Interview with Charles J. Williams, Jr.

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I’m pleased to welcome a new member of Grace & Faith, Charles J. Williams, Jr.  Please give him a warm welcome!

Hi, Charles.  Before we get into the writing, tell us a little about yourself.

Life as a writer is a relatively new hat for me, and I’ve worn many in my life: student, husband, father, Naval officer, pastor, author, and teacher.

In the realm of husband and father, my wife and I have been married of 26 years. We have four beautiful children, two married, one engaged, and one who is single and happy.

My oldest daughter, Ashley, a graduate of Charleston Southern University, is married to Josh Adams, an Elementary School teacher. She serves as the Minister of Music at First Baptist Church in Hemmingway, South Carolina. My only son, Charles III or Trey, is a graduate of The Citadel. He is married to Morgan who works at the Medical University of South Carolina where Trey is a first year medical student. My third born, Hope, is a graduate of Clemson University. She has been recently engaged, and is working as Veterinary Surgical Assistant. Finally, my fourth born, Sarah, is a second-semester freshmen at the College of Charleston studying to become a high school English teacher.

I love to learn. I am a 1985 graduate of The Citadel where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a Master’s of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I have an earned doctorate in Theology, and I am a candidate for a doctorate in Education from Walden University.

Following graduation from The Citadel, I served as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy before leaving the Navy to start a computer consulting firm. After five years of serving Fortune 500 clients all over the United States, I entered the ministry where I served as Pastor of churches in Kentucky and South Carolina for more than 17 years. I became a full-time teacher in 1997 via the South Carolina Program for Alternative Certification of Educators (PACE).

In addition to my debut novel, In His Steps: What Does the Bible Say?, I am a published author with more than two dozen articles in various national magazines, and I have contributed to two other books.

Wow! That’s a lot in 26 years!  So how did you become a Christian author?

As a Christian and a former Southern Baptist Pastor, a Christian novel is a natural extension of who I am as a person. Moreover, as a young minister studying Theology in the early 1990s, I was greatly inspired by a classic book by Charles M. Sheldon, “In His Steps.” Like my book, it was a work of fiction, but it inspired me to try to live my life as Jesus Christ lived. Over the next 17 years I experienced the joys and the heartache of full-time Christian service. Periodically, I would realize how much my real life paralleled Sheldon’s fictional story. Thus, I found myself journaling my feelings, reflecting upon my actions, recording prayers, and claiming scripture for strength and guidance. Periodically, I used those journal entries to encourage others, and to help lay members and ministers alike live a fuller, richer life in Christ. This is the essence of my first novel and this future literary series.

By the way, I am already working on book two in the In His Very Steps series. Entitled “Fishers of Men,” it will be a 15 chapter work about witnessing that picks up on the story of Reverend Harter and the members of First Church Kingston five years after book one.

The sequel… awesome!  I love it when stories continue.  So I’m curious.  If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing and why?

I would be teaching, and at this point in my life, teaching either Theology or Biblical Studies, or graduate level education courses. But hey, I’m an optimist – maybe I can do it all.

I think we all wish that! 🙂  So who are your greatest influences either writing or personal?

The single most influence person to influence my writing was Margret Gaskins – my twelfth grade English teacher. Mrs. Gaskins passed away years ago, but the lessons she taught continue to serve me. Equally, important modeled love and grace at a time in my life when I needed both.

Boy how I know about the impact of great English teachers.  What has been your greatest challenge in life so far?

By far the greatest challenge was raising four children in a lost and deprived world without losing any to drugs, alcohol, jail, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, or the like. Seriously, I consider that not my greatest challenge but my most rewarding – greater and more rewarding than serving as Pastor of five Southern Baptist Churches.

Raising good kids in today’s world is a feat none of us can do without God on our sides, that’s for sure.  So what do you like to read?

That’s a hard question. The most influential book in my life is the Bible and it was written by by men divinely inspired as God’s perfect revelation of Himself to man. Apart from it, W.A. Criswell’s Guidebook for Pastors. I literally read it every year for about 10 years. And two of the most memorable books I’ve ever read were This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. In general, I love reading a variety of genres, but the classics are by far my favorites.

Frank Peretti’s work was instrumental in my writing and spiritual journey as well.  Is there a saying or quote you live by?

“God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.” — Unknown, cited Jerry Bridges in Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. This quote speaks to me because I’ve experienced more than my share of pain in life. All of that is behind me now and this quote summarizes, in one word, why that is so – God.

What are you working on now?

As a novelist, I’m working on the second in the “In His Very Steps” series, Fishers of Men, and I’m researching a non-fiction offering addressing work-readiness gaps in high school graduates. Other works are on the drawing board but there are only so many hours in the year.

I hear you there!  Where can our readers find you on the ‘net?

I’m like a World-wide-web-junkie… look me up using my Facebook page “Charles J Williams Jr” or my fan page at

www.facebook.com/InHisVerySteps

on Twitter I’m “drcjw”

and on Google+ I’m “pastorcjwilliams”

but the easiest way to find is to simply visit my blog at www.ihvsbooks.com

~ John 13:15

Thanks so much for joining us Charles and be sure to let us know when that sequel hits shelves!

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