Home Christian News Final Book by Rachel Held Evans Published Posthumously

Final Book by Rachel Held Evans Published Posthumously

“I affirm LGBTQ people because they are human beings, created in the image of God,” Held Evans wrote. “I affirm their sexual orientations and gender identities because they reflect the diversity of God’s good creation.”

Chu, who lives with his husband in Grand Rapids, Michigan, evoked similar themes in his 2013 book, “Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America.”

He first heard from Held Evans after she learned that Chu’s book was in the works; she asked his publisher, “How can I help?” and soon invited Chu to guest-post on her popular blog.

Though the two writers shared a common outlook about LGBTQ issues, Chu was grateful this wasn’t the foundation of their eight-year friendship.

“We just talked about life,” he said. “She was one of the rare people who fully embraced every aspect of me, and didn’t make the gay part outsized.”

The night Held Evans died, Chu was at the hospital with Daniel Evans – evidence of the close friendship that had evolved over the years.

“The reason I picked him (to finish the book) is because of who he is as a friend, and his incredible talent,” Evans said. “Jeff has a really good understanding of where Rachel was.”

Evans, 41, said he’s multitasking these days at the family home in Dayton, Tennessee – striving to be a good father to his 5-year-old son, Henry, and 3-year-old daughter, Harper; working hard to get Held Evans’ posthumous books completed and published.

“What I’m learning the most is being OK with multiple emotions — experiencing deep grief and deep joy at the same time,” he said. “I’m extremely happy for this book to come into the world.”

One of his favorite chapters elaborates on a phrase that Held Evans adopted as a personal motto: Thick skin, tender heart.

He said the phrase encapsulated her approach to the many social media users who assailed her critiques of conservative evangelicalism.

“A lot of people used her as a symbol for everything they say is wrong,” Evans said. “It was often difficult.”

Evans said Held Evans was working on four children’s books when she died; he hopes all of them eventually will be published.

The book that did appear in June — “What is God Like?” — has a special status for Evans. It’s the first book by Held Evans that he read to their children.

“Henry knows that Mommy wrote this,” Evans said.

In the book co-authored with Matthew Paul Turner, Held Evans encourages children to “think about what makes you feel safe, what makes you feel loved, and what makes you feel brave. That’s what God is like.”

After the book was published, Daniel Evans posted a tweet about it.

“I’m agnostic. I think God is unlikely. I don’t believe prayer heals. If it did, sick people prayed for would be healed more often than those who aren’t,” he wrote. “But if I ever believe again, it will be in the God Rachel understood. I hope for the God of “What Is God Like?”

This article originally appeared here.

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David is a New York-based reporter with The Associated Press, covering national social issues. His past postings include Nairobi, Johannesburg, Paris, Sarajevo, and Toronto.