Amid the hoopla of Super Bowl Sunday, its infamous half-time show, and the fierce competition of the event, a cadre of dedicated young people quietly fanned out across the country to collect donations for food banks and soup kitchens in the tenth annual Souper Bowl of Caring. As First Lady Laura Bush recently said, "In the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people in the Gospel of John, one child put his faith in God and... believed that the little he had to give could make a difference. And that's the spirit of the Souper Bowl of Caring. "Those young people collected more than $3.5 million, giving hope to those in need and demonstrating that they are quite capable of making a positive impact on their communities.
Youth are often labeled as the "hope for the future," but they can also be an intrinsic part of the answer for today. Paul Murphy, author of the new novel entitled The 13th Apostle, firmly believes in the potential of youth as a result of his more than 30 years experience in public education as a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools.
To reach youth with his message, Murphy tells the story of Christ's passion in a fresh, new way from the perspective of a young disciple, named Gamaliel, who eventually becomes The 13th Apostle. A mixture of fiction and biblical fact, The 13th Apostle follows the first five books of the New Testament, which give the account of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. But unlike the controversial film by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ, this book deals more with the people who have supported Christ, rather than those who crucified Him, and the impact that His life and His words have upon their lives. But above all, the message of this book is that young people have a potential to make a huge difference in the lives of others.
Written in particular for middle school and high school aged teens (although appreciated by people of all ages), The 13th Apostle challenges us to think about what an encounter with Jesus would be like. Gamaliel's conversation with Jesus changed his life forever, and afterward he began to significantly impact the lives of those around him.
"What Would Jesus Do?" was an enormous fad in recent years with spinoffs such as bracelets, embroidered hats, and T-shirts with the initials WWJD blazoned on them for all to see. The 13th Apostle takes the idea a step further by asking, "What would Jesus say to me?" and challenges the reader to follow His direction. As one teen put it, "The touching story of Gamaliel and his life changing experiences with Jesus perfectly demonstrate the strong and true love that God has for each and every individual. The 13th Apostle helped me see past my flaws to trust the Lord."
The 13th Apostle, by Paul Murphy, published by Evergreen Press (2004), ISBN 1-58169-142-4, 224 pg., PB, $11.99 retail, distributed by major trade distributors and online at www.paulmurphybooks.com (click here).
(This release is available to general media, publications and webmasters)