Sales of a Christian devotional book have spiked
since Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin read excerpts from it during his speech at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition last Saturday.
Walker, who is considering a 2016 White House run, read from "Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence,"
which was written in the first-person voice of Jesus by author Sarah Young.
Young is a former missionary to Australia and other countries, Religion News Service reports. The book was published in 2004 by Thomas Nelson Publishers Inc., a division of HarperCollins.
In his speech to about 1,000 evangelical Republicans at the Point of Grace Church just outside Des Moines, Walker read from the book's entry on June 4, the date of his Wisconsin recall election in 2012.
He had read the entry several days after winning the election — Walker said he had been too busy with the recall that day — and a friend had sent him the item in an email.
"'Welcome challenging times as an opportunity to trust me,'" Walker began. "'You have me beside you and the spirit within you, so no set of circumstances is too difficult for you to handle.
"'When the path before you is dotted with difficulties, beware of measuring your strength against those challenges,'" Walker continued. "'Without me, you will not make it past the first hurdle.
"'The way to walk through demanding days is to grip my hand tightly and stay in close communication with me,'" he read. "'Regardless of the day's problems, I can keep you in perfect peace as you stay close to me.'"
Reading the entry just days after becoming the only governor in the nation's history to survive a recall, Walker told the Iowa crowd that, "It made me realize at that moment that the best time to minister is to accept God's calling at the time when you least expect it."
That, he said, led to his initial decision to run for governor in 2009 — and is fueling whether he might enter the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
Within days after Walker's speech, "Jesus Calling" rose to No. 1 on several online book lists, including Amazon, RNS reports.
According to Publishers Weekly, the book has now sold 14 million copies in its many forms — calendar, smartphone app, children’s book — since it was first published.
"It’s a franchise," Marcia Nelson, the magazine's former religion reviews editor, told RNS.
"Jesus Calling" sold about 59,000 copies in its first few years, largely via word of mouth, according to RNS. It outsold "Fifty Shades of Grey" in the first half of 2013 — and was No. 1 on PW's list by August.
It has consistently remained among the top three books on the list.
"'Jesus Calling' didn’t need Scott Walker to get a bump," Nelson told RNS. "Christian publishing has had a massive hit on its hands ever since 'Jesus Calling' was published in 2004."
Phyllis Tickle, a former PW religion editor, said that she could not remember another book — religion or not — being read in public by another presidential hopeful.
"Candidates will cite books," Tickle told RNS, "but not like this."
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