By Gwen Sisson
For the WPT
The idea began on a trip to the Grand Canyon.
Bill and Joyce Yates, along with two friends and several travelers, were on a tour bus heading to the Grand Canyon, when Joyce started a conversation with the lady sitting next to her. Joyce asked a few conversational questions, and found out the lady was from Australia and she was a medical doctor.
Next, Yates asked the traveler what the dominant religion was in Australia and she answered that it was Catholicism. When asked if she were Catholic, she promptly answered, “No,” and that she didn’t believe in any religion, no heaven or hell and that when this life is over, “Poof, that is it!”
“I wished at exactly that moment that I had a simple scripture-filled, easy-to-understand book about the Christian faith, but I did not,” Yates said. “I told her about Lee Strobel’s book “The Case for Christ,” which is a wonderful book for non-believers but very in-depth and long — over 400 pages. After this encounter, the Lord put on my heart and mind, that a simple, scripture-filled book to plant seeds of faith was needed to hand to people who are unbelievers that may or may not be open to discussion about the Christian faith.
Yates said she doesn’t pretend to be an accomplished writer, but knew that this type of book was needed to be used as a tool for witnessing and to bring comfort to Christians. Yates said “The Lord put it on my heart.”
A little later, the Yates took a cruise to Alaska with internationally known Bible teacher, Dr. David Jeremiah.
“I asked him to write a simple book about heaven,” Yates said. “He didn’t comment that he would or wouldn’t but I kept waiting. And wouldn’t you know, that his simple book on questions about heaven just came out last month, and it is wonderful! If it had come out earlier, I may have never felt compelled to write the book, and would have missed the prompting of the Holy Spirit.”
The simple easy-to-read book, “Heaven, Can I Go?” is 38 pages filled with simple language using a travel theme to make it relatable.
“My hope is that people will use the book as a tool to pass on to unbelievers to spread the message of Christ in a simple, non-threatening way,” Yates said.
Reba Thompson, member of FBC Eupora, just completed the book describes it as clear, concise and convincing.
“Those who have been in church all of their lives are going to know most of this, but if you have no background in the Christian faith, have never been to church, it is a very simple, very plain plan of salvation,” Thompson said. “It is very easy reading and can be read in two hours easy. It is very encouraging.”
Thompson cites a paragraph in the preface of the book that she said best describes what Yates is trying to convey to the world through this work:
“I beckon you to travel with me to a far country, a place where we will stay forever and ever. The preparation for the trip may take one or two years, or it make take 80 or 90. The most important aspect of the trip is to have a solid reservation. I’ve already made mine; I invite you to make yours today.”
“This faith through salvation in Jesus is so much more valuable than anything on this earth,” Yates said. “I have had several believers tell me that the scripture selections were favorites of theirs, too, and that they have a peace and joy when reading about the promise of heaven.”
Yates will be speaking about the book at the Friends of the Library meeting at noon April 14 at the Webster County Public Library.
Books can be purchased at Amazon.com, Chillin’ n Childs in downtown Eupora and at The Book Mart & Café in downtown Starkville.