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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Jerry Jenkins and Frank Peretti
June 2, 2013

Storytellers with a Mission

During individual interviews in 2004, 2005 and 2007, Jerry Jenkins and Frank Peretti shared some of their insights on writing and ministry with the
Pentecostal Evangel.

Jenkins is the author of more than 180 books, including the international best-selling
Left Behind series with Tim LaHaye. Jenkins’ writing has appeared in Time, Reader’s Digest, Parade, Guideposts and dozens of Christian periodicals. He also serves as a contributing editor for Writer’s Digest and owns the Christian Writers Guild.

Peretti’s novels have established him as one of today’s best-known Christian authors, with some 15 million copies of his books in print.
This Present Darkness, the work that propelled Peretti to international acclaim, appeared on Bookstore Journal’s best-seller list every month for more than eight years. This Present Darkness and its sequel, Piercing the Darkness, together sold more than 3.5 million copies.

The authors spoke with Scott Harrup,
Evangel managing editor.

evangel: During more than a dozen years of working alongside Dr. Tim LaHaye on the Left Behind series, how has he impacted your life?

JENKINS: I feel like I’ve been to the “LaHaye Seminary.” For one thing, he’s the same age as my mother, so there’s a father/son dynamic that is special. We’ve really become friends over the years.

He has a reputation for being a polemical and kind of a plainspoken guy who is often embroiled in debates over issues. But I find what makes him that way also gives him strength in the area of his beliefs. I’ve seen him pray personally for countless people, and I’ve seen how much he cares for souls. The bottom line with him is getting people saved. He’s had a tremendous impact on my life.

evangel: This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness both examine satanic forces. What are some current cultural markers that make you believe society is willing to consider the reality of demonic activity?

PERETTI: I don’t see any markers that indicate, at least in our culture, in the West, that we’re more preoccupied with demonic activity. But I do see a definite rise in the interest in spirituality. It takes different forms. Being spiritual creatures and being deprived of spiritual reality through humanism and evolution and all this other stuff, people are searching. A lot of films have come out dealing with spiritual issues, the hereafter, and what’s going to happen to us when we die. There’s a hunger out there.

evangel: Whom do you go to, or what resources do you access, to maintain your spiritual vitality?

PERETTI: I develop a small circle of friends whom I can share with. I attend church, of course, and the worship and the teaching from the Word are integral to my faith. But having that cluster of good, godly, mature people around me really counts for a lot.

It’s a funny dynamic, when you become some kind of a known person, I guess. A lot of people know who you are and want to somehow be a part of your life. But that makes it so much more important that you have close friends who know you for who you really are. You need a group of people around you who can share life as it really is and share the Lord.

evangel: You’ve received about 3,000 personal testimonies of people coming to Christ through reading the Left Behind books. Any chance that the books have confused other people or made their spiritual journey more complicated?

JENKINS: Our worst critics will say that we’re setting people up for disappointment if they think they’re going to escape the Tribulation and it turns out they don’t. We believe our pre-Tribulation position on the Rapture is correct, but even if we were here during the Tribulation I don’t see how what we’ve written would be harmful. People would still know what was happening and would still, hopefully, be studying Scripture and trying to remain true to the Lord.

Since our position is that there is a second chance for people during the Tribulation, another criticism is that some readers might wait to see if we’re right and then plan to accept Christ. People ask what if we’re wrong and there is no second chance. In our minds, that responsibility lies with the reader.

The Tribulation is going to be the worst time in the history of the world. You don’t want to risk God hardening your heart or your dying in the chaos that ensues before you can become a Christian. I think the picture we paint shows that it’s really risky to think you can wait until the Rapture to prove the claims of Christianity before you decide to accept Christ.

evangel: You’ve traveled the country with your monologue “The Chair,” talking about people who create their own truth. Where do you anchor your truth claims?

PERETTI: My truth claims are anchored in the Word of God. The Bible is a consistent, coherent message from God applicable to all aspects of life in all times and in all places. It has proven itself through the centuries. It presents a whole scheme of truth that is consistent with what we observe in reality in terms of man’s heart, man’s needs, and what can be done about man’s needs.

How did Charles Colson put it? Three big questions: How did we get here? What went wrong? How do we fix it? The Bible answers those questions. Ravi Zacharias offers the classic worldview quadrants: Where do we come from? Why are we here? How should we live since we are here? Where are we going? The Bible answers all those questions.

Consider the implications of evolution’s answers. How did we get here? We’re strictly an accident. What’s the purpose for being here? There is no purpose because we’re an accident. How should we live? Any way you want. Where are we going? Nowhere.

I wish people would think about this before they just jump in and believe evolution. Look at the consequences. This is devastating.

evangel: Even while writing prolifically over the years, you’ve managed to prioritize time with your family. Why is that important, and how was that possible?

JENKINS: It really came about when I was at Scripture Press in the ’70s. We didn’t have kids yet. I was interviewing people for Sunday School paper stories. I interviewed five or six middle-aged men who were about twice my age at the time and their kids were grown.

I was interviewing them about all sorts of subjects for different stories, but in each interview at some point I asked them about any regrets they had in life. To a man, they said they wished they had spent more time with their kids when they were growing up. And these weren’t kids who went off the deep end or anything. It was just that these men felt they had lost those years.

I remember talking to Dianna about it and saying, “If I get to be that age and have that same regret, I’ll be without excuse because clearly God’s trying to tell me something.” So we set a policy that I wouldn’t do any work from the office or any writing from the time I got home from work until the kids went to bed.

That gave me anywhere from two to four hours a day with the boys. I didn’t force them to talk to me or play with me. But I was there for them. I wasn’t behind a closed door, a newspaper or TV. Since Dianna had been with them all day, that gave her time to do what she needed to do.

I think that’s one of the reasons that our kids never went through a serious rebellion. They didn’t agree with us on certain things, and they may have questioned our judgment, but they never questioned our motives.

You can tell kids that they’re your number one priority, and they hear what you say but they believe what you do. If I told my sons they were my priority, then told them they couldn’t bother me for a few hours, they would know where they stood. Our sons still talk about the fact we were at every game, every school activity they had.

As a writer, that also forced me to be really productive from the time they went to bed until I went to bed. I usually wrote from 9 to midnight. I’m not a night person, but I didn’t have a choice. I was writing several books a year back then besides working full time. But keeping those priorities in order cleared my conscience. I never had to write while feeling guilty.

The full interviews are available online at:


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