Putting Away the Old Life Is Rarely Ever Easy
New series by debut author combines suspense
with an exploration of moral quandaries
How much do you really know about the people around you? Is there someone in your life holding on to a deep, dark secret? Maybe there is someone sitting a few pews away in church that lived a life you never would have expected. Maybe your pastor is doing a little side work for the CIA. The members of Rural Grove Baptist Church would have never expected that from their new pastor, John Cross . . . if that is his real name.
In Andrew Huff’s A Cross to Kill (Kregel Publications/October 15, 2019/ISBN: 9780825422744/ $15.99), John Cross is a small-town pastor, bent on leading his flock to follow God’s calling. He’s not the sort of man one would expect to have a checkered past. But the truth is that the man behind the pulpit preaching to his sheep was once a wolf—an assassin for the CIA. When John decided to follow Christ, he put that work behind him, determined to pay penance for all the lives he took. However, putting away his old life isn’t as easy as he would have liked.
Although their circumstances are most assuredly different, Huff believes readers can identify with John’s spiritual battles to some extent. “I know there are faith struggles John faces that readers can identify with because they are ones I struggle with. For one, John can’t seem to shake loose from past habits and hang-ups. Sometimes those habits can be used for good, but more often than not John finds himself fighting to walk in faith and love and not let his flesh take control when things go awry. Much of the Christian life is about this same battle,” the author explains. “John also has difficulty accepting God’s forgiveness for not only the sins we’ve committed in the past but the sins we will commit in the future. That affects his ability to pass forgiveness on to others. I myself have also found difficult. It’s not hard to believe God might forgive a single mistake here and there, but after failing again and again and again, it’s easy to expect a limit to God’s forgiveness.”
After John has vowed to step away from his old life for good—no more occasional special assignments between sermons—someone wants the peaceful pastor to pay for his sins with his own life. When a terrorist out for revenge walks into the church, John’s secrets are laid bare for all to see. Confronted with his past, he must face his demons and discover whether a man can truly change. Can he keep his vow to never kill again, even when the people he loves are in mortal danger? Will his congregation and the brave woman he’s learning to care for be caught in the cross fire?
A Cross to Kill is not only a riveting story of suspense, it’s also a deep exploration of the moral quandaries that face those who choose to follow the Prince of Peace in a violent world. One of the biggest questions John must face is whether there is ever any legitimate justification for the taking of another person’s life. Is killing ever justified? “The Scripture could not be clearer that we are not to murder, and Jesus goes further by condemning any hateful thought toward a fellow human. There is much more Scripture to consider on the issue, but the answer to the question is not cut-and-dried,” Huff admits.
Huff may have never been a secret operative, but he was able to draw some inspiration from his own life. At the time he was writing the book, Huff was on staff at a Southern Baptist church in Central Virginia. Much of what John experiences with the church and its members is based on Huff’s real experiences in ministry as well as from growing up as a preacher’s kid in rural Tennessee churches. Some of the characters are amalgamations of the wonderful people he’s met along the way. His time in local ministry opened his eyes to the reality of how unique that calling is in the life of a person. Huff loved the idea of capturing the fish-out-of-water experience of someone who did a very different job now finding himself learning what it means to spiritually care for a group of people.
As for the storyline, Huff drew inspiration, especially for the opening scene, from events featured in the headlines. As for the action sequences, those are thanks to his love of action franchises such as Mission: Impossible, Jason Bourne, and James Bond. He wants his series to take the Bible and the church seriously while offering the same kind of jaw-dropping action those novels and films excel at.
A Cross to Kill is the first in the Shepherd Suspense trilogy. The second installment of John Cross’s story, Cross Shadow, releases in May 2020, to be followed by Right Cross.
“An action-packed nail-biter from beginning to end, filled with enough twists and turns to put 24 and Jack Bauer to shame! I couldn’t put it down. Many thanks to Andrew for hours of entertainment and frantic page turning.”
~ Lynette Eason, best-selling, award-winning author of the Blue Justice series
“A fast-paced novel that drew me into the adventure from the opening pages. The characters wrestle with faith, forgiveness, and redemption in a gripping plotline packed with suspense, action, and danger.”
~ Glenn Kreider, author of God with Us
About the Author
He is a two-time finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest for unpublished authors (2014, 2017) and also won the best screenplay award at the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival in Richmond, VA.
Huff holds a bachelor of science in religion degree from Liberty University and a master of arts in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary. He resides in Plano, TX, with his beautiful wife, Jae, and their two boys.
Learn more Andrew Huff and the Shepherd Suspense novels at www.andrewhuffbooks.com. He can also be found on Facebook (@huffwrites) and Twitter (@andrewjohnhuff).