THE DEBT was one of those rare stories that came to me all in a flash . . . while I was in the shower. More than any of my books, it was a God-thing. I don’t even think I was contracted to write it, but I was contracted to write something, so I called my editor and said that I had this idea that wouldn’t wait. So Ami McConnell gave me the go-ahead to write it, and I sat down and started writing.
My agent sold the idea to Ami with this paragraph: “A successful television minister loses his first love when he becomes more cncerned about following agendas and leading the Christian hordes than listening to the still, small voice of God. His wife, however, measures her ministry by one simple guideline: “Does this show love?”
The actual idea bloomed when I was thinking about the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears (the shower, remember?) And I was thinking about how people who come to the Lord later in life always have these interesting testimonies about all the things Jesus saved them from.
Well, I’m an “older brother.” I accepted Christ when I was six, and knew what it meant, so I never really went off like a prodigal daughter. But oh, there’s enough sin in my life to know that without Him, I’d be a mess. And then I started thinking about all the crusades we Christians go on–about all the things we’re against. And I realized that the world doesn’t care about our “don’t” lists. What they hunger for is love. God’s love. Our love.
And shortly thereafter I was at a Women of Faith event and heard Cece Winans sing “Alabaster Box.” If a book could have a theme song (and I think all of them should), that would be the song for THE DEBT.
And so I created Emma Rose and Abel. The writing was easy for me because I went to a Christian college and I’ve been involved in two mega-church ministries. I didn’t write the book to knock those ministries, because I’ve seen first-hand all the good they do. But I’ve also seen what can happen when Christians become wrapped up in their church world to the extent that they forget about the OTHER world outside those walls.
One of the most memorable lines came from a friend of mine. I was griping about something–probably some man in the news or something–and she said, “Angie, you shouldn’t be surprised when sinners sin.”
That comment rang in my head. Why am I surprised when sinners–me included–sin? The miracle is that we manage to love.
Tomorrow: the research