The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca N. Alonzo (with Robert Moss) captured my attention immediately because, as a family in ministry, we've experienced some devilish behaviors from pew warmers ourselves. This story, however, is completely different from what I expected. The severity of the persecution that this family endured is nightmarish and makes my own experiences seem like harmless pranks by preschoolers. This very detailed glimpse into Rebecca's childhood is heartbreaking and yet the story of forgiveness modeled to her by her parents is admirable. It's a shame that things like this happen in churches, where it's supposed to be a safe place, but people are human and they tend to do human things. This book was hard to put down and harder still to continue reading. It made me cry and it made me remember our own personal "devils". The lesson of forgiveness made me look inside my heart to see if I've truly forgiven those who've done us wrong. Through this story I also realized that while we need to forgive we don't need to forget and that we can help others by sharing our stories.
About the book:
Rebecca never felt safe as a child. In 1969, her father, Robert Nichols, moved to Sellerstown, North Carolina, to serve as a pastor. There he found a small community eager to welcome him—with one exception. Glaring at him from pew number seven was a man obsessed with controlling the church. Determined to get rid of anyone who stood in his way, he unleashed a plan of terror that was more devastating and violent than the Nichols family could have ever imagined. Refusing to be driven away by acts of intimidation, Rebecca’s father stood his ground until one night when an armed man walked into the family’s kitchen . . . and Rebecca’s life was shattered. If anyone had a reason to harbor hatred and seek personal revenge, it would be Rebecca. Yet The Devil in Pew Number Seven tells a different story. It is the amazing true saga of relentless persecution, one family’s faith and courage in the face of it, and a daughter whose parents taught her the power of forgiveness.
Watch a video trailer of this book here.
Watch a 30 minute interview with Rebecca here where she shares a lot of her story. You'll have to turn up the volume because the sound isn't the best.
This book provided for review by Tyndale