Years ago, when I was editor of a denominational magazine, I began receiving article submissions from a man named Jerry Raaf. They were often unique, unexpected, even offbeat pieces, displaying out of the box thinking. I published some of them. They were theologically orthodox, but they made people think about things in a new way.
Over time, I met Jerry and got to know him a little bit. I later learned that he had begun writing books. When he found out that I had established a small book imprint called Mill Lake Books, he asked me to publish his next book, which I did. It was called Mice in Sophie’s Mattress (2018, ISBN 978-0-9951983-6-4). The story concerned a colony of mice who were living happily in a mattress in an old farmhouse. They were safe and warm and had plenty to eat—until Sophie, the farmer’s wife, bought a new mattress. The old mattress and the colony of mice were abruptly dumped at the back edge of a field. Life for the mice suddenly became hard and dangerous. The book is an elaboration of the line from a Robert Burns poem that “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.” Raaf’s novel aptly portrays the plight of many people who find themselves thrust into difficult and bewildering circumstances with no understanding of how things could have gone so wrong.
This year, Jerry asked me to publish another book, An Angel in my Shadow (Mill Lake Books, 2021, ISBN 978-1-7771926-4-8). This book chronicles the life of the Reverend Owen Richards, whose routine existence is shattered in the middle of the night by the sound of wind chimes. Looking out his bedroom window, he sees a mysterious white-haired stranger sitting in his backyard. In the coming days and years, Owen encounters this mysterious stranger on several other occasions. The stranger explains to Owen that he is a messenger, a guardian, and a servant of the Almighty, with an important message for Owen. Though initially fearful of the words spoken to him by the white-haired man, Owen eventually embraces the words, which strengthen his faith and prepare him to deal with impending and painful disasters. This novel encourages the reader to ponder the nature of the presence and protection God offers His followers and to consider what message God might be giving to other souls encountering troubled times.
Both books are available from online retailers and Christian bookstores.