The first day Kevin West saw the shabbily dressed stranger enter his grocery store, he had no idea this man would change his life. This book is a well written account of that unlikely friendship.
West had been a successful vice president of a bank when, in 1998, he resigned, having made fraudulent loans. He had drifted far from his faith and his pursuit of success had driven him to illegal banking practices. Waiting for his indictment and trial, he spent the time managing the small grocery store he had bought in Ironton, Ohio, as an investment. At a low ebb, he cried out to God. The answer came in the form of an elderly and unkempt man named Don.
This is a fascinating story of an unlikely friendship, one that changed both of the men. There are many lessons to learn from this book. A major one is how we look at other people. Many of us would have written Don off as a homeless panhandler, never thinking God might have something for us to learn from him. We are taught that there is value in every person and each one of them has a story.
I was impressed with the biblical teaching included within the development of the story. Don has a surprising insight into Scripture and an amazing amount of spiritual wisdom. We learn a lesson on brokenness and honesty. We read about our trying to project the image we think others want of us. We see the difference between intellectually accepting forgiveness and actually living out that forgiveness emotionally.
The story is a lesson on God's plan for our lives. Kevin had to experience the pain and hurt his actions caused in those he loved the most. He also had to realize that God's path for him included prison as part of his growth journey. Yet, because of his interaction with Don and his desire to deepen his faith, Kevin prospered in prison where God used him mightily. His marriage was preserved and strengthened and he received the support of friends and relatives.
I recommend this story as a good one showing how God may use the very unusual to influence our lives. Who would have thought that a man smelling of uncleanness and dressed in tattered clothes would be the one to spiritually mentor an ex-bank vice-president? It is a good reminder to be open to those around us and see them as God does.
You can read an excerpt here.
My rating: 5/5 stars.
Kevin West has recently served as executive pastor of Christ Temple Church in Huntington, West Virginia, and is now president of Kevin West Ministries and Expression Ministries Network, senior pastor of Expression Church of Huntington, and a business owner. He speaks internationally and can be heard on his daily radio program, Real Life with Kevin West. He and his wife have four children and two grandchildren. You can find out more at www.KevinWest.org.
John Frederick Edwards is an award winning author with an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English. He has taught writing in universities and private schools. A native of West Virginia, he and his wife spend their time between Kentucky and Texas.
Howard Books, 240 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.