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A Stranger's Gift: True Stories of Faith in Unexpected Placesby Tom Hallman
Synopses & Reviews
True Stories of Faith in Unexpected Places
In this very personal, welcoming book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Hallman, Jr., shares his journey of faith from indifferent agnostic to growing believer. Faith, Hallman tells us, is looking in the mirror in the morning and wondering why. It’s about doubt and hope. It’s catching a glimpse of a beacon piercing the fog of life and walking toward it, never knowing if you’re headed in the right direction, but pressing onward.
You’ll meet ordinary people and be drawn into conversations that ask probing, almost intrusive questions—conversations that linger in your mind and resonate with your heart—from the ache of a mother who watched her baby die after only twenty days of struggling for life to the peaceful strength of a man working with those whose present situations mirror his past.
Within these pages, you’ll find real and honest accounts of everyday people whose discoveries of faith will inspire and comfort you on your own journey.
The security lock thumped open, and I stepped into Level 3, a neonatal unit where I had been drawn to a drama played out minute by minute. As I stood above two cribs along a back wall, I wondered less about doctors, nurses, and medicine and more about God.
Two babies had been born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Both had been placed on a heart-lung bypass machine to let their organs rest.
One boy had no name. His mother was a crack addict. After giving birth, she abandoned her baby and never returned to the hospital.
In the adjacent crib lay Jonah Van Arnam. His parents were active members of a church and visited their son daily to pray for him and the nurses and doctors.
One afternoon, a nurse pulled me aside and told me a miracle was taking place: the crack addict’s baby was getting better. But . . . Jonah was dying.
Why had God abandoned this couple and their son?
Where was this so-called loving God?
—from chapter 6
From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Hallman comes thirteen beautifully crafted stories that gently guide readers into the hallways of faith—openly asking questions, exploring scenarios, and finally coming to the beginnings of a breathing faith.
Tom Hallman’s unexpected journey toward faith began with a routine assignment to write a feature piece for The Oregonian newspaper. He begrudgingly found himself in an African American church on a Sunday morning—out of place, uncomfortable, and ready to leave from the moment he got there. But he accidentally found something he wasn’t looking for: he saw faith and prayer in action. And that seeing stirred a curious hunger in him that he’d never known before.
Compelled by this initial experience, Hallman began to seek out men and women across the country who believed. And these people—whom he calls his “faith teachers”—became characters in thirteen stories of exploration. In this book, readers will meet ordinary people and be drawn into conversations that ask probing, almost intrusive questions—from the ache of a mother who watched her baby die after only twenty days of struggling for life to the peaceful strength of a man working with those whose present situations mirror his past.
As the book and stories progress, two narratives unfold: Hallman’s story and exploration of faith, and the stories of the people he met.
About the Author
Tom Hallman, Jr. is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his series of articles about a boy named Sam whose face was severely disfigured. Other stories by Hallman have appeared in Esquire, Men’s Health, Readers Digest, Writers Digest, and other magazines. He has won every major feature-writing award in the nation. Born and raised in Portland, Hallman graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1977. He now writes for The Oregorian in Portland.
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