Faith Alive: Retired Col. Robert Simpson, member, First Baptist Church

How long have you been a member of First Baptist and what is its main gift to you and your family?

I’ve been a member for a little over 25 years. There are many spiritual benefits but the major one, to me, is a sense of inclusiveness. Not all who go there think alike, dress alike, have the same background or the same income level, but we’re all accepted as part of the family, all seeking spiritual fulfillment.

What prompted you to write a book? Is it your first? Any plans for others? I’ve been writing stuff for almost as long as I can remember, so writing a book was a natural part of the progression. Writing this particular book, though, was prompted by the sense that here was a story that needed to be told. I had seen someone very close to me fight against incredible odds, overcoming huge obstacles as she fought repeated bouts with cancer while paralyzed and in constant pain. I thought she not only deserved to have her story told, but that others fighting similar battles might be encouraged by it. The book is my first one to be published. The unpublished novel hiding in my drawer doesn’t count. As for others — well, I’m a would-be novelist, so I’m always either working on one or thinking about one. The real question is whether I’ll live long enough to produce one that an agent or publisher likes as well as I do.

You’ve said the book was a labor of love. How so? Writing the book was excruciatingly personal and involved someone with whom I’ve spent 43 years of my life. I wanted to do it for her, and for me, and for any part of the public that might be encouraged by the finished product. “Labor of love” was the cliché that came most quickly to mind.

Through your wife’s health problems, what have you learned about suffering and God’s love? That it’s in His hands, that you can probably stand more than you think you can, and that the end is not necessarily when we are certain it will be.

What has your wife taught you through all her struggles? The real meaning of the word “courage.”

Who’s in your family? We have two adult children. Our daughter, Stacey, and her husband Paul Duke, are both preachers and share senior pastor duties for the First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor, Mich. They also share American Baptist campus minister duties at the University of Michigan. Our son, Sloan, lives in Athens, Ga. He recently moved there after almost 10 years in Atlanta, where he did digital printing for an art production company. And then there are our grandchildren. Stacey and Paul have twin sons, Rob and Charlie Duke, now five years old. Naturally, they are of supreme interest and importance to us, even more so than our two Yorkies, Simon and Samson.

Simpson’s book, “Through the Dark Waters,” is $12.95 for paperback and $27.95 for hardback. They’re available at Barnes and Noble or through or Lumina Press: 1-866-229-9244.