From time to time I’ve mentioned my desire to write someone’s true story. Authors Cec Murphey (90 Minutes in Heaven) and Lynn Vincent (Same Kind of Different as Me) are examples who have done well working with someone who has a great story, but who is not a writer.
I’ve actually had the privilege of doing this once so far and it was one of the best writing experiences I’ve had. I’m reminded of this because the subject of the book, Tom Whitney, is a Facebook friend and we’ve been more in touch with each other in the past year than in the dozen or so years since his book Honk If You Love Jesus: A Walking Odyssey Through California in the Name of Christ was published.
Tom spent many years as an alcoholic. He was abusive, destructive, and out of control. Then he dramatically came to Christ at age 53 and prayed “God, how can I be of service to you?” The answer wasn’t what Tom expected. He felt God told him to walk the length of the state of California to be a witness to what He had done in Tom’s life. Tom obeyed that directive and began at the Oregon-California border and for the next eight months embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. Honk If You Love Jesus is the story of Tom’s conversion and that walk.
It helps when a writer is himself interested in the person and the story he’s trying to write. For me, listening to Tom relate his adventure was motivating. I could envision many of the places he was telling me about and his way of describing the people he met made me feel like I knew them as well. To me, Tom’s time with the Homeless Church in San Francisco was the most moving part of his story. That’s where his encounter with a young 19-year-old boy named Wade took place. It was a divine appointment for Tom—one of many on this trip—and the memory of that encounter has stuck with me all these years.
The truth is I loved helping Tom write his story. It was like an invitation from God to be part of something very special. Tom’s book has gone into the hands of many people. I look now at used copies on Amazon and see that it’s in Georgia, Florida, and other places far from California. I believe Tom’s story has reached more people than even he realizes. He won’t know the full effect of his obedience to God until he reaches heaven.
All that to say, I hope someday I have another opportunity to tell someone’s story. It was a true writing adventure.
If any of you want to read Tom’s story, he’ll send you a copy of Honk If you Love Jesus for free. Just message him via Facebook.
Or you can contact me and I will see that you get a copy. Email me through my contact info on my webpage.