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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)

TITLE: Denied but Not Defeated
By Kellie Henningsen


I’m not a writer. Well…I can’t say that. I tend to write a little for close friends and family. But, that’s it. I’ve never thought about writing, about learning what makes good writing, or about becoming an author. I’m a janitor and a handyman and this… is my story.

A few years ago, my wife sprung an idea on me. “Paul, you should write your testimony down for our kids,” she had said with conviction. “Your bold writing would give them much to think about.” Kim rubbed my back that night while speaking to my heart. I knew I should write but with working long hours during the day and trying to be a good father to our six children at night, when would I find the time?

To this rebuttal, Kim had quickly countered, “Let’s set a deadline. You could make it a Christmas gift for the kids.” She had smiled while envisioning a four or five page letter being presented to the children on Christmas morning. Surely, she thought, I could cough that out in the time she had given me.

She should have known me better. A four or five page letter was never on the horizon. I am an out of the box guy so once I decided I would write, I wasted no time tapping into my creative side. I figured Jesus knew the power of parables in conveying truths so I would follow His example. I decided to write a modern day parable with a life metaphor at the center of it. I had no concern for proper writing protocol. I just wanted to share what God was laying on my heart.

I worked hard during the days, spent time with the family in the evenings, and then wrote into the late night hours. As a missionary and pastor’s kid, life had presented me with a varied childhood in many different ways. It had not been easy. Trusting God ended up being a lesson I learned the hard way.

Oh man, I wrote hard. I didn’t make the deadline though. Shortly after Christmas, I finally wrapped up my nearly 250 page story. I prayed my kids would understand what I was telling them. To show my children a loving God who deeply desires to guide them through life was my only goal.

So, off to Kinkos I went with my manuscript. I guess you could call it that. I never thought of it that way but that’s what it was. I spent a ton of money getting fifteen copies of my book made and bound with those plastic spiral bindings.

I gave these copies to my children and a few close friends who read them and then quickly passed them on to others. I was surprised when I began getting requests for more copies. I was told there was a larger audience for what I had written and would I consider getting it published.

I thought they were all crazy, but I did send a copy to a trusted friend and asked for his honest opinion. After reading it, he began to encourage me to pursue publishing the book. We worked together on the manuscript for sixteen months taking it through four rewrites before we agreed it was ready to be presented to publishers.

The Christian publishers, however, thought my manuscript was too edgy and controversial. They wanted me to tone down my angle and rework the writing. The secular publishers, on the other hand, thought it was far too Christian to be of interest to them. No one picked up the publishing of my book.

While we were shaken, we were not defeated. The only thing to do was to start our own publishing company. So $15,000 later, Windblown Media was born and with it the publication of my book, “The Shack.”

What others turned away, God chose to bless abundantly. My children’s gift went on to make it to the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller list for seventy weeks. There are currently over seven million copies in print. Lives are being changed. People are hearing the message.

God is good,
Paul Young

The details for this story were found on the following website:

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Member Comments
Member Date
Francy Judge 05/08/10
Wow! What an ecouraging story and testimony. Now I want to read your book.
Beth LaBuff 05/11/10
Wow, what an amazing story. I think the wife knew that a few pages would turn into many. (I loved that detail. :) )