Sunday 16 December 2018

The Unannounced Christmas Visitor by Patrick Higgins

The Unannounced Christmas Visitor

What if angels really did come from the most unlikely of places? That’s exactly what happens in this heartwarming story, set in a homeless community in Anywhere USA. Sent to Planet Earth by his Maker, disguised as a homeless person, Enoch was on a mission: to rescue a man whose life was slowly but steadily spiralling out of control. Inspired by Hebrews 13:2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it,” this story will stir your soul like never before, guaranteed!

The Guru's Review: 

I bought this novel two years ago after the author recommending it to me after reading one of his other novels. The description inspired me to not only buy it but start my own Christmas fiction "collection" and that I would read in this genre during December every year. I have read in many genres and this was one that I had not. For the past two years, I had intended to read during December and every year I mentioned to the author that I would do so! But as we all experience, our plans get re-directed or changed. Life gets in the way! This is the third December that I have only read Christmas fiction during this month. This year, I was determined to read the novel that started this new trend in my reading.

Since then, I have read some wonderful, inspiring, uplifting and award-winning Christmas fiction. And I applaud the Christian authors who write in this genre. I have never been blessed so much regarding the true meaning of Christmas and the Gospel and it has definitely challenged and strengthened my faith in God. 

The Unannounced Christmas Visitor is now the novel that has challenged me and blessed me the most out of all the Christmas fiction I have read over the last 2 years. 

This is a truly Spirit-filled story! It is powerful on many levels. The reader will be challenged, convicted, outraged, disgusted and infuriated. This is written by one author who is very much focused on God and is under His direction and guidance. Higgins shows an in-depth understanding of what it means to be homeless and society's attitude and behaviour towards it and to those who are. Maybe what is more shocking in this regard is how some Christians take this attitude to the next level of judgement and disapproval and appear worse than those who do not know Jesus. It was here and the scenes that depicted this that both challenged and infuriated me. I have seen similar in my church life in both these two areas. And it is here that Higgins allows the Spirit of God to challenge the reader, especially those who are Christian to check their attitude and see in what areas of their mind and heart they need to change and have it replaced with the heart of God.

Higgins depicts the various aspects of the Christian's attitude and behaviour through the members of the Jensen family and their church family. Lydia, the mother is the one who shows more of the heart of God in her discernment of the attitude towards Enoch, the homeless man who attends church and of those in the Church who display such a judgemental and disapproved attitude towards him. What struck me here, with Lydia's character was that this is reflective of the fact that women are more spiritually sensitive to men so it did not surprise me that Higgins depicted her this way seeing that her husband had lost his focus on God and had allowed himself to be spiritually oppressed by humanistic attitudes of those around him and the influence of his upbringing.

We have one of Lydia's friends who has no direct contact with Enoch but who shy away from her because of her interaction with Enoch and how this makes her feel uncomfortable. We have the couple who contribute large sums of money to this megachurch who "evict" Enoch from the front row of the church solely due to their exaggerated importance and the fact that they believe vagrants have no place in the church. We have the ushers who are seemingly powerless to act on their own and follow the "orders" of this couple in placing Enoch at the back of the church. I related to Lydia's reaction to these people and events as she questions if she was really in the House of God and that her church family were not behaving as if they have the heart of God towards Enoch. I was saddened, disappointed, and infuriated here more than she was!

This novel has been criticised for its long sections of preaching by the character Enoch. I have come across this many times in novels, but I cannot understand the validity of this criticism. If the reader, Christian or not, wants to be just entertained, then they have chosen the wrong novel. Not all Christian novels solely entertain. Most Christian authors write because they have a message from God that He has encouraged them to include into their novels. This novel is a classic example.

I found these "long" sections of "preaching" necessary to the very essence of this novel. Sure, it did seem as if the plot and pace were on temporary hold while Enoch discussed with John about his spiritual state, what it meant to be homeless, the spiritual aspects towards this, and how he tied it all in with the heart of God. It is here that this novel is powerful and packs a great impact. I was challenged, inspired, encouraged and convicted during these instances of long narrative. It is this that I find and welcome in Christian fiction that it has this effect on the reader to not just entertain, but to minister more of who God is, how we are to live out the Gospel and be a willing vessel for His use to a hurting and fallen humanity. Higgins shines here. I was awestruck at how he composed these sections. The author may have been writing but the Spirit of God was speaking in these narratives. If the reader has a teachable spirit, then this novel will impact and influence them greatly. It will change the reader's heart and mind toward this topic of homelessness, hopelessness and how Christians judge and disapprove of anything that places us outside our comfort zone or especially when their heart attitude and behaviour is contrary to what and how the Spirit and the Bible encourage and instruct us to live. But what breaks through here is the message of hope, redemption and restoration that only God can provide. 

The way the author depicted this through Enoch, Lydia, Matthew, John, Grace and even the homeless characters was brilliant. I came to love the latter, Leroy, Suzie, Rocky, Troy, Dillon, Pedro, Wanda, Tiwanna and by the end of the novel, I had stopped seeing them as homeless and hopeless but as people who are not defined by their homelessness or their circumstances but as people who are striving to be more than this. It was a classic example of how the Spirit works in and through us, however different we are to each other and how He is able to work all this together to achieve His aim of breaking down barriers and attitudes that close us off from the situations others are in and our response to them so He can have His way and save us from our sin.

Spiritually, Higgins is spot on with his inclusion of biblical theology and doctrine as depicted through Enoch. One could view the counsel of Enoch as true biblical counselling especially in his dealings with John's spiritual state. It really does show that the work of the Spirit is the correct way here as long as the person affected has a teachable spirit and has no hardness of heart and wants to change. I was so impressed with Higgins' dealing with this issue, his knowledge of the Bible and how he applied all this to the specifics of John's emotional, mental and spiritual state.

I loved the narrative of Enoch about the biblical references of the Nativity and accounts of Jesus' birth. Again, Higgins ties this exceptionally well together into a cohesive "story". I found this to be an effective Bible study on its own.

I need to make mention of the character of Enoch. Yes, that Enoch, the Biblical Enoch! If Enoch is anything like Higgins has depicted him, I can hardly wait to meet him in Heaven! So many times, I kept thinking, "Is this really Enoch, or is it, Jesus?" I would not have been surprised if it was Jesus! So Christ-like was Enoch! It really impressed upon me how much I would love to attain the many behaviours he had developed from his relationship with God. Higgins has depicted him as seeing clearly, figuratively speaking, in full understanding and knowledge now he is with God and this is a great encouragement for us to cherish once we are united with God in Heaven. 

As with any novel, or most, the plot has been developed to reach a peak where all the plot arcs come to a head, where everything is tied up for the ending. This novel has a very satisfying finale. It is uplifting, inspirational, emotional and joyous. I cried for such a long time. Not only for the joyous ending but for the way this novel has changed me, for what the Spirit of God has impacted on my heart and challenged me in my relationship to others and to Him. I came out of this with such a worshipful attitude and a sense of gratefulness and thankfulness for what He has done for myself and mankind.

Looking back on this novel, it is evident that to write such a story like this, the author has to be in tune with the Spirit and to also be writing what he lives. I am so encouraged by Higgins as a man of God and author. This is one novel that will have a special place in my library and in my heart. 

Highly Recommended.

The three ratings below are based on my discernment:

World Building 5/5

Characters 5/5

Story 5/5

The two classifications below are based on the booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland:

Spiritual Level 5/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 5/5

Overall Rating: 5/5


Spiritually, based on my review and on the following reference booklet,

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that The Unannounced Christmas Visitor contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Spirit-filled  Fiction outlined in this booklet, (click on the title below to see what this is based on), I bestow unto Patrick Higgins with the

Congratulations, Patrick!

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1 comment:

  1. I've just finished reading this novel and agree with you on its spiritual, Christian message, a much needed message!


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