Despite a New York Times bestseller pedigree, many invitations to speak, and such advance interest for her latest releases that initial print runs had to be upped, there has been no high media profile for Sarah Young.
The author of the hugely popular Jesus Calling devotional remained in Perth, Western Australia—where she and her husband, Steve, are missionaries with the Presbyterian Church in America--as Thomas Nelson published Jesus Today and the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook last month (October).
Her low-key involvement in the launches—even answering questions for this interview by e-mail, through her publicist—stems from her remote location (“Perth has been called the most isolated city in the world”) and on ongoing battle with ill health.
Diagnosed with two infections related to Lyme disease, she spent six months in the U.S. in 2009 getting “intensive, expensive treatment” without seeing significant improvement. For several years she has also suffered from chronic dizziness.
These struggles shaped Jesus Today, which features the same kind of first-person messages from Jesus as her previous three devotionals. First published in 2004 and drawing from her personal journals, Jesus Calling became a word-of-mouth sensation and has sold more than 5 million copies. It and associated products and titles—including the follow-up devotionals Jesus Lives and Dear Jesus--have since sold a combined 6.5 million units.
“I am convinced that if I had been healthier I would not have been able to write this book,” Young says of her latest offering. “It chronicles my journey from discouragement to hope. There seems to be a sense of hopelessness creeping into many people’s mindsets as they look at problems in their lives and in world events. But the hope we can find in the Bible is a sturdy reality—no matter what is happening in our lives or in the world.
“My desire is that Jesus Today will be a lifeline to people who feel as if they're sinking in hopelessness, as well as a source of encouragement to those whose lives are not so desperate.”
Jesus Today features 150 devotional entries of two pages each, along with 50 quotations on hope. With illustrations by Carolina Farias, the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook includes devotions written in the same style as the original adult book but using simpler language.
Young has two married children and two grandchildren in the U.S. and admits “living on the opposite side of the planet from our children and grandchildren is painful. I really miss them, as well as other family members and close friends.” In recent years her illness has meant that Young is unable to be involved much in her husband's ministry with a Japanese and international congregation. “I have concentrated on writing, which I can do from our home,” she says. “I’m very thankful I am still able to write.”