Monday, October 05, 2009

"Sacred Friendships" Authors' Interview

Tomorrow I, along with BBC Grad student Chelsea Huizing, will be reviewing selected chapters from the just released book by Dr. Robert Kelllemen and Susan Ellis; Scared Friendships. Our post will be part of blog tour that is being held in conjunction with the release of Sacred Friendships. You can follow the entire tour on Bob's home site: Changeless Truth for Changing Times. You can also download a free chapter of Sacred Friendships, and order a copy of it, at it's web home.

We will have much to say about the book tomorrow, but in the meantime, I though it would be helpful for you to meet the authors and learn from their perspective, what this book is about. Here are a few highlights from a Q&A Bob and Susan did concerning Sacred Friendships:

What’s the “big idea” behind Sacred Friendships? What would you like readers to take away from it?

Far too often we build our models of ministry by ignoring over half the Christian world—women. The big idea of Sacred Friendships is to give voice to the voiceless by celebrating the legacy of Christian women and by applying that legacy to our ministries today.

We want readers, men and women, to learn from godly women of the faith how to be powerful spiritual friends. Readers will be enriched by the powerful stories of the heroic sisters of the Spirit to apply proven ways to help people find healing hope in the midst of deep pain. They’ll be empowered to help people to find God’s grace for their sins and God’s strength for their journey.

What motivated you to write Sacred Friendships? Why did you choose to write this book?

Bob: I’ve always been passionate about giving voice to the voiceless. When I started teaching about the history of Christian soul care, men and women would say, “I had never even heard of most of these women. Yet their lives are remarkable. Their stories teach me how to live and how to minister today.” Then these same students would say, “You have to get these amazing narratives out there so everyone can learn from them!”

So, we wrote Sacred Friendships to unbury the buried treasure of the riches of the history of women’s ministry. We wrote it to give the world the gift of the life stories of over fifty women of the faith.

G. K. Chesterton observes that history is democracy extended through time. History gives votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. It refuses to submit to those who merely happen to be walking around. Sacred Friendships gives vote and voice to our female forebears in the faith. It listens to their voices communicating the unique shapes and textures of their practice of soul care and spiritual direction.

Susan: A funny thing happened on my way to getting my degree. I had never liked history, but I had to take a class called the History of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. Honestly, I was dreading it, but it turned out to be one of my favorite classes. I wanted to know about the history of Christianity in general, more about the history of soul care and spiritual direction, and I especially wanted to know more about the women who helped shape biblical counseling and discipleship. Then a few years ago we had the opportunity to develop a Women’s Concentration within our program and I was fortunate enough to be assigned the lead role in that adventure. One of the classes we decided to develop was the History of Women in Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. Shortly after that decision, Bob asked me if I would like to co-author Sacred Friendships. It was perfect timing.

It’s also ironic. Years ago, I wasn’t very fond of too many women. I thought many were manipulative, back biting, and petty. There weren’t a lot of women I trusted beyond family and a few close friends. But the Lord changed all that as He brought women across my path and allowed me to enter their worlds, truly enter their worlds...the pain, the hurt, the disappointments. Many times He allowed me to see where the stubbornness, and hardness came from, and He allowed me to be a part of their spiritual and emotional healing, to share in their sorrows, and celebrate their victories. So, when the opportunity to be a part of this book came along, I also saw it as another way to celebrate what is good and beautiful about women and to give today’s women the gift of a heritage that they probably didn’t know they had.

Of the over fifty women you write about in Sacred Friendships, do you have one or two “favorites” and why?

Bob: That’s so hard to decide among all these amazing women. You said one or two, so at least I’ll pick two. When we listen to the silenced voices of wise spiritual guides like Margaret Baxter and Susannah Wesley, we hear the message of feminine empowerment. Margaret, by her temperament, never seemed destined to influence others powerfully. Susannah, by her marriage to a husband who ruled like a despot, never seemed likely to be a leader on the spiritual care journey. And neither woman lived in a cultural era that encouraged their spiritual propensities to flourish. Yet, flourish they did. Why? The unique common denominator linking Margaret and Susannah was their conviction that God was their total happiness and their supreme good.

While they at times struggled with self-doubt and were doubted by others, their faith in God’s loveliness and in His love for them empowered them to live loving lives in an unloving world. Because they refused to diminish God’s infinite beauty, they lived beautiful lives in an ugly world.

Susan: I truly came to love each of these women, but one I haven’t mentioned yet is Amelia Sieveking. She was a German woman who lived in the early-to-mid 1800’s. She was like a spiritual energizer bunny. She loved children and developed a free school so that underprivileged children could receive an education. Then she created a society to help the poor. The society was such a great success that similar societies sprung up around the country and even outside of Germany. If that wasn’t enough, when cholera broke out in her community, she literally lived at a cholera hospital for weeks in order to help the patients and assist the doctors.

It wasn’t so much what she accomplished, but how she was able to accomplish it that is so inspiring. She was devoted to the Lord and she took her marching orders from Him. In her autobiography we see how committed she was to her relationship with Jesus. She didn’t make decisions without Him. She knew His voice above all others and trusted that He would strengthen her to do whatever He called her to do. She cared about the things Jesus cares about…people. She was able to relate to people from all walks of life, from the penniless, uneducated woman in a tenement to royalty and she treated everyone with respect. While she was a compassionate and encouraging woman, she wasn’t afraid to confront.

The other thing about Amelia that I find particularly endearing and encouraging is that she was single, not because she didn’t have at least one serious offer, but because she refused to settle. I encounter a lot of single women and when they choose personal desire over God and marry a man with whom they are unequally yoked, it almost always ends in disaster. My hope and prayer is that single women of all ages will take Amelia’s example to heart. We all can learn from Amelia’s example because we all are tempted to let our personal desires win over God’s best for us from time to time.

How can people get in touch with you and how can they learn more about your ministry and about Sacred Friendships?

I (Bob) can be contacted by email at:
A free sample chapter of Sacred Friendships is available at:
Sacred Friendships is on sale at 40% off for $12.99 at:
To learn more about RPM Ministries, please visit:

Dr. Kellemen has asked us to review chapters 1-2, and 10-12, which we will do tomorrow, and you can follow the entire blog tour at Changeless Truth for Changing Time.

3 John 8
Bill H.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great interview w/my am.cup of java. I am finding "Sacred Friendships" interesting and thought provoking. It is not a fast read which is okay.
I appreciate the thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter and realize this is what keeps me from moving right along into the next without considering the implications of all that I have just read. Gives me time to consider, absorb and think about how I will use this information I have just received.
I have been so caught off guard by some of the women in the narratives, most especially I think the mothers, and the impact they had on those around them. I am encouraged, and challenged so far to be that woman in my world as I consider how God wants me a sacred friend in my own little world.