Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Best (Christian Fiction) Book I've Read All Year

This summer I was invited to join a friend at the relaunch of her Mary Kay business. I know. I'm such a sucker for supporting other women that I said, yes, just to honor my friend and to lend my support. Plus I use some MK products and was looking for a way to get what I needed much faster. My friend carries most all MK products in stock. Yes!

I was there with a room full of ladies I didn't know except for my friend, the consultant, but in a crowd of strangers I could do what I like most - observe. So I didn't mind.

As I started to leave, one other guest followed me out the door. She wasn't leaving, but was trying to catch me as I walked out the door. The conversation went a little like this...

Other Guest: "Do you like to read?"

Me: "Why yes, I love to read. I'm usually reading three or four books at a time. Why do you ask?"

Other Guest: "Well I felt like I was supposed to give you a copy of my book. I never do this, but I felt like the Lord wanted you to have one."

My new friend's name was Cindy Schroppel. We chatted briefly about the book (Skandalon)
and then I promised to follow up and left, realizing this was most likely a God-ordained meeting. I drove home wondering to myself, "Just what was in that book?"

I'll tell you what was in it - 1) a story of redemption that almost rivals the Biblical story of Hosea, 2) a drama so well crafted that you forget that this is the author's first novel, 3) and probably the best fictional depiction I can imagine of the battle being waged in the heavenlies for our very lives. 

I read all kinds of works: historical fiction/drama, biographies, books on leadership and ministry, and books on Christian growth, probably what I read the most. But when I want to read for sheer pleasure, my go to genre is Christian fiction. To each his own! I have a stash of Janette Oake's earlier works I'd love to give away to some sweet young reader (teens-20's). It would be my honor to pass those onto someone who'd love them as much as I did. They are treasured works which helped fuel my love for reading after I left college. (I didn't like to read before then. Thanks, for ruining that for me, high school required reading lists!)  

Skandalon is that sort of book. It's not dark. It's not heavy. It's simply a very well crafted story that will have you turning page, after page non-stop, until like me, you suddenly realize you've read the first 154 pages all in one sitting! I could hardly put it down. So I always made sure I had large blocks of time to devote to reading it.

This was Cindy's first novel. The Lord told her to write a book, and so with much trepidation and uncertainty in her own ability, she trusted God and wrote Skandalon in nine months time. The result was this gem that had me riveted! There were times when I had to stop and pray because the details surrounding the things happening in the spirit realm, were so realistic that I could not go on. The Lord was doing things in me and reminding me that I don't wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). I was convicted at times, and encouraged at others. Skandalon took me on the wildest roller coaster ride the whole way through! It was awesome!

Now if you've read any of Frank Peretti's works with a similar theme, do not think for one second that Skandalon is like his books. I've read a few and while good and revealing for the reader about what's going on in the spirit realm, both for and against us, I find his writings a bit darker than Cindy's work. Skandalon is a true love story, from start to finish, that theme remains true all throughout. It's practical, laden with scripture used as a tool in intercession, spiritual warfare and worship, and it's a drama in every sense of the word. 

A few weeks after meeting Cindy at my friend's house, we met up for a lunch with another friend of hers. There are moments when you just know this is about more than just a book. God is doing something here. Neither of us is exactly sure of the magnitude of that meeting at the MK gathering just yet, but after reading her book I am most definitely a fan!

Cindy is writing a Bible study to go along with the book. It should be available sometime in January. Bible studies, teaching, and leading worship are where Cindy feels most comfortable. That's just crazy to me after reading Skandalon. I can't wait to see what words she puts to paper next, because if writing novels is among her least comfortable gifting, then good grief! Where do I pre-order her next work?