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Brother Word    by Derek Jackson order for
Brother Word
by Derek Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Derek Jackson entered the arena of Christian fiction with Destiny's Cry, followed by A Man Inspired. In Brother Word, Jackson portrays Chance Howard, a man torn by the loss of his beloved wife Nina. He departs from his hometown of Ruston, Louisiana, leaving his father and the farmland inherited from his late mother Jacqueline. Nina's mother Jucinda blames Chance for her daughter's death, and warns what she will do to him if he ever returns.

Chase is an anointed man with a gift from God, but also has great needs of his own. He 'sought relief in the sweet sanctuary of memories', oft at peace in his favorite park amongst the tall trees, questioning his inner pain, 'Why! Why, God? Why did my love have to be taken away? What did I do to deserve this? ... Why'd you even give me this?' (as he looks at his hands). As he fingers his mother's old black leather Bible, he recalls her words, 'Things in this world are fleeting ... The grass withers and the flowers will fade away, but the Word of God will stand forever. The Bible reveals our hearts. And it's how God talks to us.'

It has been two years since leaving Ruston, and Chance Howard sits in the fourth row of Hope Springs Church in South Carolina. As Pastor T. R. Smallwood delivers the closing to his sermon, he falls prostrate on the floor - he has not collapsed from the exuberance of the ceremony, but from physical pain in his heart. Chance slowly and casually walks to the pastor, putting a hand on his heart and asking, 'Sir, do you believe you are healed through the blood and by the name of Jesus Christ?'. He then quietly walks out the door, as the Pastor's pain recedes.

Lynn Harper is about to begin her summer vacation. As she does last minute errands before leaving town, her vehicle is hit by another. Lynn loses consciousness. Trauma to her eyes from shattered glass makes blindness likely. Even with her unshakable faith, Lynn bears the 'weight of despair' and questions, 'Why me, God?' Chance watches as Lynn fumbles to find a door back into the church after losing her way from the restroom. Her physical resemblance to Nina is startling. When Chance approaches to remove a garden rake from her path, she asks if he is there for the 'healing crusade'. He prays for her.

Eddie Everett suffers a rare defect that causes the tibia and fibula in both legs to be fused at the ankle. In a wheelchair, Eddie is also deaf. In the diner, Chance overhears Eddie's parents, and approaches them to ask if he could pray for Eddie's health. Reporter Travis Everett writes lesser articles for The State newspaper. Word of healings in the area reach him via his nephew Eddie's parents. A skeptic at best, Travis interviews Lynn by telephone, and makes the front page with the headline 'Man Calling Himself Jesus Christ Heals Several in Sumter'. His story sells papers.

Derek Jackson's novel is uplifting and endearing, with an unexpected conclusion (and some loose ends). Jackson shows the power of prayer, faith, and God's love, depicting a range of emotions within each character through times of doubt, trial and affliction. The gift of healing is the central theme. Jackson's words provide hope, spiritual food for the soul, and the power to face overwhelming loss in our lives, lending force to his words, that the 'greatest healings take place in the heart ... faith unlocks a healing power'. Both believers and non-believers can find solace in Jackson's gentle, but powerful read.

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