‘The Damascus Way’ Breathes Life Into the Story of the Early Church (Review)

By Kevin Bunn
Guest Reviewer

The collaborative work of authors Davis Bunn & Janette Oke bring the life and times of ancient Judea into perspective, particularly that period of time following the death of Stephen, the martyr who said at a critical point in his stoning:

“Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:56 NLT)

The Damascus Way opens, not in Jerusalem, as one might expect, but rather, in Tiberias, carefully revealing the family of Jamal, the merchant, a man of some wealth and power in those parts of the land in the north near and about Samaria.

Combining the strategy of weaving multiple threads into the warp and woof of this novel’s garment, the reader is compelled from one place to another, from one situation to another, from the tale of one person and thence to another, seemingly disconnected; but while continuing to turn the pages the reader sees a link, a connection, the single golden thread that ultimately will culminate in revealing the mysterious work of Jesus to spread the gospel, “beginning at Jerusalem and then to Samaria and then to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8)

This novel breathes “life” into the story of the early church. Topography, weather, animals, danger, bandits, weariness, sorrow, health, Roman soldiers, courage and the will to survive; the attributes of living so often left out of our often seemingly monotonic reading of the New Testament.

Any reader who has the ability to be carried by their imagination to “far-off lands, times and circumstances” will appreciate how the words of this novel develop the new and returning characters into “real, living beings” whose lives are touched by the swirling world around them.

At the focal point of this “real life” is Julia, a young maiden, the daughter of Jamal who comes to know the Lord in a very special way; but more importantly, who crosses paths with one particular man, at a time of great significance: Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor.

It is here the cloth is nearly complete. The colorful threads have all been identified and inserted, bound together in a way that leads to the high point on the road to Damascus, but further than that event, the impact of the days that followed. Were this story a quilt, every square, every piece would tell another part of the story as they were sewn together, until the whole were made complete.

Many questions are asked and answered in this moving story of adventure, life and history. Is it all real?

No.

But is it possible?

Yes.

We know lives were touched, connected and transformed in the days of the gospel spreading out from Jerusalem. The characters are real enough to help us see how people of faith were needed to live, day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month, over and over again to show the world that Jesus lives; Jesus works in the lives of his people; and He touches in very special ways, the hearts and minds of those who seek Him.

About Kevin Bunn (no relation to Davis Bunn): From early childhood I have been associated with the Christian faith. I have always been an avid reader, starting before kindergarten reading the newspaper and anything else I could get my hands on. I remember reading the Bible during church services, especially the Old Testament stories, mostly because when I was young, the sermons were “over my head” in terms of subject matter and theology.

Over the years I absorbed the Biblical history and learned how important these stories are to our ongoing battle with sin, as well as the thread of God’s plan for our salvation.

This understanding has helped me as a Bible class teacher, study and home group leader and from time to time, a speaker delivering the message of our faith. More importantly, as a father and husband, I learned how to help my children develop their faith in God and Christ, as well as supporting my wife during her journey to become a Marriage and Family Therapist and Bereavement Counselor.

I am presently a businessman in the construction industry, searching out and developing a focused, niche business to recycle construction debris into marketable product.

More Articles and Reader Reviews About the Acts of Faith series

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