'God Prepared Me for This': Interview with Jerry Jenkins
Jerry Jenkins talks about how Left Behind has changed his life.
BY: Interview by Paul O'Donnell
How has the series changed your relationship with the Lord?
I feel the accountability and stewardship pressures of both the resources and the visibility. If anything, because it has happened over the last few years--I'm 54 now--it has, if anything, humbled me. That might not have been the case 20 years ago. I want to finish well.
Do you consider yourself anointed or tasked by God to write these books?
I can't say I've felt particularly anointed or tasked, but in a strange way I do feel God prepared me for this. This is not false humility, but there have been times when I wondered why He didn't choose a better writer if He was going to pour out His blessing on a series like this. But I was raised in this tradition, knew this story, believed it, studied it, spent decades in the writing trenches, and even the way I was raised allowed me to interact with respect and deference to Dr. LaHaye. It's just been an incredible ride, and who knows, we may try something like it again soon.
You're in an enviable position, with almost complete freedom to write what you want. Is there anything you'd like to write but feel you couldn't get away with it?
I have a novel burning in me, but don't even consider that I wouldn't get away with it. Book two of my Soon trilogy, "Silenced," comes out in July. Down the road, I can't wait to get to the one I have in mind.
Some say Left Behind has bred an expectation that catastrophic events are leading to a better world, not a worse one. Do you agree?
That type of an assessment comes from someone who has not read the books but thinks he or she knows what's in them. The first chapter of the first book begins with the Rapture, which ushers in a seven-year period of tribulation that will be the absolute worst time in history. Our message is that we are coming to that time, possibly soon, and no one should want to be left behind to have to experience it. During the Rapture when believers are snatched away from the earth, chaos will ensue, with their cars, trucks, buses and planes crashing, etc. So many unbelievers will die from that alone. Of the people who survive the Rapture, only one in four will remain seven years later.
After that, yes, Christ returns to set up his 1,000-year reign on earth and that will be idyllic, but nothing that's happening now is leading to that. It's leading first to the horrible tribulation period.
You and Dr. LaHaye count among the successes of Left Behind the number of people who have come to Christ after reading one of the books. Has one book this power more than the others?
The first book, primarily. But we have been careful to weave into every book's story what we like to call a believable, reproducible conversion experience that includes a character praying the prayer of faith. People often tell us they prayed that prayer along with the character. Between us, Dr. LaHaye and I have heard personally from more than 3,000 such people.