviewed Ben Ferguson about his work with Adopt-A-Chaplain four years ago. I failed to post about his book when it came out last year. To make up for that oversight, I’ve invited Ben to share the story of his book. Here is the first installment; Part 2 will appear next week.
THE BACK STORY
Behind every book is a story explaining why authors subject themselves to the rigors of getting their thoughts on paper and ultimately in print.
The backstory for this book begins in 1966 when I graduated from Dallas Seminary with a Master of Theology degree, all the answers, and very few questions! Soon after arriving at my first church I discovered seminary answers weren’t answering the practical questions people were asking, so I began a journey learning to apply Biblical truth and principles to the problems people face every day. Lessons this young pastor and his congregation learned together form the framework for writing.
A PRINCIPLED APPROACH
Dr. Mouat, one of my college speech professors, observed, “The mind can only comprehend what the seat can stand.” As I begin my research I discovered authors devoted an entire volume to solve a problem for everyone, but by the end of the book I was left with information overload and still searching for an answer that worked for me.
Alexandra Trenfor said, “The best teachers are those who tell you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” I may not be the best teacher, but I agree it’s better to tell people where to look for answers rather than to give my answers. Simple is better, so each chapter of the book can be read in one sitting and addresses one problem, providing a resource that engages the reader in a process of discovery and finding the solution that works for them. If you’re looking for a book to solve problems for you, this book isn’t it, but if you want a guide for solving your problems, this is for you. Each chapter:
- Defines a problem,
- Describes and illustrates how it looks, smells, and feels in daily life,
- Outlines Biblical principles or tools to use in addressing the problem, and,
- Leaves a plan of action to follow as we wrestle with daily problems.
A TITLE THAT WORKS
Choosing the title for a book is almost as important as the writing. A good title catches a potential reader’s attention, inviting them to pick it up for a look, and gives some insight into what a reader will find inside. A brief look inside this book lets a reader know it’s not about growing tomatoes but about God’s answers to life’s problems.
After relating a particularly difficult problem he was facing, a man asked: “Does God have an answer for me?” Over the next several months we explored his question together and discovered God did have an answer for his problem. You may not have verbalized the question like that, but I’ve discovered it’s just beneath the surface when problems invite themselves into our life, so God, I’ve Got a Problem seems the logical choice.
The first edition made it into print in 1974 and had a good run, staying in print for twenty years. When it went out of print, I gave no thought to engaging in the process or rewriting and updating the book until 2005 after God led three men to begin Adopt-a-Chaplain, a ministry to chaplains deployed in combat zones.
Be sure to return next week for Part 2 of Ben’s story.