It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***
Vanessa Miller of Dayton, Ohio is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. She started writing as a child, spending countless hours either reading or writing poetry, short stories, stage plays and novels. Vanessa’s creative endeavors took on new meaning in 1994 when she gave her life to Jesus. Since then, she’s focused on themes of redemption, often using characters caught up in struggles common to contemporary culture. Readers and critics alike have responded with overwhelming affirmation. Vanessa’s novels have topped the Essence Magazine’s Bestseller’s Lists, and received numerous awards, including “Best Christian Fiction Mahogany Award” and the “Red Rose Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction.”. Her work has also been nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Christian Fiction and as the Black Expressions Book Club Alternate Selection for the past three years.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 6, 2010)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
This book is dedicated to all the women who have ever struggled to preach the gospel.
Know that God hasn’t forgotten your labor of love. I salute you.
Standing before the congregation of Omega Christian Church, Melinda Johnson preached a message on God’s precious gift of salvation. Her mission in life was to tell as many people as possible about a Man named Jesus. Preaching the gospel had become her greatest joy. “Don’t wait until it’s too late,” she told the congregation. “The Lord Jesus wants to fellowship with you right now. He loves you and desires only good things for you.”
Melinda continued in that vein until her voice cracked and tears ran down her cocoa-cream face. She never tired of talking about God’s ability to do the impossible, or how He could take nothing and make something miraculous out of it. She usually avoided making public displays of emotion, but this message was more important than her image. As the tears continued to fall, she gave an altar call and watched as dozens of men and women left their seats and rushed toward the front of the sanctuary. Repentant souls stood around the altar weeping as they raised their hands in surrender to God. Melinda prayed to God on behalf of each and every one of them.
After the service, Melinda stood by the sanctuary door and shook hands with most of the people as they left the church. This was something that her father, Bishop Langston Johnson, always did. Since he couldn’t be there today, Melinda wanted to make sure the job was still done.
“Thanks for your wonderful message, Sister Melinda,” Janet Hillman said on her way out. “My son was one of the people who came down to the altar today.”
For the past three years, Janet had spent her lunch hours in noonday prayer on behalf of her son. Having joined her on numerous occasions, Melinda was aware of the addictions and incarcerations that Janet’s son had been through. However, Janet had kept the faith—she’d kept believing that her son would one day serve the Lord.
Melinda beamed. “You prayed him through, Janet. I should give you my prayer list, because I know you’ll stay on the job until it’s done.”
When Janet walked away, Bob Helms, the head elder, came up to Melinda and said, “You brought down the house with that sermon.”
“Thank you, sir, but I can’t take credit. That message was God-given,” Melinda said. After a short pause, she asked, “Do you know why the elders weren’t at prayer this morning?” The church leaders met for prayer on the first Sunday of every month, but Melinda had noticed that none of the elders had been in attendance that morning.
“Your father had asked that all the elders meet with him this morning,” Elder Helms told her.
“Oh,” was all Melinda said. She had been with her father the night before, and he hadn’t mentioned anything about meeting with the elders in the morning. The situation seemed odd to her because she had always been included in his meetings with the elders. Moreover, it was essentially understood by the entire church leadership that Melinda would assume her father’s position once he retired. Right now, her father was in the hospital, recuperating from what he’d thought had been a heart attack. Now that Melinda thought about it, he had been given strict instructions to rest, which probably explained why he hadn’t told her about the meeting. He knew that she wouldn’t want him worrying about church business right now.
Elder Helms interrupted her thoughts. “The Bishop did tell me to make sure that you left church right after preaching the message, Melinda. He wants to see you immediately.”
It seemed like Elder Helms knew something Melinda didn’t, and it scared her. “Did something happen to Dad this morning?”
Shaking his head, Elder Helms reassured her, “No, no. Nothing like that. The Bishop is doing fine. He just wants to see you.”
“Thanks for letting me know, Elder Helms,” she said. “I’ll head over there now.”
Anxious to see her father and make sure he was all right, Melinda rushed down the hospital corridor that led to his room. He had been admitted to the hospital three days prior, complaining of chest pains. After several tests, the doctor had confirmed that no sign of a heart attack had been detected. Melinda was thankful that her father was recuperating and doing well. She was also excited to tell him about some wonderful, unexpected news she had received that morning.
Her father’s eyes were closed when Melinda walked into his hospital room. As she approached his bed, she noticed for the first time that his hair was no longer salt-and-pepper but completely white. The wrinkles beneath his eyes, which had long made him look distinguished, were now more pronounced and distracting. When did all of this happen? Melinda wondered as she picked up her father’s frail hand and pressed it to her cheek.
Bishop Johnson’s eyes fluttered as he turned toward his daughter. “Hey, baby girl. When’d you get here?”
“Just a few minutes ago. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get here earlier.”
“You had to handle my responsibilities at the church. Don’t worry about it. I had plenty of visitors this morning.”
Melinda sat down in the chair next to her father’s bed and hung her purse on the arm of the chair. “I have some good news, Daddy. I’ve been asked to speak at the Women on the Move for God conference in August!”
“That’s great, baby girl! But I have even better news.”
Melinda raised her eyebrows. “What, the doctor gave you a clean bill of health and said that you’ll live to be a hundred?”
Bishop Johnson shook his head and then blurted out, “I found you a husband.”
“Excuse me?” Melinda said in as even a tone as she could manage. After all, she was a thirty-seven-year-old woman living in the twenty-first century. Fathers didn’t go out and find husbands for their daughters in this day and age. “Please tell me you’re joking, Daddy.”
“No joke to it,” Bishop Johnson said as he hoisted himself into an upright position. “I’m an old man, Melinda. I haven’t got many years left. I’d like to see at least one of my grandchildren before I die, you know?”
Melinda couldn’t deny that her father was showing signs of aging. But that didn’t mean death would sneak into his hospital room and suck out his last breath while she stood there and watched. “You talk as if you’ll die tomorrow.”
“I could. The next heart attack could be my last.”
Melinda rolled her eyes. “It was an anxiety attack, Daddy. Stop being such a baby. The doctor says you’re fine.”
Bishop Johnson shook a shaky finger at Melinda. “Now, you listen to me. I’m eighty-two years old. I know what’s best for you, and that’s why I called Steven Marks.”
Melinda bolted out of her chair and moved away from her father’s bed. She put a hand to her mouth and shut her eyes, trying to block out the same feeling of humiliation she’d experienced when Steven had dumped her ten years ago. This has to be some kind of horrible joke, Melinda thought. But her father was a serious man who rarely joked with anyone.
“Calm down. It’s not as bad as you think,” he said. “I didn’t come right out and tell Steven I wanted him to marry you. He’s a smart young man…he’ll come to that decision on his own.”
“Why are you even talking to me about Steven, Daddy? That man walked out on me and married someone else. Do you really think I’d want him back now, just because his wife is dead?”
“Pride goes before destruction, Melinda.”
She really hated it when her father tried to rein her in by quoting Scriptures. “What does being prideful have to do with not wanting to marry a man who rejected me?”
“I have more to tell you. Would you please sit back down?”
Melinda inched back to her seat and slowly settled into it. If this marrying Steven Marks thing was supposed to be a buffer for the rest of her father’s message, then she was truly petrified. She glanced at her father with a look of apprehension.
“This last hospital stay has convinced me that I need to retire.”
Melinda rolled her eyes. “I’ve been telling you for years now to retire. I can pastor Omega, and Pastor Lakes can take over as bishop.”
“Let me finish,” Bishop Johnson said, holding up a hand to silence Melinda. “I know the ministry goals that you have. I also believe that there is a way for you to do God’s will and also have a family. Plus, Steven’s church did not support him during his grieving process. They want him to leave, Melinda. So, after prayerful reflection, I’ve asked him to take over for me as bishop.”
Melinda must not have heard him right. He couldn’t have just said that Steven Marks—the man who’d called off their wedding because she’d refused to give up her dreams of preaching the gospel—was going to be the new bishop of Omega Christian Church. In Melinda’s mind, this could mean only one thing: her sin had finally caught up with her.
This novel is a work of fiction. References to real events, organizations, or places are used in a fictional context. Any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.
All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version, © 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Book One in the Second Chance at Love Series
Printed in the United States of America
© 2010 by Vanessa Miller
1030 Hunt Valley Circle
New Kensington, PA 15068
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Yesterday’s promise / by Vanessa Miller.
p. cm. — (Second chance at love ; bk. 1)
Summary: “When Melinda Johnson’s father, the bishop of Omega Christian Church, goes back on his word and appoints her ex-fiancé, Steven Marks, as his successor instead of her, Melinda must decide whether to pursue her call to preach elsewhere or to stay at Omega and rekindle a relationship with Steven—even though he opposes female pastors”—Provided by publisher.
ISBN 978-1-60374-207-8 (trade pbk.)
1. African American churches—Fiction. I. Title.
I was really pleased with this book. This is a new author for me and she definitely has a wonderful talent of writing for God, and spreading His message. Vanessa Miller really captured my heart with the characters she turned out in this book. I immediately felt a pull to Melinda and her struggles, and as I read on, sweet Brianna came into the picture and I felt another immediate pull to her, too. The messages that Ms. Miller sends through this book, of relying on God, of letting go, forgiving the past,and second chances, is just truly amazing. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, but especially to those of you out there who need a gentle reminder that it’s okay to forgive, and move on, and to even find a second chance at happiness and rely on God. A most definite 5 star book and author! Well done!
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