Friday, August 26, 2016

The Disillusioned by D. J. Williams - A Remarkable, Almost Supernatural Family Mystery Drama!

The end is near but I don’t feel a thing. I thought I would. Remorse, regret, fear of breaking God’s law, but nothing. The voices tell me to hurry. Under my breath I whisper, “Lord you are my shepherd. You lead me beside the still waters. You restore my soul. Lead me toward the path of righteousness.” I don’t dare look back as I cross Green Street.

I'm an old woman, sick and tired of the voices rattling in my head. I am ready for this day, my final hours before I disappear into the hereafter. I didn't always live in this white walled room, away from those I love, watched twenty four hours a day by a Filipino nurse down the hall. Once, life was filled with adventure and purpose. At least that's what everyone has told me. My days have grown faded, blurry, run together in an endless sea of confusion. It's hard to distinguish what is real anymore. There are only a few things I still recognize as reality, things I will take to the grave.
My husband, John, is one. The day after we were married he began building a church in the fields of the Lone Star State. He was a preacher who spoke with fire in his soul. A few years after the church was finished he decided it was time to move west. He was convinced it was God’s will, so I followed. In the summer of 1981 we piled everything we owned into the back of our Ford pickup and headed towards California. 
From the moment we arrived our lives were filled with hopes and dreams. John poured himself into building another church in Newport Beach. Soon life found a rhythm. I never imagined what would happen in the years that followed. The church grew by the thousands. People flocked to hear John preach. We enjoyed the success in our ministry, along with the unexpected perks: popularity, money, and influence. John wrote a book that skyrocketed to the top of the bestseller list. The church phone rang off the hook with speaking opportunities. We believed it was all part of God’s plan. 
Ten years later I had my hands full with two young boys while John was busy traveling the world. I went with him on occasion, but for the most part I stayed home and watched my babies grow into young men. At times it was as if I were a single parent. I could’ve spoken up. I could’ve objected to the sacrifices we made in the name of God. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. Instead I enjoyed the comforts of being a wife, our beachfront home, a private jet leased by the church, a cabin in Lake Isabella, John’s seven figure salary, as well as his book royalties. A bonus was the respect given to us whenever we entered a room by those who didn’t know us. It was flattering, and addicting. 
This isn’t my life anymore. I’ve been locked up here for one thousand and ninety five days. I’ve had time to think about the choices I’ve made. I’ve thought about what is best for everyone. I’ve become a burden. I know it. I feel it. I hate it. The whispers inside tell me there’s only one decision to make, undoubtedly the hardest one of all. It goes against everything I’ve believed. But nothing is the same as it once was. God forgive me. A year ago John was killed. I was set free from this place long enough to bury my best friend, the one who left me here to be cured, only days after seeing one son marry the love of his life. 
You see, these voices rattling in my mind caused great concern for my family. I woke up one fall morning, around five-thirty, walked out the front door and down to the pier where I jumped into the ocean. The voices convinced me it was the only way to be free from the secrets that have torn at my soul. Secrets I’m afraid will destroy my boys. Of course, to hear John tell the story, two angels pulled me from the water and saved my life for a God ordained purpose. Wasn’t it suicide? I guess it was. Another illustration John used to inspire others to greatness and convince the lost of their need to be found. In the end no matter what he tried, he couldn’t save me. How easily we preach about faith yet struggle with the demons within. Too often the answer is to write a book about God healing the depressed, preach a sermon on miracles, or stand before the influential of society proclaiming victory as these secrets linger just below the surface. I’ve watched as rooms filled with doctors, psychiatrists and therapists offered one diagnosis after another for my misfortune. From the pulpit John simply referred to it as a chemical imbalance. The controversy over my plunge into the ocean spread throughout the religious circles, which resulted in more books sold for John. It seemed pain and agony were as marketable as success and fame. I know John loved me, but he buried himself in his work and over time we grew apart. 
He pushed himself harder than ever before, perhaps it was the only way he could justify a spouse who was in lockdown. He drove up from Newport to Pasadena every Thursday to be with me. He did what he thought was right. God placed a calling on his life, who was I to stop him? All of us made sacrifices, including my two sons, so that John could fulfill his vision. In the end he lost his boys, and I lost my mind. Now I sit here in a wheelchair and wonder how it all went wrong. I’ve failed those I love. They’ve failed me too. For many years I’ve kept secrets that have ripped my soul into pieces. I’m tired. I don’t want to live any longer surrounded by strangers. The voices have assured me this time angels will not save me. I know what I need to do to set those I love free, but I will miss my boys.

The Disillusioned:
A Guardian Novel

By D. J. Williams

I did a little negotiation to get to read this book. The author had asked that I review his latest book, Waking Lazarus, but I wound up with both... Did God know I needed to read this book? This series? I don't know yet. But as soon as I saw the book trailer and then read the fist chapter (above), I was hooked.

I was never suicidal from my clinical depression, but I was left with disillusion...I'm still dealing with it. So was Carole Armstrong. But she had so much more to have caused her the pain and suffering. Mine was merely job burnout and the results of that. Carole Armstrong's entire life was shattered by the secrets she learned...

Then, too, was the way her husband and her sons reacted to her disease--yes, it does result in a permanent chemical imbalance. John even used what had happened to her as a lesson in a sermon...I would have been mortified...many wives would have been. Nevertheless, Carole did attempt suicide and have been confined.

Her husband had died during her time in the hospital and she was freed only for his memorial service... When she asked one of her sons to take her home, he turned his back on her and left her there, standing, hoping... 

Carole succeeded in suicide on the second try...

He left me to pick up the mess.
I never realized the secrets he
kept to keep his ministry out
 of scandal
 but now I do.

I discovered early in my life that, while many people put church leaders on a pedestal, that they were really just--and only--people. John Armstrong had started out in faith and built a steadily growing church. Soon the money flowed, the church expanded and John was traveling across the world in a missionary and financial support activity.

But something had happened... And Carole had learned of one of those secrets... In her death, she knew that she must break open that secret...

She wrote her will with a contingency plan that, if not accomplished, would deny any inheritance to her two sons. I must admit that I wondered whether part of her actions was based upon a bit of revenge...

Both of the boys had pulled away from the church. The oldest, Danny, had been the heir-apparent to the lead pastor position, but that was not his plan for his life. He was happily married, but had still not found what the future held for him. 
Danny tried to suck it up. He tried to trust God. Somewhere in the midst of it all he was lost in a culture he didn’t understand and a faith that was rooted in power and position rather than mercy and love.
Sam had gone into the music industry and was doing quite well as a producer. But when he learned of his mother's suicide, he remembered back to the day that she'd asked him to take her home...and the guilt he'd felt when he left her came roaring back... But then he'd always run away from things he didn't want to handle... And when, having learned of the special clause in his mother's will, and Danny had asked that he work with him to fulfill the requirements, Sam had once again hid behind the commitments he'd made to the job and refused to go...
It dawned on Sam, as he stared at the ceiling fan above, that very little of the night's conversation had to do with remembering the great things about their mom. There were no tears or laughter, only the back room politics they had all grown to hate. Even after all these years the battle between self ambition and God's calling seemed to be as strong as ever. He closed his eyes, his body relaxed, and the night grew still.
For me, the background family drama is the major part of the book. Without it--the slow dissolution of this Christian family as it struggled within the later power and corruption that came as the church got stronger and stronger--

And then, as Danny and his wife and Sam were struggling with the loss of their mother, and the secret quest she had demanded for the boys, they were confronted by the church that there was evidence that their father had stolen $5M!

Danny left without Sam and went to discover a woman, somewhere in Africa, as demanded by their mother. But, nobody could have imagined what was waiting for him...

The rest of the book is undoubtedly an enthralling suspense thriller that kept me up reading, only to wake up early and continue... You see, when Danny followed his investigation, he wound up in the clutches of an African war lord with a child army, most of whom had been captured, torn from their homes and parents...

Plan on graphic violence...but then you should be aware of the problem on human trafficking leading to millions of dead children around the world. Other books have told this important story...but this one is the first that placed God right in the middle.  That made it the top personal favorite, so far, for 2016 for me...

I believe that God has a plan for each of us, but I also believe that if we stray from that, God revises accordingly...but He never leaves us... Surely, this book is an inspired plan by the author, showing exactly what can come out of lives that have been disillusioned by this world...

This book is relevant, disgusting in detail, and yet miraculous in outcome. I believe the author was totally inspired by God as he wrote the book. I think that may be the only or one of the very few about which I have said that in all my reading years. Because... I felt His presence as I read...

Let us pray for this author and support him in this new work. Talk about his book and share about it after, hopefully, you've read it... I consider this one a must-read for all who want a better future for all God's children...


With the DNA of a world traveler, D.J. Williams was born and raised in Hong Kong, has ventured into the jungles of the Amazon, the bush of Africa, and the slums of the Far East. His global travels have engrossed him in a myriad of cultures, and provided him with a unique perspective that has fueled his creativity over the course of an eighteen year career in both the entertainment industry and nonprofit sector.

His debut novel, The Disillusioned, has garnered praise from Hollywood’s elite such as Judith McCreary, Co-Executive Producer, Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, & CSI, who said, “The Disillusioned is a fast-paced mystery…you won’t put it down until you’ve unlocked the secrets and lies to find the truth.”

Currently based out of Los Angeles, Williams continues to add to his producing and directing credits of more than 300 episodes of broadcast TV syndicated worldwide by developing new projects for television, film and print.

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