by Chuck Colson
Imagine you?re a struggling fiction writer. You?ve written six
novels and some short stories, but so far nothing has hit the bestseller
lists. Then one day the phone rings. It?s Oprah Winfrey! She says your
book has been selected for her Book Club, which you know means overnight
fame and best-seller status. You shout for joy?and then wake up to find
it was all a dream.
But for Bret Lott, who recently published a novel, it was no dream. And
it provided him far more than worldly success: It gave him a tremendous
opportunity to speak God?s truth to millions.
Lott?s novel is titled Jewel for its main character, Jewel
Hilburn, who lives on a Mississippi farm in the 1940?s with her husband,
Leston, and their five children.
At age 40, Jewel is overjoyed to learn that she?s going to have
another child. But a friend delivers an ominous prophecy, telling Jewel
that the baby will be a great test in her life.
A few months after the baby?s birth, a doctor diagnoses Down?s
Syndrome, predicting that the child will not live beyond the age of two.
He tells Jewel to put the baby in an institution.
Jewel refuses to accept the doctor?s advice and instead takes the
baby home. Over the years, sacrificing her own life to care for this
child, Jewel learns that the greatest of burdens can bring the greatest of
In this novel Lott has created what one critic calls "one of the
finest, most indomitable heroines in contemporary American fiction."
However, Jewel isn?t completely fiction. The story is based on
the life of Lott?s grandmother, who raised a Down?s Syndrome daughter
in Mississippi in the 1940s.
After Oprah selected the book as her "best read of the year,"
Jewel quickly shot to number four on the New York Times best-seller
list. And when Lott appeared on Winfrey?s program, they had a long
discussion about the book?s Christian and prolife themes.
How did this happen? How did a prolife book make it past our cultural
gatekeepers who usually have such contempt for the prolife viewpoint?
The key lies in a truth C.S. Lewis once pointed out: The world needs
not more books about Christianity, but books by Christians on other
subjects with a Christian worldview woven into them.
And Lott is doing precisely that. He?s writing stories about real
people undergoing real struggles with God?s help.
He?s not writing for a Christian audience in the predictable
evangelical format. He?s writing great stories. Yet, his books are
profoundly Christian. As he put it, his characters "must accommodate
themselves to what has been given to them, to God?s will."
By "flying under the radar" of the secular cultural elite?s,
so to speak, Lott has introduced millions of people to a prolife message
they might never have heard otherwise.
Why don?t you buy a copy of Jewel, and share it with an
unsaved friend. It may give you the opening you?ve been looking for, for
a serious discussion about faith.
And if you?re an aspiring Christian writer, keep in mind Bret Lott?s
philosophy for writing great books. Remember, there?s something even
better than writing a best seller?and that?s writing a best seller
that points readers to the Author of the universe.