Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored fourteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing.
The first book in her Road to Kingdom series, INESCAPABLE, came out in July of 2012. UUNBREAKABLE, the second book, released in February of 2013.
Writing a novel is always a challenge. Authors ask themselves: Are my characters interesting enough? Will my plot keep people turning the pages? Is my ending right? Will my readers be satisfied?
We write, rewrite, delete, start over, and sweat over every chapter. That’s normal.
But writing UNBREAKABLE wasn’t a normal experience. Why? Because I decided to tackle a foundational belief of the Mennonite church. And I’m not Mennonite.
You might ask, “Why even go there?” Frankly, it had become the elephant in the room. Something I couldn’t ignore. How could I write about the Mennonite religion and not mention their commitment to pacifism? Pacifism expresses itself as opposition to war and violence. Mennonites believe that Jesus taught us to “turn the other check” rather than defend ourselves through violent means. Although I apply this teaching to my personal life, at the same time I endorse the concept of maintaining a strong military. How could I balance these two viewpoints without offending my Mennonite readers or alienating those who support the brave men and women in our armed forces?
I found myself on, as they say, the horns of a dilemma.
In the end, I decided to present both sides – without actually taking sides.
In UNBREAKABLE, my main character, Hope Kauffman, loves two men. Ebbie Miller, Hope’s fiancée, is committed to pacifism. To Ebbie, staying true to this doctrine means he is committed to never using violence under any circumstances. No matter what the cost. This bothers Hope as she begins to wonder if she can trust Ebbie to protect her should she ever find herself in danger. On the other hand, Jonathon Wiese, the other man Hope is attracted to, believes in turning the other cheek – as long as someone he loves isn’t in jeopardy. Before the end of UNBREAKABLE, both men will be forced to put their faith to the test. To save Hope’s life, what choices will Ebbie and Jonathon make? Will they stay true to their convictions? Or will Hope die because of her Mennonite tradition?
A reader recently told me that her opinion about the doctrine of nonviolence changed as she read UNBREAKABLE. As I worked on this book, my opinion may not have changed completely – but I began to seriously question it. I still haven’t made a decision one way or the other. And that’s okay. At least I have more understanding toward my Mennonite brothers and sisters. Hopefully, my readers will not only enjoy Hope’s story, but they will take a second look at this long-held Mennonite principle. Perhaps with understanding we can move a little closer to becoming the church Jesus prayed for.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Would you like to see your name in print? Next Monday, I’ll pick one winner who will get to see their name in the first book of my brand new series debuting in 2014. I’ll use your name for one of my characters.
Please leave a comment, your name, and your contact information. YOU could be immortalized in print!