Sarah Young, the author of the bestselling devotional Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, passed away on August 31. She was 77.

News of Young’s death comes just one day after PW reported that her health was declining.

Young’s writing career began as a missionary living in Japan and in Western Australia with her husband Stephen. During this time, Young kept a prayer journal to help her cope with suffering due to chronic illnesses, and those writings became the genesis for Jesus Calling. The book features 365 entries related to pain, disappointment, joy, and redemption that are written as if Jesus is speaking, and it was first published by Thomas Nelson in 2004. Today, Jesus Calling has sold over 45 million units across the Jesus Calling brand, which includes Young’s newer devotionals Jesus Always and Jesus Listens, as well as a host of ancillary books and products.

During an interview with PW in 2012, Young explained the motive behind her writing, saying, “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.”

And when her second yearlong devotional, Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence, was published in 2016, Young told PW: “My books tend to speak to different people in different ways. My other books have been well received, but people have been clamoring for another 365-day devotional. Finally I can offer them that.”

At the time of its publication, Jesus Always broke the record for the largest print run—one million copies—for the HarperCollins Christian Gift division. Young’s third yearlong devotional, Jesus Listens: Daily Devotional Prayers of Peace, Joy, and Hope, was published in 2021, also with an initial print run of one million copies.

Thomas Nelson expanded the Jesus Calling brand in 2022 with adapted formats and new retail outlets. And in October, the press will release a new devotional, Jesus Listens—for Advent and Christmas, with Full Scriptures: Prayers for the Season.

Other backlist titles by Young include Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence (2012), Dear Jesus: Seeking His Light in Your Life (2007) and Jesus Lives: Seeing His Love in Your Life (2009).

In a statement announcing the author’s death, Mark Schoenwald, president and CEO of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, said: “It has been a joy and an honor to have Sarah Young as part of our publishing family.” He added, “Sarah was a remarkable woman who deeply loved God. Her words have resonated with people from all walks of life, and the global impact of her work is unparalleled.”

Laura Minchew, senior v-p and group publisher of the children’s and gift book group at HCCP, said in a statement: “Through nearly 20 years of publishing with Sarah, I had a firsthand seat at seeing millions of lives changed through the Jesus Calling books. Her books have met people in their darkest hours, taught children about Jesus, and changed lives for eternity. Knowing Sarah professionally and personally has been the privilege of a lifetime.”

In his statement, Michael Aulisio, v-p and publisher of the Jesus Calling brand at Thomas Nelson, noted that “it was never about the sales” for Young. “Sarah cared solely about leading the reader into deeper, richer relationships with God.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Young died on September 1.

Update 9/13/2023: A service for Young was held at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn. on Sept. 9, according to Williamson Memorial Funeral Services' website. When reached for a comment, Aulisio told PW: “Sarah’s Celebration of Life was truly that – a touching remembrance of a life well-lived. Sarah deeply impacted not only people who knew her personally but also millions of people who had never met her, yet were profoundly changed by her words. Sarah’s Celebration of Life made it abundantly clear that she accomplished her life goal - helping people form a deeper relationship with Jesus and the Bible.”