We sat down with Kenneth Ching, author of Shattered Prayers: The Testing of a Father’s Faith, to talk about his book and the process of writing such a personal story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and Shattered Prayers.
Shattered Prayers is the story of how my first child was born with a rare genetic disease. The book is about how horrible that experience was and yet how it opened my eyes and heart to the hope of the gospel.
What did you learn while writing the book?
I learned that some people in the Christian publishing industry think that Christian readers will freak out because, once, in the book I smoke a cigarette (how these same people read their Bibles without having a heart attack, I don’t know). I also learned that, generally, to publish a memoir you’re supposed to be a celebrity already. Fortunately, my publisher, Kirkdale, didn’t seem worried about either of those things!
What was the most challenging scene or chapter to write? Why?
There are some scenes at the end of the book where I’m dealing with depression and having some dark thoughts, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted people to know that stuff about me or if people would take it the wrong way. But then I thought I had to tell the whole story and not sugar-coat things.
What was it like to be so open and transparent throughout the narrative? Did you find this challenging or freeing?
That’s actually just how I am. At some point when I was pretty young, like 15, I learned that people generally respond really well when you’re open about yourself, and also that underneath our facades we’re all really similar. In my experience, there’s about a 95% chance that anything you’ve thought or felt or experienced, there are lots of other people who have thought or felt or experienced the same thing. And then you’re both relieved and happy when you find out that you’ve both been through the same thing.
Writing this story let me see how he had always been with me throughout the trial, and how he was always moving me down a path toward greater hope and trust in him. I saw how my experience, though it seemed like chaos at the time, actually fit perfectly into the kingdom of God and God’s purpose for me. When you’re going through something, you don’t have much perspective. But going back and writing it all down as a single narrative makes you see the themes that God was developing in you. For example, as I wrote Shattered Prayers, it became really clear to me that I’m always trying to control everything in my life and how contrary control is to faith.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or Shattered Prayers?
I’m still amazed by this, but I have far more hope and trust in God now—after having gone through a terrible trial—than I did before it happened.
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