Christian Retailing

Finding freedom through forgiveness after tragedy Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:49 PM America/New_York

Grandmother of Oklahoma City bombing victims tells story of befriending co-conspirator Terry Nichols

NowYouSeeMeKathy Sanders’ life was turned upside down April 19, 1995, when a bomb destroyed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okla. She tells her story of truth, tragedy and triumph in Now You See Me: How I Forgave the Unforgivable (FaithWords, $25), releasing in hardcover April 8.

Minutes earlier she and her daughter, Edye Lucas, had dropped off her grandsons, Chase and Colton, in the daycare center of the Federal Building. The two were working one block away when they heard and felt the explosion. 

Bolting down the street, they were some of the first civilians on scene, but were unable to find the babies. After hours of searching and holding vigil at the hospital, they received the unwanted confirmation. Both boys had lost their lives in the bombing that killed 168, including 19 children. By day’s end, Sanders and Edye drove home with empty car seats to an empty house.

“The silence was suffocating,” Sanders writes.

In the following weeks, she struggled through grief and despair, even contemplating suicide. After questioning God’s existence, she decided to turn to Him and chose life. 

Sanders began to believe that the whole truth about the bombing hadn’t yet come out to the public. She launched her own investigation, which took her into dangerous places, including a federal prison and a compound of the Aryan Nation. 

Most importantly, her search led her to forgive those who had hurt her.

“I never made a conscious decision to forgive. … It just happened,” she writes.

She attributes her ability to forgive to her long relationship with Christ and “God’s mysterious and majestic process of transforming hate and revenge into love and forgiveness.”

While in court one day, she noticed defendant Terry Nichols’ mother looking “hopelessly out of place,” she writes.

Realizing they were both victims of the bombing—each had lost loved ones that day, one to death and the other to prison—she decided the mother was not guilty just because her son was being tried. So, Sanders introduced herself and expressed sympathy.

This was the first of many olive branches she extended to demonstrate God’s love and to seek help uncovering the truth. She also reached out to all of Nichols’ family and to Nichols himself, as well as to co-conspirator Timothy McVeigh and his sister. McVeigh never consented to contact with Sanders, but others did, including Nichols. An unlikely relationship then forged. 

Sanders showed forgiveness and kindness to Nichols and his family. In turn, Nichols demonstrated trust and confided in Sanders. Now You See Me includes never-before-published letters between the two, reveals new information and underscores the freedom found in the exercise of forgiveness.

To order, call Hachette Book Group at 800-759-0190.

Amway leader shares ‘joyful life’ in memoir Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:50 PM America/New_York

SimplyRichRich DeVos, co-founder of Amway, a multibillion-dollar global company, has achieved more than most people do in a lifetime. In his new memoir from Howard Books, Simply Rich: Life and Lessons From the Cofounder of Amway (9781476751771, $25, April 1), he details the experiences that have shaped the outward focus that drives his business acumen and far-reaching philanthropy. 

In the business world, he is known as a self-made billionaire. Listed by Forbes magazine as the 60th wealthiest person in America, DeVos is also owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team and is board member for several organizations. 

In his charitable endeavors, he has helped build several sites, including the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a sports arena for Hope College and an exhibit hall in the National Constitution Center—all since undergoing a risky heart transplant that saved his life 16 years ago.

Despite his accomplishments, DeVos often introduces himself simply as “a sinner, saved by grace.”

“I cannot remember a time when I did not believe in God,” he writes. 

As a child during the Great Depression, he attended the Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.

DeVos has also never forgotten where he came from, crediting his Dutch heritage for “a love of freedom, a solid work ethic, an entrepreneurial spirit, and strong faith,” he writes.  

In high school, he met Jay Van Andel, and the two became lifelong business partners. In their first business arrangement, DeVos paid 25 cents per week for a ride to school in Van Andel’s car. They soon discovered they made a good team. With complementary strengths, they started a handful of enterprises, including a flight service and restaurant, before founding Amway, which has enabled millions worldwide to own their own business.

In Simply Rich, DeVos tells of Amway’s growth from a basement startup to an international success. He also writes about his marriage of more than 60 years, challenges he faced from government regulators and critics, and his philanthropic and political endeavors. 

Throughout his 87 years, his beliefs have remained the same. 

“These are simply the principles that have proven over time to be my foundation for a successful, fulfilling, and joyful life—a life that not only has been rewarding to me but has resulted in rewards for others,” he writes.

To order Simply Rich, call Howard Books at 800-858-4109.

CLOSE UP: Sarah Jakes Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:51 PM America/New_York

LostAndFoundLatest project: Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life (9780764212093, $24.99, Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group).

What prompted you to tell your story in Lost & Found? I never set out to write a book. When I first started writing my blog, I started it as a source of healing for me … as a place to release the pain I was going through dealing with infidelity and still fighting for my marriage … as a place I could just tell my truth. And the more I blogged, the more people responded. I then realized that by being transparent and sharing my struggles, I was able to inspire other people, and together we all started to dream again.

What have been some of the detours in your life? Having my son at the age of 14, getting married and divorcing young, even some of the choices that I have made. But what I learned through it all is that the detours may make things more difficult, but they don’t make things impossible. I thought that I couldn’t achieve success in my life because of past mistakes. I thought that I had to create a perfect picture to present to God in order for Him to use me, but what I found out was exactly opposite. God is using my life as an example to others [showing] that no matter how “lost” they may be, they can still be “found.”

How did living in the public eye as the daughter of T.D. and Serita Jakes affect you? It was certainly challenging. ... My father was continually rising. He was one of the most influential pastors in the country, so it certainly made it more difficult to be his daughter, 14 and pregnant. I still remember the murmurs of the people in the church and the shame I felt as they would talk about me as they passed by. For the most part, the church was very supportive, but when we’re only searching for negativity to brace ourselves for, that’s all we see. It was even more challenging to go through a divorce with the public spotlight once again on my personal life. 

What are some of the ways God is using you today? I oversee the women’s ministry at The Potter’s House of Dallas, which is the church led by my parents. I also serve as the senior editor of eMotions, our digital magazine. I occasionally serve as a television host on The Potter’s Touch and a speaker at our conferences. It is amazing how God works because I also wanted to work with and support my parents, but I didn’t think I could because of my past mistakes. I also regularly blog at, I travel the world sharing my story as a featured speaker and with my first book, Lost and Found, set for release on April 1, I am now an author!

FICTION FILE April 2014 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:59 PM America/New_York

BridgeToHavenASK THE AUTHOR: Francine Rivers

LATEST PROJECT: Bridge to Haven (9781414368184, $25.99, April 22)

PUBLISHER: Tyndale House Publishers

You have often said that each of your novels is inspired by a question. Is there a particular question that inspired Bridge to Haven?  I wanted to know more about the character of God. I spent more than a year reading through the Bible and filling pages with His attributes. He is the Creator, the Spirit that moved over the earth, the One who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He is our Deliverer, Father, Savior, Friend, Healer, Banner, Almighty, the Alpha and Omega. He loves His children and hates sin. And the questions kept coming: Why do people continually “fall in love” with man-made or conceived idols when He is the only One worthy of devotion and worship? Why did it take me so long to come to Him? And how can I be like Jesus when He is love personified, perfection, the perfect representation of Father God?

Sometimes the questions are too big to flesh out in a story. How do you create a character like God when He is too marvelous to behold, or His Son who is perfect and the Spirit who moves and breathes life through His Word into our lives, even translating our prayers in order to align them with God’s will? How does one live [out] God’s love for the sake of others? What does that look like in day-to-day life? How do people survive the pain that comes with rejection? How do we arrive at the happy ending we all crave? Those are the questions that drive the story.

Did some scripture inform this story?  I kept coming back to Ezekiel 16 in which God tells the story of the baby girl abandoned at birth and left to die alongside the road. He lifted her in His arms and loved her. He gave her gifts suitable for a queen, intending one day to make her His bride. It is a story of Israel, but it is also the story of each child born on this planet, each with the potential to belong to God. That story from Scripture became the foundation for Bridge to Haven. God is still the central “character,” but He is unseen, always working. The story is about pastor Ezekiel Freeman and his son, Joshua, and Abra, a baby abandoned under the bridge who grows into a beautiful rebellious teenager seduced and carried away by Dylan, a boy given over to living for self and the destruction of others. She is lost, and only God can find her and bring her home again.

Why did you choose Hollywood in the 1950s as the setting?  The Golden Years of Hollywood offered hope to countless young people who flocked to California to be discovered and made into movie stars. It still happens. From the true stories I’ve read, those who did make it were still broken people who never found happiness. Money and fame didn’t fulfill them, and sadly, some of the brightest “stars” burned out through suicide. It still happens. How many young stars do we see crashing and burning? Hollywood in the ’50s had all the glitz and glamor Satan might offer to a hurting, lost soul who yearns to be somebody who matters. It takes God to bring true light into the neon darkness and fill us with the assurance that God loves us so much He sent Jesus to make the bridge home.

What else you would like to share with Christian retailers?  Christian retailers are on the frontlines in the spiritual battle that rages around all of us and will continue until Jesus returns. Without people who place books in the hands of readers, what I do would end up being words on paper that end up tossed in a waste bin. We are all members of a team with the same goal—to promote Jesus and the gospel of our Lord. We live in a time like Judges when every man seems to be doing what is right in his own eyes. Any way we can share truth needs to be employed for the sake of the lost.

Read more of Ask the Author at

‘Acts of God’ tackles difficult question of pain and suffering Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:47 PM America/New_York

Former Southeast Christian pastor Bob Russell calls his new movie ‘very realistic and heavy’

ActsofGodFour intertwined stories tackle the question of God and human suffering in the Acts of God movie (9781939622181, $14.99, April 15), featuring nationally known pastor and speaker Bob Russell. In the film, seven people are pulled together unexpectedly through a terrible accident and their honest struggle as they ask God why it happened. 

“The concept originated with City on a Hill Productions in Louisville, [Ky.],” Russell told Christian Retailing. “They have done so much great work and Trinity Broadcasting approached them [saying] that they would like to have a movie about why God permits so much suffering in the world. City on a Hill then approached me and asked if I would work with them on this.”

Russell, who also plays a part in the movie, uses the story of Joseph in teaching DVDs and a companion book coming from Moody Publishers to explore the topic of suffering. He’s quick to point out the movie should not be thought of as “entertainment,” but that he hopes it will provide some comfort to those who have experienced pain. 

“This is a very realistic and heavy film,” he said. “It’s not just a feel-good or hokey movie. People going through suffering don’t need a theological [discourse]. They need personal touch. They need to know they’re not alone, that someone else came out the other side and still believes in God.”

The film was screened in theaters prior to its DVD debut, and reactions have been positive.

“People have come out of the movie and they say ‘Thank you, I had a son who was killed in an auto accident,’ ” Russell said. “It is so real and so down to earth I think it’s going to help people.”

Besides giving solace to those who have experienced suffering and are dealing with questions of faith, Russell said the film’s other purpose is to give Christians “ammunition” for defending their faith. 

“The number-one question nonbelievers have is, ‘If there is a God, why is there suffering?’ ” he said. “Some churches are reluctant to deal with this because they don’t have all the answers, and this movie doesn’t have all the answers. But we have to believe that God’s Word is true, and God’s Word will prevail.”

Acts of God tops off a full line of ministry resources released in February. The components—a small group study, participant’s guide and pastor’s kit—may be used individually or together in a campaign.  

Visit or for more information. To order, call 502-245-2425, ext. 23.

Meet the Artist: NEEDTOBREATHE Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:52 PM America/New_York

RiversInTheWastelandNeedtobreathe, comprised of brothers Bear Rinehart (vocals, guitar, piano) and Bo Rinehart (guitar, backing vocals) as well as Seth Bolt (bass, backing vocals), readies the group’s latest project, Rivers in the Wasteland (Word Records/Atlantic, Word Distribution), which releases April 15. Bear Rinehart recently spoke with Christian Retailing about the album, which represents a return to the group’s roots. 


What does it mean that this record is a “turning point” of sorts?   The band’s been together for a long time, for 14 years, this being our fifth record, and a lot has happened over the last couple of years. We felt some things had gotten away from us personally and the business—all that’s intertwined. Some ambition had crept in and become too important and our identities had become wrapped up in it. It didn’t start out that way. We saw signs of that and it scared us. It culminated in us fighting a lot, things that are bound to happen when you get priorities messed up. For us, our identity personally in God and the band was more in God’s hands than ours. That took an incredible amount of pressure off of what we were supposed to be. It freed it up to where God could use it and surprised us. 

Do you typically write with a particular album in mind or simply write and collect songs for one of your upcoming records?   This record took a really long time. I think it was God’s plan for that in the way He gave us the songs. The first track [on the record], “Wasteland”—we’re starting with nothing. There’s a lot of confusion. Then there’s that feeling of hope. There’s a song called “Rise Again,” maybe showing that I’m getting a glimpse of how it will be when it turns around. The song “Multiplied” is about when we let go and give things to God, how He can use those things. I think this record needed to be spread out, so we could have those things happen in our own lives. 

Going forward, what does that new focus look like?  I think we appreciate each other on another level. … We felt like if we were supposed to walk away from it, we could.  Just having that faith and that willingness, I think God met us in that place. 

What was the inspiration behind the first radio single, “Difference Maker”?  I wrote that song, really struggling with the idea of how important we are in this process that God wants us to be a part of and how important that creativity is and struggling with our role in this thing. Most of the song talks about our neediness. That’s what ties us together with each other. I think God showed us that the way to be “difference makers” is not in the things that you do, but it is in that surrender.