David Mathews was born in the small town of Friend, Nebraska, a community of 1100 people once listed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for having the world’s smallest police station—a tiny tool shed previously used by highway construction crews. He grew up in small towns in Kansas and Indiana before settling in Indianapolis after college. David describes himself as a “big dreamer with an over-active imagination.” Now living in Ohio, David and his wife, Donna, have six children between them, along with a son-in-law, daughter-in-law, three grandchildren, and two Boston terriers. He enjoys home remodeling, woodworking, bicycling, camping, and loving being a grandfather. David also never grows tired of watching Andy Griffith reruns.
In this interview, David shares his thoughts behind his latest novel, Fugitive of Faith.
FF: Where did the idea for Fugitive of Faith originate?
I was studying the life of the Apostle Peter, how he made brash promises about remaining faithful to the Lord, and how, when tested, he fled like all the other disciples. But even though he denied the Lord, that did not end his usefulness for God. I even dreamed about Peter. I saw him sitting in the jail cell awaiting extradition to Rome, but it wasn’t the Simon Peter of the Bible. Instead, it was a contemporary man called Pastor Pete. When I awoke, I began exploring what a modern day parallel to Simon Peter might look like, and what challenges or issues he might face in today’s world, and that process morphed into to the story.
FF: What was your motivation and purpose for writing this book?
Persecution of believers is nothing new. Just as the apostles were threatened, beaten, and killed for proclaiming the truth about Jesus, believers in post-modern America are now beginning to see some of the same opposition. Using the Apostle Peter’s life as a loose template, I wanted to explore what options American Christians might have when they are persecuted for standing up for God’s truth, in particular, when the government passes legislation restricting free speech and religious liberty. Since that is a hot-button topic in our country right now, and one I feel very passionate about, I chose that framework on which to construct the plot. My prayer is that God will use Fugitive of Faith to challenge believers to remain faithful to their Lord and Savior in the face of persecution with a strength and grace that only He can supply.
FF: What is the main theme of the book?
The Christian’s response to unjust authority and persecution for the faith. What should they do when facing unjust persecution? What if that persecution comes from an authority that legislates actions contrary to God’s Word? Do they have the right to resist? Should they flee from persecution, fight back against it, or stand firm and face the consequences?
FF: How would you describe the plot and tone of the book?
While the plot is replete with fast-paced action and poignant soul-searching, there are also moments of humor and compassion woven throughout. The tone is suspenseful but not dark. Although intense at times, hope always remains. The story is meant not only to challenge and stimulate, but to entertain and encourage the reader as well.
FF: Who are some individuals who have inspired and influenced your writing?
1. Missionaries Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian, who lost their lives trying to reach a violent tribe with the Gospel of Christ;
2. Dutch sisters Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, who remained confident in their Savior’s love even while living the nightmares of a Nazi concentration camp;
3. Pastor/author Randy Alcorn, whose books Safely Home and If God is Good continue to challenge me to remain faithful to my Lord no matter what;
4. Singer/songwriter/composer Ron Hamilton, whose songs “Rejoice in the Lord” and “How Can I Fear With Jesus?” speak to my heart each time I hear them.
FF: What does your writing process look like, and what advice might you offer any other aspiring writers?
I never intentionally set out to write a book. But I’ve had vivid, movie-like dreams with such great plots and characters that in the morning I felt compelled to jot down the details before they were lost. I’ve always dreamed in living color, but these specific times were different. I can’t really explain it. I tried setting the project aside for a while, but my mind would not let it go, and I found myself constantly adding thoughts and ideas–many of which unfortunately came to me in the middle of the night! Finally, after a lot of prayer, I sat down at the computer and began writing linearly, starting with the very first paragraph and writing straight through to the end, sometimes for an hour or two at a time, but occasionally for several days straight, whenever I could find the time. Finishing the manuscripts took approximately eight to nine months before I felt each was presentable enough to send to my publisher.
FF: What are some quotes from the book that reflect the main theme?
“This is new territory for all of us in America who desire to fully obey God. The freedoms we’ve enjoyed for over two hundred and forty years are rapidly eroding. But we need to be prepared and ready to face it. The time for sticking our heads in the sand or looking the other way is over. And I don’t think it’s going to get any better in the near future.”
“I do not want to be that man, the one who refuses to stand for the Lord, the one who forsakes Him and flees.”
“With repentance comes forgiveness, and with forgiveness comes restoration, and with restoration, usefulness.”
“There comes a time when all the petitions and protests and rallies don’t seem to make much of a difference. There’s got to be more we can do to change things. We can’t afford to sit around on our hands watching our country go down the drain.”
“I think the church has been too busy trying to appeal to the world instead of proclaiming the gospel. Many so-called ‘Christians’ have drunk the Kool-Aid of social and political reforms, often to the exclusion of the need for repentance and faith in Christ. The church in general has failed to be the salt and light in this dark world. We seem to have forgotten that apart from the life-transforming work of the Lord Jesus, there is no lasting hope or peace for this world.”
“I’m not going to be here when they come to arrest me, that’s what!”
FF: What do you hope the reader takes away from this book?
I hope the reader comes away with the conviction that the faithful child of God should always seek to obey the authorities, for they are appointed by God. But, when their laws contradict the commands and principles of Scripture, we are obligated to obey God rather than men. HOW we go about fulfilling that command is key to being a faithful witness and testimony for our Lord.
FF: Why should people buy your book?
Fugitive of Faith addresses one of the top hot-button issues of our day: freedom of speech in post-modern America. If you care at all about the erosion of your First Amendment rights and religious liberties, or if you simply enjoy a good action-packed, suspenseful-yet-poignant, compassionate story, you’ll want to add this novel to your reading list. While full of heart-pounding danger and narrow escapes at every turn, Fugitive of Faith also exposes the enemy within—fear and doubt. Once you pick up this book, you’ll find yourself saying, “Just one more chapter!”
Fugitive of Faith
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Dystopian
Release Date: July 27, 2021
ISBN-10 : 1649601271
ISBN-13 : 978-1649601278
Pastor Pete Holloway is an ordinary Bible-believing in pastor, Iraqi war vet, husband, and father in San Francisco, California. His world is upended when he is called to the local police precinct to answer to charges of disseminating hate speech per the Hate Speech Elimination and Reparation Act recently voted into law by the state of California. Pastor Pete soon realizes that he must make a choice: remain home and be arrested or abandon his family and church and begin the life of a fugitive, searching for freedom. He chooses the latter, and the man of God becomes the man on the run. Fugitive of Faith is far more than a dystopian “what if ” novel. It is an insightful, necessary soul search of the ordinary American Christian.
As Holloway searches out legal recourse to help him regain his freedom, he begins to realize the dark layers of his own sins. “Even if we think we can only do a little, we don’t have the option of doing nothing.” Fugitive of Faith reminds its readers how precious freedom is; how rare ruth is; and that each human being, no matter how outwardly righteous, hides his own sin deep within his heart. This thrilling novel challenges the preconceptions many hold dear, while taking its readers on a wild foray through California’s legal system. Christians around the world will.
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