One Woman’s Spiritual Journey
to the Asbury College Revival
by Rebecca Price Janney
Welcome, Dr. Janney! Congratulations on your latest release. Please tell us a little about this historical fiction book.
“God Has Come to Asbury, Melanie, and He Has Told Me, ‘I Want My Daughter Here.’”
With that message relayed from her friend, Jack, Melanie heads off to the Asbury College campus and a life-changing event. In 1968’s shadows lurked the pain of her cousin “Mac’s” death in the Tet Offensive, her widowed father’s departure on the presidential campaign trail, and Melanie’s residence with a glacial grandmother. A ray of hope becomes a blazing fire when she discovers and campaigns for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who seems to be the only one who can mend a nation fractured by racial tension and war. But life has a way of surprising us—and altering our plans. Melanie learns many lessons along the way, including the greatest one of all.
The events of fifty years ago have never shone more clearly nor provided so much hope. As a 1960s singing group put it, sometimes it’s darkest just before dawn. Readers will join Melanie and Jack on their journey to the Asbury College Revival, a “love-in” that spread throughout the nation—and is still impacting lives. America needs this story-for such a time as this.
What do you hope readers take away from this?
This story of revival has captured my imagination since I first heard about during a trip to Asbury in 1995. The way God “broke in” during a time of national turbulence has never left me, and I felt compelled to share what He did so others could always have hope that He is with us, working out His plans for His creation.
My desire is that all who read Sweet Sweet Spirit will be touched by His mighty hand.
What do we need to know about the characters in the story?
Melanie McKnight is looking for a hero. She’s burdened by the loss of her mother and grandfather, and now her father is growing more and more emotionally and physically distant. The nation is seething with unrest during the pivotal year of 1968, and she thinks the only one who can save it, and give her hope, is Bobby Kennedy. When he’s assassinated, she’s heartbroken, wondering where to turn. Loss has left her shaken, wondering whether God even cares anymore. Dare she ever hope again?
When her night is darkest, when the nation’s light seems to have gone out, God breaks through.
~~ Sample ~~
Melanie gazed at her cousin Mac’s photo nestled among other family portraits, biting her lip to staunch her tears. Her cousin looked handsome and rugged in his olive green fatigues and crew cut, which he’d worn with great pride at his farewell party back in November, the one she’d missed.
Shadows from her grandmother’s votive candles leaped over the picture like a danse macabre, the church-like atmosphere in strong contrast to the dining room down the hall where her grandfather’s portable TV blared. The only McKnight not to have been raised Roman Catholic, still she found a measure of peace in her grandmother’s do-it-yourself shrine marking feasts and saints’ days. They seemed to her a portal to knowing God. Even with her Sunday school upbringing, Melanie hadn’t a clue how a person could actually know God. Maybe a person had to be a saint or, at least, really upstanding. Certainly not herself. None of her own prayers had done a bit of good to save Mac’s life. What if God doesn’t care about us? What if he made the world and stepped aside, and we’re on our own here? She shuddered.
“There you are.” Her father’s famous baritone startled her. He flipped on a light switch muttering, “It’s so depressing in here. Why are you avoiding your family?”
Melanie’s eyes took a moment to adjust to the sudden brightness and intrusion. And why does he keep forgetting I’m seventeen, not seven? “I just don’t feel like talking to anyone.” She inclined her head toward Mac’s photo, hoping her father would pick up her cue.
His tone softened. A little. “You were thinking about him.”
She couldn’t tell if his words were a question or an accusation. She proceeded with caution. “I’m just missing him, Dad. Don’t you think it’s weird nobody talks about him?”
The same thing had happened when her mother died.
Cliff McKnight moved a step closer to the picture, winced, and backed away as if he’d found himself at the edge of a sheer drop. Melanie took in her father’s expression, then looked back at the photo of his wedding portrait next to Mac’s picture.
“Dwelling on what happened doesn’t bring back the dead.”
“I’d just like to say his name or something.”
“Don’t.” A muscle twitched over his right eye.
“Aunt Eileen and Uncle Al just act like nothing ever happened to their son. That can’t be right.”
“You would only cause hurt feelings.”
And what about my feelings? This whole visit was turning out badly; surrendering might result in a truce. “I won’t say anything.”
He sighed, then smiled—a sight not often seen. “Now let’s go back to the dining room. Mother has dessert ready.”
She groaned. “Oh, Dad, if I put one more ounce in my stomach, I’ll burst!”
“I guess you’ll just have to burst then.”
When he touched her right shoulder, warmth from his fingers radiated straight to her heart. She smiled up at him, and he quickly removed his hand and motioned toward the dining room.
About the author
At fifteen, Rebecca Price Janney faced-off with the editor of her local newspaper–she wanted to write for the paper; he nearly laughed her out of the office. Then she displayed her ace–a portfolio of celebrity interviews she’d written for a bigger paper’s teen supplement. By the next month she was covering the Philadelphia Phillies!
During Rebecca’s senior year in high school, Seventeen published her first magazine article and in conjunction with the Columbia Scholastic Press Association named her a runner-up in their teen-of-the-year contest. She’s the author of 23 books including her latest, Sweet Sweet Spirit, the sequel to Morning Glory, the Golden Scroll Runner-Up for Historical Novel of the Year. Easton at the Crossroads claimed the Historical Novel of the Year honor.
Her other books include Easton at the Forks, Easton in the Valley, Great Women in American History, Great Stories in American History, and Great Events in American History, along with Harriet Tubman, Then Comes Marriage? and Who Goes There?
A popular speaker for civic and patriotic organizations, churches, synagogues, women’s retreats, writing conferences, and schools, Rebecca also appears on radio and TV. She’s a graduate of Lafayette College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and she received her doctorate from Missio Seminary where she focused on the role of women in American history. She lives with her husband, son, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Theirs is a Revolutionary family—Rebecca is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, her husband is a Son of the American Revolution, and her son is a member of the Children of the American Revolution! (Their dog probably would have been a Loyalist.)
The Easton Series from Elk Lake Publishing includes the first three novels about two people, two hundred years apart, joined by family ties, life experiences, and a winsome place that beckons all to “come home.” Book four is due in summer 2020.
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