Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guest blog with Lois Drake

Today, we have a guest blog from Lois Drake, author of Issa: The Greatest Story Never Told. Don't forget to read her interview and my review of the book!

Please note: Guest blogs are purely the work of the contributing author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog, its owner or other represented authors.

Writing religious fiction offers blessings and challenges

A few of the questions I’m most frequently asked during interviews are, “What was it like to write a book about Jesus? Aren’t you taking on a lot to portray someone that people have strong beliefs about?”

These are good questions and ones that I have asked myself since first receiving the inner prompting to write Issa. If I did not have faith that I was intended to do this and if I did not have supportive friends who prayed for me and believed this project was God’s will, I don’t think the book would have made it to completion. The challenge was to overcome my anxiety and keep going.

The blessing was that as I prayed and sat down to research or write I felt a wonderful sense of drawing closer to the master. If there is something good and inspiring in Issa I know it is not my own. I give that credit to God. But finding words to depict such a wonderful character was not easy. They were not delivered to me on a golden platter—nor did they miraculously appear on my laptop! I had to struggle with the dialogue and descriptions, working through my own limitations of psychology and understanding. The comfort to me is that Jesus’ message to us is not about becoming humanly perfect but to become like him and let our inner divinity shine. Writing religious fiction is an exercise in trying to let the light of the Christ, the Buddha, the Krishna or whatever name you call the Higher Self come through.

On a less mystical level, I did my best to study the stories of traditional Christianity and Judaism, and then based my ideas of how Jesus as a teen might react to different situations from what we know of him in the Bible and legends. From there I imagined what it might have been like for this extraordinary young man to go to India and the Himalayas as told in Buddhist texts published in The Lost Years of Jesus. What would he have encountered that was different than Nazareth? What would he have learned? What would he have taught? How would the answers to those questions affect traditional Christian thought?

Jesus was a revolutionary with ideas that sparked both love and anger toward him. When writing about such a figure, it’s impossible to avoid controversy, but worth every minute of painful—yet necessary—growth.


Thank you to Lois Drake for spending the past three days with us!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Author Interview: Lois Drake

Today's interview is with Lois Drake, author of ISSA: The Greatest Story Never Told. Be sure to read my review of the book!


Jennifer Walker: What inspired you to write Issa?

Lois Drake
: From the time I was a teenager, I felt there was more to Jesus’ message than meets the eye. Spirituality was and is very important to me, so I began to ask questions. When I was in college, I had two professors who introduced me to the concepts of divinity within, reincarnation, and similarities between Christianity and Eastern religions. It wasn’t until about ten years later, though, that I came across a book by Elizabeth Clare Prophet called, The Lost Years of Jesus. Mrs. Prophet documented a mysterious Buddhist manuscript that said Jesus went to India and the Himalayas to study and teach. Her book really got me started and inspired me to put the text into story form so these important ideas could be contemplated by many—especially our youth.

Jennifer Walker: How much research did you do before writing Issa? Talk a little about how you conducted your research.

Lois Drake
: My research came from many sources. My collaborator, Fred Peck, gathered materials mainly related to the Kushan civilization. He collected academic books, interviewed professors, dug into research papers and combed the Internet for pieces to this fascinating empire that later disappeared.

Meanwhile, I gathered spiritual concepts from the Bible, The Lost Years of Jesus, other books on the world religions, and an array of related books and Internet sites. Spiritual books from Summit University Press were particularly helpful in bringing concepts of the world religions together and shedding light on Biblical passages and Buddhist and Hindu precepts.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, some of my research came from my earlier travels to Tibet and China. I went to Tibet on several trips knowing that it was said that Jesus had gone there too. My purpose was to help children. My husband and I started a non-profit organization called Friendship Homes and Schools to support an orphanage there and later arranged homes and education for impoverished children in other parts of China as well. Now after over ten years the non-profit has moved on to other endeavors for young people, but the experience of working with a Tibetan lama and his friends gave me insight into what Jesus might have experienced two-thousand years before.

Since Issa was published, I have also had the opportunity for extensive travel in India which really reinforced the scenes depicted in the novel. Many people in India have heard that Jesus came to their land, and outside Madras is the Saint Thomas Basilica believed to house the relics of this disciple who went to India after the crucifixion. So there are definitely connections between India and Jesus’ work.

Jennifer Walker: How many of the events and people in Issa: The Greatest Story Never Told are based on historical record, versus your imagination?

Lois Drake
: The Kushan king, Taktu, and prince, Vima Kadphises, are historical characters though very little is known about them and even the dates of their reigns are in question, though the empire was solidifying during Jesus’ lifetime. Some history is pieced together from their coins and other artifacts. A later Kushan king, Kanishka, was famous for building a huge Buddhist shrine in what is now Peshawar, Pakistan, and he also convened the first Buddhist Council. Since the Kushan empire extended over central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, and other areas, we can easily imagine the panoply of religions that were tolerated peacefully within the realm: Zoroastrianism, early Hinduism, Judaism, early Buddhism, and others.

The accounts of where Jesus went in India and the situations he encountered came directly from the English translations of the Buddhist text. Unfortunately, the original document was last seen in 1939 at the Himis Monastery in Ladakh and has yet to reappear. The sites mentioned, however, can still be visited in India and are revered as holy places of Krishna and Gautama Buddha.

I imagined a story based on these foundations and juxtaposed preparation for an earthly kingdom of the Kushan people with Jesus’ preparations for a heavenly kingdom.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about you: your interests, family, pets, hobbies.

Lois Drake
: I grew up in southern California but spent most of my adult life on a quest for spiritual truth that led me to many places. I took my elementary educational credential in California and landed my first job in Haines, Alaska, teaching second grade for two years. I loved the outdoors and spent a lot of time along rivers and fjords before going inside to write short stories or poetry. From Alaska I corresponded with schools all over the world and ended up teaching kindergarten in Finland for two years. There I enjoyed the mysticism of the quiet beauty of nature and the Finnish epic poem of folklore, Kalevala.

Next, I pursued a career in advertising in California which lasted for many years before I married in my early forties. Although my husband and I have no children, we love young people and assisting them with their goals. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing to that audience. Although none are published, I also have a lot of fun writing children’s stories with spiritual themes.

My main hobbies are hiking, cross-country skiing, reading, writing, and even drawing amateur cartoons! I like knitting but I only knit scarves because they are straight and simple. I think I have enough scarves now.

Jennifer Walker: Do you have any other writing projects, past or upcoming, you would like to tell us about?

Lois Drake: I’m working on the sequel to Issa: The Greatest Story Never Told. The first book is about Jesus as a teen in India. The second book is about his return as a young adult from the Himalayas to Galilee. This episode of his life is also documented in the Buddhist text published in The Lost Years of Jesus and I’ve created episodes to illustrate the scenes. This novel has been especially poignant to write because Jesus is now a young adult facing challenges that many of us can identify with.

Jennifer Walker: How did you become a writer? Is it something you've always wanted to do, or is this a recent development?

Lois Drake
: For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be an author. Somehow that term was with me even in elementary school. When I was eight or nine I wrote poetry and drew pictures to go with them. I wish I still had some of those early creations. But like most of us, I put away my childhood dreams as I made my way through life. Interestingly, though, all of my careers had to do with children or writing.

Although writing is hard work, for me it is also a way to enter deeply into the inner sanctuary of my being and commune with God whom I credit as the source of all uplifting creativity.

Jennifer Walker: What was the process you went through to get Issa published? Was it frustrating? Easy?

Lois Drake
: First, I learned that if I wanted to be published I had to put away my ego. By that I mean that if a writer is very sensitive about critiques and reviews, getting published will be a painful experience. I say that as I smile because working with Snow Mountain Press was a wonderful experience of teamwork. But it wouldn’t have been so pleasant if any of us had insisted that “my way” was the only right way. Working in advertising for many years I learned that many artists are very attached to their creations remaining untouched.

This could not be the case with Issa. I knew it would have to go through thorough review for fact-checking and theological accuracy—at least to the best of our abilities. I would estimate that the editing and rewriting process took a few years and I would guess that more than forty people gave input!
In the end, I am very grateful to all of them because the teamwork truly brought the novel to a higher level than my earliest draft. I received new insights all the way. But I have to admit, it was hard to edit so many times. Nevertheless whenever I edited I could always say afterward, “That’s better!”

Jennifer Walker: Did anything interesting happen while you were researching and writing Issa?

Lois Drake
: I’m sure every author has the experience of sitting down with a blank laptop screen or piece of paper before them and saying, “Now what?”

I found it interesting that if I began early in the morning and said a prayer, the story unfolded itself. I would force myself to put down something even if I was only working for fifteen minutes. That something always led to the next thing. I worked from an outline I created in the same manner based on the research.

Many times the story would come together while I was out hiking or sleeping at night and the next morning I would be able to begin again. In this way, even though I had to imagine what it might have been like two thousand years ago, I felt that Jesus was helping me prepare this novel.

Jennifer Walker: If you were banished on a desert island and could have one item with you, what would it be?

Lois Drake
: I used to think about this question even as a child. My answer was always, “The Bible.” And it still is. Why? Because if you read the Bible through the heart rather than through the head (and without the filters of traditional doctrine), and if you ask Jesus and Buddha to explain it to you, I believe you will find everything there to lead to union with God and your own ascension which I believe is the goal of life.

That said, you will notice my emphasis on the heart. Nurturing the divine spark in the heart is the most important “survival tool” to me, and if I couldn’t have any item, I would invite the Christ, the Buddha to dwell in my heart and I’m sure I would be transformed.

Maybe I need to be banished on a desert island!

Jennifer Walker: Who is your favorite author?

Lois Drake:
What a difficult question. I really enjoy reading biographies of heroes, spiritual work, and some fiction that helps raise consciousness.
I would say my favorite fiction author is C.S. Lewis for The Chronicles of Narnia. His art of writing makes us love his lion-character, Aslan, so much that we learn to love the Christ. I believe the Christ or the Buddha is a higher consciousness—the universal Son of God—that can reside in each of us and was manifested in Jesus and the great saints and sages of East and West. Lewis’ lion helped me contact the courage and the supreme sacrifice we are all called to make as we strive to become a Christ or a Buddha.

For non-fiction, hands-down my favorite author is Elizabeth Clare Prophet not only for The Lost Years of Jesus but also for other esoteric work that helps explain the deeper meanings and mystical similarities of the world’s great religions. One of her most popular books is Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil. In it she publishes and comments upon the missing Book of Enoch. In today’s tumultuous world, that’s another great story to help us make heads and tails out of all the darkness we observe. That may inspire me to yet another novel.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review: Issa: The Greatest Story Never Told

ISSA: The Greatest Story Never Told, by Lois Drake

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Snow Mountain Press (September 25, 2009)
ISBN-10: 193289005X
Rating (1 to 5 *): *****


There are few people, religious or not, who have never heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Probably equally as well known is the story of His death, when the Jews crucified Him and He rose from the dead three days later. What is not known is what happened for a large portion of His life—what was He like as a teenager? Where was He when He was 20? 25? How did He become the man that people devote their lives to studying and emulating?

Issa: The Greatest Story Never Told is a fictional story, but it is based in part on research presented in the book The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus’ 17-year Journey to the East, by Elizabeth Clare Prophet.

The story begins with a young Jesus, who realizes it is time for Him to move away from His family for a while to find the teacher who will help him on His journey to teach the people about the Father. A family friend, Joseph of Arimathea, spirits the young Messiah away in the middle of the night, and the journey begins.

Many miles away, the young prince Vima of the Kushans, a lost race, must also journey far from home, but his purpose is to stay safe from the Huns, who are out to destroy his whole family. Soon, Vima and Jesus find themselves traveling together, along with a few other friends, in search of Maitreya—the teacher. In order to protect their identities, they change their names. Jesus becomes known as Issa. While Vima is destined to rule his tribe but be otherwise forgotten by history, Jesus is destined to save the world.

While I am not educated enough in religious history to comment on the plausibility of Lois Drake’s story, it is a fun, entertaining tale. It is fun to explore this possibility of what Jesus’ life might have been like, if the reader is willing to suspend what they have been told about Him. The characters—including a highly intelligent monkey—are engaging and some of the adventures are exciting. Issa: The Greatest Story Never Told is a fun and thought-provoking read!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review: Jesus is for Everybody, by Sophia White

Jesus is for Everybody: Building a Personal Relationship with God, by Sophia White

Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: iUniverse (January 2, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0595719856


There was a time when going to church and being religious was a foregone conclusion: of course one believes in God! It’s what one does! However, as time marched on, many people moved away from the church and their faith. It became somehow politically incorrect to be publicly faithful. As a result, many people grew up in non-religious households or left the church when they grew older.

In recent years, it seems that people are returning to the church once again. Hard times especially lead people to think about the faith they had abandoned or never had in the first place. However, faith can be a confusing and complex concept to the non-educated. Sophia White seeks to help those who are lost, showing them that, truly, Jesus is for Everybody.

In Ms. White’s book, she discusses faith and the scriptures as they tell us about God, faith, church, the world and wisdom. In each section, she gives an introduction with what she has learned through her studies and her life, then provides passages from scripture to illustrate the concepts further.

While the Bible can be challenging to read and intimidating to approach because of its language and random layout, Ms. White seeks to remedy that by grouping the passages together that tell us about each of the subjects she covers. For the newcomer to these ideas, Jesus is for Everybody is a useful study guide and a valuable introduction to scripture.

While I would have liked to have seen a bit more help in the book for examining, interpreting and applying to every day life each passage she quoted from the Bible, I found Jesus is for Everybody to be an interesting and educational read.

Be sure to read Sophia White's guest blog and interview!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Guest blog with Sophia White

Today, we have a guest blog from Sophia White, author of Jesus is for Everybody: Building a Personal Relationship with God.
My review of her book will be posted on December 15th, so be sure to come back and read it! Also be sure to read her interview.

Please note: Guest blogs are purely the work of the contributing author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog, its owner or other represented authors. Any comments about the subject matter should be addressed to the writer of the guest blog. The following is unedited.

A Woman’s Right to Choose, by Sophia White

The core of civilization is being plagued with sexual promiscuity so I strongly believe that a woman’s right to choose ends when she decides to participate in sexual intercourse. As such, abortions belong in family court. Other than physical force, people have the power to accept or reject sexual advances. This is not about two consenting adults. Once a child is conceived the process should be viewed as a family decision at large. Abortions should be considered more so a medical decision that is reviewed and approved by family of the unborn child to ensure his/her interest is thoroughly considered.

Abortions are about avoiding childbirth and it is extremely difficult to comprehend why government does not recognize these major consequences to society at large. God has given us the means to procreate with the motivation of utmost pleasure. Instead of viewing sexual relations with the sensitivity in which it was designed, some minds have become confused and consumed with perversion without recognizing the byproduct related to our culture as a whole. I believe women are the core of these issues whether associated with companionship or developing a healthy mindset in children. It’s dangerous to view an abortion as another means of birth control as I once heard from a close girlfriend who admitted to aborting four or five fetus’ prior to deciding on a permanent surgical procedure to prevent childbirth altogether.

Once the pregnancy process begins, the fetus does not just belong to the woman. This future human being now has a father and other family members who deserve a legal say so in the decision making. Sad to say, but a woman loses her right to choose immediately following conception. Her body was designed to protect the unborn; and within a democratic society, there should no longer be a single decision maker to abort the development process of another human being. I don’t believe the government is required to assist in that decision, but I do believe the government is responsible for designing a process whereby all family members are allowed a voice according to the rights of an unborn child. Determining the criteria used to design such a process is where it all begins.

Many situations will prove that God gives life, but humanity has discovered numerous of ways to circumvent the process. Please keep in mind that if God chooses to bring a child into this world, there is no amount of birth control or abortion techniques powerful enough to stop it. The Bible teaches that some of us are children of God and others are children of Satan. Before choosing their own demise, women need to understand scriptures surrounding womanhood more clearly! On the other hand, abortion procedures are being approved with disregard to innocent life. Women are not being forced to think long and hard before engaging in such a serious act and in most cases, the decision is made with deep regret. Abstinence before marriage is an outdated notion and social expectations can lead to careless decision making so why not institute a deterrent? Sexual intercourse may start as self control, but it has consequences extending beyond self.

When society says that a woman has a right to choose, the question I ask is: choose what? Unless there are extreme medical circumstances, abortion is not a humane option. A woman’s right to choose ends after selecting sexual intercourse, which is a serious act given by God not to be taken lightly. Sexual intercourse is our means of procreation. Sexual feelings are a natural motivation for procreation provided by God. A woman facilitates the birthing process, but life is created by God. Women are the vessel used by God to funnel life into the world, but the blood line of the baby is from the father. When a woman chooses an abortion, it creates consequences that impact other areas of life, including her mental and physical health. Abortion may sometimes be seen as a quick fix so the government should view this as an opportunity to regulate the procedure by protecting everyone involved. God creates babies to serve a purpose in life, and the government is responsible for protecting life.

When a woman becomes impregnated, she is no longer alone. By law, women should not be considered the sole decision maker and therefore should not be given sole authority to approve such drastic measures. The father and other family members should be legally bound to the process. If unknown, a woman should be required to run a newspaper advertisement to locate any family claiming a right to the child. By placing stiff regulations and publicity on abortions, it takes the movement to a whole new level. If abortions are challenged in public, it becomes a family dispute whereby the government provides the proper framework to protect the unborn child based on criteria defined by law. When public announcements are required, couples will start to think twice before carelessly taking the life of their unknown child. Since the fetus is our first phase of human life, abortions should require an official obituary to notify the public of death.

The scriptures teach that the mothers of Jesus and John the Baptist noticed their babies responding to one another while still in the wound. I cannot explain a pregnancy miscarriage, except that it removes human choice from God’s equation. It is unknown to everyone who a baby will grow up to be. If our government finds a means to address abortions from a medical standpoint, it will be a blessing to humanity as a whole.

To learn more, read my book entitled “Jesus is for Everybody: Building a Personal Relationship with God.

Visit my website at

Sophia White, Author

Linda Weaver Clarke's Christmas Give-away

Passing this along for Linda Weaver Clarke. Don't forget to read my interview with her about her work!

Christmas is a season of giving, so I would like to show my thankfulness to all my friends by giving a few books away for Christmas. To enter the give-away, visit my blog at and leave a comment along with your e-mail address. I hope all of you enjoy this wonderful Christmas season.

Linda Weaver Clarke

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Illustrator Interview: Debra Torrico

Today's interview is with the illustrator for MY book, Bubba Goes National! Read on and learn a little about Debra Torrico and what it takes to be an artist.

Visit my website to order your copy of Bubba Goes National!

Jennifer Walker: How long have you been drawing/painting? Have you always been interested in drawing horses?

Debra Torrico
: Oh my, I’ve had a pencil or paintbrush in my hand for as long as I can remember… I doodled horses on almost any surface I came in contact with, notebooks, homework, even my bedroom walls… My parents actually allowed me to draw life sized carousel horses on all four walls of my room.

Jennifer Walker: Have you had any training for your art? How did you learn to draw so well?

Debra Torrico
: I am currently attending the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg Virginia, majoring in Studio Art, where I am receiving a formal and classical education in the fine arts. Learning to draw and paint well is very dependent upon having well developed observational skills, studying the nature of the subject all while mastering techniques and the medium.

Jennifer Walker: Do you draw anything besides horses?

Debra Torrico
: Horses are my passion, and I won’t deny they are my favorite subject to draw, paint and sculpt. However, I have explored the human form in portraiture, as well as still life and landscape painting.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about the drawings for Bubba Goes National. What medium did you use?

Debra Torrico
: The mediums used for the illustrations in Bubba Goes National are watercolor and pen and ink. The illustration used on the book cover is rendered in watercolor allowing for vibrant colors and a loose nature matching the energy of the image. The interior illustrations are completed in pen and ink allowing the images to be crisp and clear.

Jennifer Walker: What made you decide to apply for the job of illustrator on this book?

Debra Torrico
: I decided to approach the author, Jennifer Walker when she mentioned she was looking for an artist who was familiar with the Arabian breed to illustrate her new book. As a passionate admirer of the Arabian horse (a breeder and exhibitor myself) I jumped at the opportunity to work with Jennifer and promptly sent her a sample collection of some of my works.

Jennifer Walker: Have you illustrated any other works or otherwise drawn professionally, and do you hope to do any more? Is this something you see yourself doing more of?

Debra Torrico
: Bubba Goes National is the first work I have illustrated professionally. I do offer portrait commissions in watercolor and will be offering commissions in oil as soon as I can set up my studio. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being an illustrator and would certainly look forward to more opportunities as an illustrator in the future.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about you, other than art. Your horses/other pets, your family, your day job, etc.

Debra Torrico
: Our little farm in Virginia is quite the hub of activity. My husband, William is a Marine JAG (Judge Advocate General), which is a fancy way of saying military attorney, stationed at Quantico. We have a four year old son, Tristan who is a whirlwind of energy and a great little helper in the barn. Our farm is also home to three purebred Arabian horses, two mares (Showdivine and Arabella Arabesq), a stallion (CLA Black Label), one retired Paso Fino gelding (Futuro), two black and white barn cats (Rembrandt and Saskia), nine chickens (yes, they all have names, and are for egg production only) three house cats: two Siamese (Karma and Tomodachi) and tabby (Geisha). That’s a lot of critters!

Other than all of the work taking care of the animals entails the constant upkeep of our 100+ year old farm house keeps us on our toes. It is a lot of effort, but it is a labor of love and watching it all come together is very rewarding.

Jennifer Walker: Is there an artist who has inspired or mentored you in your work?

Debra Torrico
: What a great question! There are quite a few artists I have connected with through my studies and aspire to… The Dutch Renaissance master Rembrandt for his use of light and probing detail, the French Romanticism painter Delacroix for his ability to capture the momentum of the moment, and the Neoclassical painter Bouguereau for his exquisite gift of portraying the human form both physically and emotionally.

An artist who has inspired me personally would be Joseph DiBella, my Drawing/Painting professor. He is a great source of knowledge and inspiration in his method and ability to nurture each individual student to dig deep and explore their own gifts, realize possibilities, to make unique marks and to be comfortable and confident in our talent.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite book or movie of all time?

Debra Torrico
: So many to choose from... As a young teenager I remember being deeply moved by the book "War Horse" by British author Michael Morpurgo. I still dust it off and re-read it from time to time. As for movies, I think Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) still holds my No. 1 spot with its imaginative parallel between worlds of reality and fantasy.

Jennifer Walker: If you were to live in any country besides the US, which would it be and why?

Debra Torrico
: Having already lived in and explored Egypt, Nigeria and Japan I think I would be keen to live in Hungary. My father’s side of the family is from Hungary and I think it would be very interesting to explore the history and land where my ancestors are from. Hungary is a breathtaking country, humbly sober and quietly proud.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Author Interview: Sophia White

Today's interview is with Sophia White, author of Jesus is for Everybody. We will have a guest post and a review of her book later in the month, but for now, let's get to know her a little!

Jennifer Walker: What inspired you to write "Jesus is for Everybody"? How did it come about?

Sophia White
: I was inspired to write this book to explain the simplicity of Christ to everyone, especially new believers. Some people accept faith and then find it hard to sustain based on various contradictions demonstrated by organized religion. Through illustrations and analogies, I want to help people comprehend the consistency of God's message and be able to conclude for one's self that the scriptural recordings are more a matter of fact than individual interpretation. My faith has always been based in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but as life progressed I started to intellectually comprehend our connection with God. It's obvious that the world is governed by a force more dominant than basic behavior and establishing separate denominations is a blatant contradiction to faith in Jesus Christ. Believers are considered member of one body and for some strange reason, the church has separated itself, but the time has come to open up the dialogue and discuss the truth according to the gospels.

Writing this book was never a long term goal. The thought gradually became a reality as did the foundation for my belief in Jesus. On many occasions, I was encouraged by friends to write, but it never dawned upon me what I could offer. Then one day I began to focus on how people are suffering due to a basic lack of knowledge about God and our origin. It is impossible to have a relationship with God without communication, and Jesus is the facilitator. Some believers contribute to religious organizations that blatantly disregard the teaching of Jesus Christ. The scriptures explain clearly what's going on today and I'm motivated to help people comprehend it more easily. The book is written to allow a person to make a more informed decision about faith in God and what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.

Some believers feel isolated in ministry as most churches are now primarily focused on the business which is more about fund raising instead of fellowship for God. Many Pastors practice various techniques including joking, funny stories, and demonstrations all designed to keep the congregation engaged. Church reputations are now based on good preaching and the music ministry. Throughout the sermon, congregations laugh and clap with the same emotions illustrated during secular events. The whole concept saddens me. In some churches, tithes and offerings are synonymous to a cover charge for admission.

I once viewed church as a refreshing get away and a chance to be surrounded by a different kind of people, but it's not that way anymore. After being a member of so many churches and a part of various discussions, it became obvious that some believers have derived faith from bits and pieces of text. Many go to church for mere status. By including the scriptural references by topic, I am hoping to help build an understanding of the basics.

Jennifer Walker: You say this book is not about religion, but about life. What do you mean by that?

Sophia White
: When I make the statement "This book is about life and not religion," my intention is to set precedence about the content of the book as a way of life instead of a set of religious principles. Jesus came to deliver us from the burdens of life and show humanity the definition of righteousness in light of our flesh limitations. This book is about understanding how to build a personal relationship with God based on the teachings of Jesus Christ associated with common knowledge. The bible explains how the wisdom of man is foolishness in God's eyes, and I believe God chose me to teach people how to comprehend this in everyday terms. God is truth and truth is God. My life has been filled with varying difficulties to allow me to absorb the basic knowledge of scripture as it relates to real life struggles.

This is not about me or my commentary at the beginning of each chapter. This is about removing the confusion derived from the representation of churches today. Even mature believers have a difficult time understanding God based on what is being taught so this book contains a listing of scriptures organized for the reader to make an informed decision in conjunction to listening to a religious leaders. I've witnessed ministers preach an hour and only use two or three verses of scripture. Mega churches accumulate members and present the same information from the same book over and over again. How long until believers start to feel empty and unfulfilled? In some cases, the interpretation is used solely for selfish gain. God doesn't need our money. He knows how to orchestrate His needs on earth without our permission. My goal is to provide insight into the way of life that leads to the Kingdom of God as illustrated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ after organized religion crucified Him. Many church leaders have become no more than motivational speaker. This book will place the sacrifice of Jesus Christ into its proper perspective.

When God sent His son to show us how things are and will be to come, humanity reacted as expected. God sacrificed His son to show us our natural state, which should lead to remorse and repentance. The basic nature of humanity is self preservation, the first law of nature. God wants us to repent of our ways by seeing that our nature rejected His son when He lived among us. His death was the ultimate sacrifice for believers. It is sad to know that human hands have the will to crucify our creator instead of embracing His teachings.

Our relationship with God is based in our acknowledgement of how Jesus was born to pay the ultimate price for our sins. I find the Holy Trinity as the spiritual basis for connecting the dots intellectually. God revealed His power to humanity through His son our Lord and Savior. After the Resurrection, Jesus left us a Comforter; the Holy Spirit empowered to guide us from the heavenly realm. Our existence is described in the Revelation of God's plan unfolding. We are taught that Jesus is the word made man and the definition of the word is communication with God. Jesus is the man in which those words were given life. When we pray to God, we pray in the name of Jesus since He is our representative.

Jennifer Walker: What do you think this book has to offer for people who are either not particularly religious or who are uncomfortable with organized religion?

Sophia White
: My primary goal is to help those who are not religious or somewhat uncomfortable with organized religion. Christianity was intended to be a subculture within the everyday secular world. God did not send His son to teach humanity about religion. Jesus came to fulfill religious prophesy. He came to separate the rituals of religious tradition from matters of the heart. This allows believers to embrace a more abundant life than what the world offers.

Although I grew up in the church, I have relocated several times for my profession and it has been extremely hard to find a comfortable place to fellowship. Over the years, I have moved from one congregation to another only to realize that most are fundamentally the same. As time went on, I realized that the bible teaches ways that are not practiced by the mere dedication to a particular church. The church is in the people. As individuals, we are the church. The early church came together as one. They were supportive to one another in all walks of life. As I've recently drifted from visiting one church to another, my heart is aching about what I'm witnessing firsthand.

God has designed a path for believers to develop an ongoing relationship with Him that promises abundant life. We must first embrace ourselves to accept the truth about our nature. In short, humanity crucified of our Lord. God showed us that our human behavior will naturally reject His word and in the end, we actually crucified God's word in the form of Jesus with human hands. That act establishes acceptance of the need for humanity to reconcile with God. The ultimate sacrifice is that God sent His son to communicate with us in the flesh and establish a final covenant with those who truly want to know Him. The relationship between God and humanity existed from the beginning of time, and history documents the difficulties we have experienced over the years. Our only means of security is placing our trust in God driven the guidance of our Lord and Savior.

Based on the need to establish separate denominations, Christians as a whole are not representing Christ anymore. Non believer are critical of Christians for obvious reasons. This is not about attending church. Faith in Jesus Christ is about a whole new way of life. Organized religion was the basis for His crucifixion. The formula Jesus taught does not work with enormous spending budgets and elaborate operating expenses. Building massive structures to house fancy furnishing in the name of God has no correlation with faith in Jesus Christ. When God sent His son to teach us who we are and our need to repent, it was to give everyone an opportunity to assess our current state and be delivered from our sins.

Jennifer Walker: What is your background--schooling, experience, etc--that qualifies you to write Jesus is for Everybody?

Sophia White
: I graduated from the University of Kentucky and majored in Business Education. Since 1985, I've experienced a series of professional relocations that eventually landed me in Washington DC. I have been able to meet many fascinating people and exchanging ideas has been the highlight of my life. The accounting aspect of my job has taught me to seek an intellectual understanding for everything, including spiritual forces. Over the years, God gave me a mission to share my awareness.

I was around 25 when starting my personal relationship with God. I began a constant prayer life of getting down on my knees each and every day. I do it whether I feel good or not. No matter the circumstances, I will find a private place to bow down and pray. Although I was baptized and attended church very young, at that time I only knew God through the teachings of others. My faith has always been based in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but as life progressed I started to intellectually comprehend our connection with God. He has allowed me to persevere through many difficult struggles, so it is a privilege to share my personal relationship journey.

I am not a bible scholar nor did I study theology. I am just a strong believer in Christ who has been given an analogy of His word to share with those who want know more. For a long time, I have testified to His word with boldness regardless of the consequences. My faith in Jesus started when I was baptized at age nine and taught to believe that God sent His only son into the world to save us from our sins. Of course I had no idea what that really meant, but something inside kept me believing and actively participating in church activities. It was fun.

Early in life I was determined to make a difference so I never hesitate to confront the power structure regarding situations of fairness, especially work place inequality. As time went on, it became obvious that the world is governed by a force more dominant than basic behavior. In the meantime, I always prayed to God through Jesus for the insight to understand His word. Many times I would ask God for wisdom in the Spirit and to be mounted up on wings like an eagle to soar above this world. After years of praying for these gifts, through all of my highs and lows, God slowly began revealing basic truths to me.

I am not a professional writer. I write management reports and document work papers required to conduct control assessments for audit purposes. As a believer, I have a primary mission to introduce Christ to the world. We should be ready to express our ministry of salvation more clearly. I pray that this book brings much insight and establish a stronger bond of togetherness. As many already know, God's message is fact and not left to human opinion and we should discontinue blaming one another for acts performed by religious groups in the past. The content of this material is not meant to be complicated or complex. The chapters are entitled using basic concepts we associate with life. The detailed scriptures are formatted to bring life to individual experiences. People are becoming more and more intense about grounding their life with something worthwhile, and I am excited about the opportunity to explain the simple terms in which God continues to work within our daily lives.

The world has taught me to think in terms of logic, which is why I desire to help people see clearly how Jesus was sent by God to save everyone. Since my entire adult life has been focused on servicing corporations, I am deeply honored to have permission to minister for Jesus in this way. In preparation for the manuscript, God gave me extensive time to re-read the scriptures and organize them in a manner that would express distinction. Once the reader has completed the book, he/she will be much better equipped to decide whether they believe in Jesus as the son of God or not.

Jennifer Walker: Did you learn anything or experience anything remarkable during the writing of this book?

Sophia White
: While writing this book, I learned how God worked in every aspect of my daily life to make circumstances come together right in the nick of time.

There were thoughts that came to my mind out of nowhere and no matter how hard I tried to procrastinate and say to myself, I'll write it down later, there was an unforeseen force that would encourage me to get up right then and get my thoughts on paper. By the time I was performing my second round of edits, I decided that I would not submit the revisions until I felt there were no more thoughts pushing me to write them down.

Over the past few years, my life has been evolving. As I worked on the manuscript, I was also soliciting new clients for my independent consulting business. No matter how grim the situation seemed, God would always send a new client in the nick of time while allowing me enough time for freedom of thought.

When I wrote the chapter on family, I questioned many single Christians about ideas on sex before marriage. What I concluded is that many Christians think in the same manner as the secular community about approaching relationships. I was stunned at how many single Christians are involved with sexual intercourse on a frequent basis outside of marriage. Most were extremely defensive and did not appear to understand how the implications of sex outside of marriage are much bigger than what lies on the surface.

During the period in which I wrote the book, I felt that the Holy Spirit was allowing me to see how the core of civilization is being plagued with sexual promiscuity therefore I concluded that a woman's right to choose ends when she decides to participate in sexual intercourse, and as a result, abortions belong in family court. Other than physical force, people have the power to accept or reject sexual advances. This is not about two consenting adults. Once a child is conceived the process should be viewed as a family matter at large. I began to understand how abortions are more so a medical decision that should be evaluated and approved by family members of the unborn child. This ensures his/her interest is thoroughly considered.

Instead of viewing sexual relations with the sensitivity in which it was designed, some minds have become confused and consumed with perversion without recognizing the byproduct related to our culture as a whole. Since writing this book, God has shown me that women are the core of these issues whether associated with companionship or developing a healthy mindset in children.

God also showed me how so many Christians are focusing on homosexuality as the primary sexual sin when in fact sexual sin is sexual sin no matter what genders are involved. What about adultery and fornication? Most Christians are not willing to talk about that too much. It is easier to emphasize the sexual concerns associated with a minority instead of the vast majority. While writing this book, one morning I woke up and realized that a person's sex is related to their gender not an act. This is the bottom line to understanding sexual intercourse overall. We cannot choose our sex organs given at birth, but we can choose how or whether we use them. Utilizing our sexual organs for sexual pleasure is not a prerequisite to life. Sexual feelings are a mere byproduct that leads to sexual preferences.

While writing this book, I started to witness how several children are in serious jeopardy since sexual freedom is being taken out of context. As I sought new learning, I began to understand how life starts off a bit awkward for little boys and girls to interact. In early childhood, he/she would much rather remain in their comfort zone which includes those of the same sex. This is why boys can better identify with boys and girls can better identify with girls. For that reason alone, some children are choosing to experience same sex relationships in their early years. Children are easily confused when their understanding of sex is not well grounded. Some of these children are merely experimenting, which can result in a major life altering event. A child's mind cannot effectively process such choices until their experiences dictate an overall understanding. God has shown me that no matter how we choose to mate or build a family, we are unable to circumvent His human design.

Jennifer Walker: How did you come up with the format for the book?

Sophia White
: The format of this book is designed to make it usable as a biblical reference tool. Although I've written a commentary at the beginning of each chapter, it is framed to invoke the thought process of why we believe in God and the basis for that belief. The volume of scriptures should remove any doubt or questions about inconsistencies.

The Introduction is written to explain the purpose of the book and why I believe God groomed me to write it. For new believers and people unfamiliar with the Bible, I wanted to layout a simple background and information for future use. The Introduction also includes a reference to a magnificent website which contains the bible in many translations and languages. Deciding on the sections and associated chapters was finalized over an extended period of time. Initially I began to determine which categories would best align with teaching life according to scripture. Each morning I would wake up with another idea on how best to simplify the message until I felt comfortable with the final version.

The first section is about God which lays the framework for understanding a higher power. The Holy Trinity defines God as three distinct entities: the father, son and spirit. This section also includes scriptures regarding Heaven to provide a vision of where the Bible indicates God resides. The second section is about faith. I break down the basis for faith as our belief system and desire to know God. The chapters on prayer and love define how we practice faith in God according to the teachings of Jesus. The third section is about church which allows a deeper understanding of ministry according to the scriptures verses what we witness in television evangelism. Jesus taught specific guidance for ministry and giving is the selfless act designed to demonstrate our concern for one another. The fourth section on the world illustrates how humanity is governed. Once we understand governance as the definition of life, we can better under the power of God's intervention. What we see on the surface doesn't explain how life transpires. We are given hope through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Governance, Family, ways and money are primary components used to survive. Governance breaks down the different levels of authority, family is the origin of individuals and our ways demonstrate what we believe. In governance I also discuss the implications of abortions and other sensitive issues facing believers today. Money is described as our sophisticated bartering system designed to promote survival conducive to functioning in a civilized society. The fifth section on Wisdom explains why the bible is our source of insight on matters of origin and future expectations. Knowledge in where wisdom is attained. True wisdom comes from God. The bible explains that the wisdom of man is foolish in God's eyes. Understanding God starts with the knowledge of His existence and faith comes by hearing, not by reading. When a person hears the word of God, his/her wisdom to attain faith is empowered by God and God alone. The chapter about the Old Testament is to bridge a gap between biblical law and the teachings of Jesus. The chapter on last days is solely about recognizing the signs of our time and clearly explains the situations we face today with churches, relationships, children, sin and a host of others.

I conclude by providing insight on how to get to know God through accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I pray deeply that the truth illustrated will challenge religious leaders to align their mission with the teaching of Jesus associated with one body in Christ. The conclusion contains simple guidance in accepting Jesus without anyone else involved. By the end of the book, the reader will be able to determine whether to believe Jesus was indeed born and crucified as our pathway to building a relationship with God.

The references are listed in the appendix to allow the reader to verify the exact biblical location. The appendix also contains a description of each book of the New Testament to explain its origin and suspected author.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?

Sophia White
: Discussing this book with my family and friends is difficult.

The funny part is that most Christians I know are not interested in discussing topics surrounding the common sense aspects of Jesus, but instead, change the topic to reiterate points they are most comfortable with. I find it rather peculiar that many Christians have not embraced the true teachings of Christ, but rather nitpick certain behaviors as more sinful than others which tend to emphasize their own subjective point of view.

My mom attends Church on a regular basis and I've attempted to discuss my book with her only to receive minimal interaction and response. I get the impression that the reigns are so tight within the Christian community that some refuse to think outside of organized religion. My mother is one of those people. At one time, my mom and I shared a special connection in fellowship, but when I began introducing certain scriptures to gain clarity, our relationship started to dwindle. At some point, I decided to cease burdening her with my ideas and now the content of our conversations are kept within limits. It has been extremely hard to accept, but no matter what, she is still my mother.

Due to various circumstances, I have not spoken to other family members since writing the book.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about you. What is your day job? Do you have any hobbies? Pets?

Sophia White
: I am a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) with over 20 years experience managing and conducting audits and consulting reviews for clients in compliance with the Sarbanes Oxley Act, the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) and the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Tread way Commission (COSO). Professional expertise includes business process reviews, internal operational audits, information technology (IT) audits, accounting financial statement integrated audits, and SAS70 Type I/II. I establish a company-wide approach to best practices, assist with implementing key control activities, and prescribe mechanisms to help identify and prevent compromise of policies and the misuse of resources by defining methods to protect the reputation of the company and provide insight for compliance to satisfy legal and ethical responsibilities.

I spend most of my free time at the fitness center. Depending on the day, the time allocation will vary. My goal is to work out at least four times a week, but it's not always possible.

I am sincere and supportive. When I really care for someone, there is nothing anyone can say about that person that will make the least bit of difference. I love to cook, read and spend time talking with my friends. I am an introvert with extrovert tendencies. Specifically, I spend most of my time alone but I also love being with people.

The name "Sophia" is derived from σοφία, the Greek word for wisdom. I have made it my goal to share the divine wisdom and inspiration God provides me with the entire world to revitalize the Christian community in the love and mercy of God. Although Sophia is my given name, Sophia is also "a universal figure, representing wisdom, femininity, motherhood and sexuality" as indicated by Dr. Suzanne Schaup in her book entitled "Sophia" written especially for women with a Christian background, interested in expanding our quest for spiritual wholeness. If my teachings represent a mere fraction of "Sophia" it can only be contributed to the grace of an Almighty God.

Jennifer Walker: What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your life so far?

Sophia White
: My greatest accomplishment so far is having a comfortable and healthy life at age 47. Considering everything I've experienced, I am blessed to still be here.

My greatest worldly accomplishment was obtaining a college degree from the University of Kentucky which laid the groundwork to live and travel various places throughout my professional career. The combination of my life experiences and educational preparation has afforded me a skill set to achieve my desired accomplishment. My overall objective is to work for God. As time goes on my vision continues to grow. I imagine my greatest accomplishment will be to help awaken those who need to know God and stop practicing church based on status quo.

Jennifer Walker: If you could meet any person, living or dead, for lunch, who would it be?

Sophia White
: If I could meet any person, living or dead, for lunch it would be our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He challenged the approach of religious leaders and offered His life as a ransom to save everyone as a means to a more abundant life. His demonstrated the ultimate act of love. Religion is our human desire to worship a higher power, the Creator, the origin of our existence. Jesus spoke with clarity and captivated the attention of truth seekers. In the end, His followers fled due to legal consequences.

I would love to meet someone focused on persuading believers to disband Christian denominations and focus on a means of building a connection with all members of the body of Christ. Other than that, it would be nice to have lunch with anyone who loves God and truly love their neighbor like they love themselves. At the moment, I don't know anyone like that.