Barbara Covington is living a nightmare. First she loses her husband to cancer, then she realizes her daughter Emily is a hard-core drug addict. In desperation, she contacts a Christian rehab center. The director of the center is a former addict herself. She agrees to come out to the Covington house, do an intervention, then escort Emily to the rehab center in another state.
As you might expect, events do not go smoothly. The intervention session makes Emily quite hostile. Barbara forces her daughter to go with the rehab lady, but when the two arrive on the other end, things go terribly wrong. The rehab lady is found dead in her car, and Emily is missing. Of course Barbara is convinced that her daughter didn’t have anything to do with the murder, while the police consider Emily to be their prime suspect.
Throughout the story, you see the agony that a family goes through when one of their own is a drug addict. Feelings of helplessness and desperation dominate the atmosphere. The parent’s attention is totally focused on the child with the addiction, to the neglect of the child who is doing nothing wrong. At the end of the novel, the author writes that the story was inspired by her struggles with her own daughter, who was a drug addict. I have to give the author a lot of credit for being willing to share some of the things that can happen when you have a loved one with an addiction.
This was a strange read. I spotted the book at a local thrift store, and liked its unique cover. The back cover listed the book as “Christian/suspense”. Ok, that’s good, I thought. I won’t have to dodge nasty language or sexual content. But diving into the book, it did not read like any other Christian fiction novel I’d tried.
The main character is Dylan Runs Ahead, a Native American living in Montana. He is ex-military, and has chronic pain in his leg, thanks to a roadside bomb incident. He is addicted to prescription pain killers, and will resort to all sorts of ways to get them. His buddy Webb, who isn’t terribly smart, helps him get what he wants. Then you have the other main character, Quinn, a young woman who cuts herself and shoves metal things like paperclips under her skin. She is an exorcist, and goes around trying to expel demonic viruses from people. She is constantly chasing Dylan. And then there is a commune with a wind turbine farm where life seems idyllic, but of course really isn’t.
The whole book is based around the idea that in the end times, people are falling away from belief in God, which makes the time ripe for the “man of sin” (the Anti-Christ, although that word is not used in the book) to infect the minds of humans and control them. The book spent at least half of the book on Dylan and Webb running around trying to find drugs, Dylan talking to the voice of his dead sister in his head, and Quinn self-mutilating. It was hard to figure out what the plot was, and who was good or bad. It also portrayed the Native Americans living in Montana in a rather negative light. Although it could have been a great novel, God was barely mentioned and the demon/Anti-Christ was portrayed as having all the power. This is a rather poor book about spiritual warfare.
When we think of life-long friends, what comes to mind are: kids we went to school with, neighbors we hung out with, and college roommates we kept kept in touch with after graduation. Our friends tend to be about the same age as us, and have shared interests.
That is what makes the story of Laurie and Maurice so different. They weren’t the same age, race, or socio-economic status. They met by chance – or was it chance? Maurice was an 11-year-old black kid panhandling to feed himself, since his mother was a drug addict incapable of providing for him. Laurie was an advertising executive walking down a busy city street in Manhattan when Maurice asked her for money. She shook her head no, kept going, then stopped and went back. Instead of giving him money, Laurie took him to the nearest McDonalds and fed him. And that was the beginning of their life-long friendship.
Maurice and Laurie met every Monday to talk and eat together. The other days of the week, Laurie would pack her young friend a huge brown-bag lunch, and leave it with the doorman of her apartment building for Maurice to pick up while she was at work. An invisible thread drew them together, and became stronger as time went by.
This true story is incredible. Even though it seemed that Laurie and Maurice had absolutely nothing in common, they did. Both had fathers that had failed them, one being a violent alcoholic and the other being an absent drug addict. What I took away from this book was: 1, God brings people into our lives at just the right moment, even if it seems random, and 2, keep your eyes open because you might be the “Laurie” or the “Maurice” in someone’s life.
In the late 1950’s, David Wilkerson was the pastor of a small country church in Pennsylvania. One day he read the story of seven young men – “boys” as he called them – on trial for murder in New York City. Almost immediately, he felt God calling him to go to the city and talk to them. His attempts to meet the seven were thwarted repeatedly, but while David was in New York, he was introduced to gangs and the drug culture.
He went home to his wife and small congregation, but just couldn’t stop thinking about what he had seen. On his days off, he would drive to the city and just walk around. Before long, the Lord told him to move to Brooklyn and minister to those battling drugs, alcohol, and gang life. From that point on, miracle after miracle happened. David told gang members about God’s love and how He could change their lives. It started slowly, but one by one hardened gang members chose to leave their old lives and follow Jesus.
Then David started praying about buying a house where people who were trying to get off drugs could stay while they were detoxing and recovering. God sent just the right people and exactly the right amount of money to buy a run-down house. Former gang members cleaned it up, as a squatter had filled it up with eight garbage trucks’ work of junk.
That was the beginning of the Teen Challenge ministry. At that time, the average person living outside the big city had no idea how bad the gang problem was, or that an epidemic of drug addiction (primarily heroin) had begun. David’s description of being in a room with a few people who were shooting up heroin was especially vivid. In the book, he says: “I had never felt so close to hell.” He also wrote users’ descriptions of how they were forced into gangs, and how easy it was to get sucked into using drugs and then selling them to support their own habits.
This much love could not be contained to one city. Teen Challenge houses sprang up all over the country. Other people grabbed the torch and ran with it, although David continued to be involved until his death in 2011. One man with almost no money, but endless love for his God and his fellow man, made the world a better place by the way he lived and loved. If ever there was a book to inspire us to help others, this is it!
From “Unlikely Angel” by Ashley Smith, page 263
“I know that if I’m going to recover and stabilize my life for good, then I need solid people around me. I still pray all the time for the friends I knew in the drug scene. While it isn’t healthy for me to be with them right now, these people have good hearts and many God-given talents – they just can’t see through the fog of the drugs. I want these friends to make it out of all that, and I pray that what has happened in my life will impact them in some way. I want them to know God’s forgiveness and that it’s never too late for God to turn a life around. He’s the God of the second, third, fourth, and fifth chance; he never gives up on anyone. If he can change me – the one they called Crazy Girl – then he can do anything!”
This is the book review I posted a year ago today: