Serita Jakes, first lady of The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, sat down with The Christian Post Friday to discuss the story behind her new book, The Crossing, a fictional account of the very real-life situations that effect everyday people within and outside of the church.
The Crossing, published in September by WaterBrook Press, focuses on two main characters: the perfect mother and wife trying to hold it all together, and a police officer sworn to protect and serve. Due to a shared traumatic incident from high school, Claudia Campbell constantly relives the anguish of that day, seemingly frozen in one moment in time. Her inability to cope with the stressful experience, and her husband's desire to solve the mystery surrounding the case, threatens to tear their family apart.
As for Claudia's old school friend, officer Casio Hightower, he walked away from that life-altering incident with both emotional and physical scars, and takes out his anger and frustration on the woman he wants to marry.
As the story progresses, Claudia and her family and Casio find themselves close to losing all that they have — discovering that what started at the crossing can only end at the cross.
Certainly not the first time Mrs. Jakes has tackled the issue of emotional healing, the wife of Bishop T.D. Jakes said she was delighted to discover that she could minister to those hurting through fiction writing.
She has previously authored The Princess Within: Restoring the Soul of a Woman, reprinted January of this year, and which aims to help women find wholeness as "the princesses God created them to be." Another one of Mrs. Jakes's titles is Beside Every Good Man: Loving Myself While Standing By Him, published in 2003.
"From a position of leadership and the platform that I've been given, I wanted to address real issues. And my husband is a dynamic minister... but I have a gift of my own. I had to stir up my gift and present it in the form that I'm most comfortable with. The novel has gotten to be one of my stronger messages," the first lady explained.
In addition to ministering to women through her writing, First Lady Jakes is also the Executive Director of The Potters House's women's ministry, founder of God's Leading Ladies Life Enrichment program for women and The Potter's House's Debutante Program for teenage girls.
"At our church, after about 30 years of biblically counseling people," Mrs. Jakes explained. "I've sat across the desk from moms whose daughters have been raped; women who've been in domestic violence situations; children who've been in homes where domestic violence has occurred; women who have had abortions and can't get over the guilt and the shame of it all."
The Dallas megachurch also has a ministry for women and children who have been affected by domestic violence, so Mrs. Jakes knows firsthand the value of ministering not only to people's spiritual and physical needs, but also to their emotional needs.
"I think that a lot of people don't come forward to admit that they have an emotional or mental problem because they're ashamed," Mrs. Jakes said. "Whether your trauma happened last night or ten years ago and you need emotional help, say so."
With The Crossing, she said, "I wanted to take the opportunity from the platform that God has given me to say that I care, and that there is nothing wrong with you beyond needing help. And don't be afraid or ashamed to say so."
The underlying message with The Crossing is redemption, said Mrs. Jakes, noting that it is not only those coming to church that are need of heeling. Many people involved in ministry suffer in similar ways.
"I wanted to take very realistic characters because we are not, as Christians, exempt from any of the casualties of life. We are not exempt. We hurt. We bleed. We cry. We smile. We're flawed," Mrs. Jakes explained about her desire to write The Crossing. "The patter's perfect. He [God] is dealing with a flawed fabric."
She added, "I wanted to bring about a realization, not just to our church community — but using this genre (fiction) as we've used our movies and our plays and our music projects — to reach outside the walls of our church, into our communities, into our world, to let them know that we as Christians have compassion. We are touched with the feeling of other people's infirmities. I can't have such a vertical relationship that I am oblivious to my horizontal relationships."