Friday, July 11, 2008

Once Blind by Kay Marshall Strom

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
Kay Marhall Strom

and her book

Once Blind

Authentic (January 2, 2008)


Kay Marshall Strom is the author of thirtyone published books. Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, stories for children, two prizewinning screenplays, and booklets for writers. In addition to her writing, Kay is a soughtafter speaker at seminars, retreats, and special events throughout the U.S. and around the world. Kay and her husband have together spoken in more than twenty countries. They make their home in Santa Barbara, California.

Visit her at her website.

Product Details

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Authentic (January 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068276
ISBN-13: 978-1934068274

In the year 1787 William Wilberforce asked John Newton a question: “But how can I gain the support I so desperately need from the wide range of people with whom I must work without compromising my Christian faith?” Newton replied, “If you meet with unkind and mercenary spirits, you will bear it patiently when you think of Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself.” These words are captured on page 211 of Kay Marshall Strom’s book, Once Blind The life of John Newton. For me, this simple question and answer captures the essence of John Newton’s struggle against his own years as a rebellious infidel and the battle he waged later in life against the slave trade. For you see, until we understand that our sin – all of it – is against God Himself, and that His grace alone is able to save us from ourselves, then no matter our lot in life we are hopeless and helpless to effect any change at all among those with whom we share this life.

I’ve sung the words to Amazing Grace an untold number of times throughout my lifetime. As I’ve grown older, the truth of those words become clearer and dearer to my heart. Now that I have read about the life of the man that penned the words to that song, I know I will hold it even dearer and examine my own heart more closely because of what I have learned. The life of John Newton was hellish from very early on. That he grew into a young man with a bitter, rebellious heart and a vile mouth and mind is not much of a surprise given the treatment he received from the adults in his life at such a tender age. What amazes me is that as often as it seems he escaped death, and as often as he bore unmentionable mistreatment and agony, he seemed to always bounce back to a state of mind and heart even worse than before – never changed, never awakened to the condition of his own vile heart.

The storm that marked the turning point in Newton’s life is an experience that seems should have certainly robbed him of his life, yet the change it brought about and the legacy it allowed Newton to leave behind in sermons, books and prayers is simply a miracle of God alone. Kay Marshall Strom has captured a true picture of the infidel that was John Newton and the gradual changes that finally brought this man to the point of repentance. His life is a beautiful picture of redemption and the truth of his words are needed today as desperately as they were so many years ago.

I strongly encourage everyone to purchase a copy of this wonderful book so that you can understand anew what it means to be saved by God’s grace! We live in a world where physical, mental and emotional slavery still survive and thrive, and nothing short of God’s redeeming grace can set any of us free! I pray that we all will be salt and light just as John Newton was, and that we will live every moment mindful of the One who died to set us free. Thank you, Kay Marshall Strom, for the phenomenal work of Once Blind! I pray it changes the lives of all who read it.


Chapter One


Donned in a freshly powdered wig and crisp clerical robe, Reverend John Newton stood in the pulpit of London’s stately St. Mary Woolnoth Church. He looked old. Old and profoundly weary. Still, since precious few seafaring men survived to see the age of sixty-five, who could say whether it was his years that wore on him or just this day?

Wealthy tradesmen and upper-class businessmen, accompanied by their exquisitely dressed families, had arrived early, and with much fanfare, settled themselves in the forward pews—their pews. Further back, the “ordinary folk” squeezed in close together . . . shopkeepers and laborers and widows and such—the people the reverend held particularly close to his heart. Visitors packed in behind and between and around the regulars, and spilled out into the aisles and entryways. They came from all over London . . . indeed, from across England, and even as far away as Scotland. Every Sunday was the same when John Newton was in the pulpit.

Reverend Newton leaned forward, squinting to make out the individual faces of his flock. It was no use. The people he had grown to love so dearly appeared as little more than a collective blur. His eyes, always weak, had grown so dim he could barely read his sermon notes. Just as well, perhaps. This might not be the day to see faces clearly.

“You know me for what I am,” Reverend Newton began. “Not a person of mighty consequence . . . only a great sinner saved by God’s grace.”

Rustling in the pews. Eyebrows raised and glances exchanged. Whispers.

“Some of you are aware of the fact that a Slavery Abolition Bill has been sent to Parliament,” the reverend continued. “As I have intimate knowledge of the slave trade, my dear William Wilberforce has requested my testimony before a select parliamentary committee. I consider myself bound in conscience to answer this call . . . to wash my hands of the guilt which threatens to constitute a national sin, stained with crimson dye.”

The rustling stopped and whispers ceased. Silence fell over St. Mary’s. It was almost as if the cathedral itself was holding its breath.

With the slightest tremor of weariness, Reverend Newton continued: “Since I agreed to appear, I have received repeated threats from some who benefit most by the cursed trade. They say that if I insist on going through with my testimony, they will reveal to you, my dear parishioners and friends, the darkest evils of my own wretched past life. I will be publicly shamed and humiliated. Even forced from the ministry. They accuse me of being a hypocrite. Well, my friends, I can only say that I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me that I was once an instrument in this awful business at which my heart now shudders.”

An uneasy shuffling among those in the forward pews.

“Every age seems to have people who have made a habit of evil, who have had to look up in order to see the bottom,” said Reverend Newton. “Yet in the day of God’s power, they are saved and transformed. They become an example to other believers, giving them an opportunity to praise God for his amazing grace. I, my good people, was one of these. God saved me so that people would look at me and say, ‘If God could save John Newton, he can save anyone.’ Surely you can understand, then, that my silence at such a time as this would be criminal . . . even though my words come too late to prevent or repair the misery and horror to which I was an accessory.”

Many of those crowded into the church that morning owed their livelihoods—indeed, some great fortunes—to the slave trade. Of this fact, John Newton was well aware. Besides, these people worshipped in a respected cathedral of the Church of England, not in a meetinghouse of Quakers or, even worse, of Dissenters. Not in the expected haunts of evangelical rabble-rousers.

“Those of you who have read my publication, Narrative, must think you know me well. But had I given details of the wickedness of my heart and life, it would have been too shocking for my readers to bear.”

As Reverend Newton’s passion grew, a new strength and authority overtook him. His weariness fell off like a worn-out cloak.

“No, my dear friends!” he exclaimed. “You will not hear it from them! You will hear it

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