Book tackles hard issues


A book that tackles the hard issues experienced by young people today was launched recently in Sydney.

Written by Sydney-based author Amanda Bews, Heaven Sent was inspired by a newspaper article about the number of young women who are sexually assaulted while under the influence of alcohol. 

Stories give people an opening to share.

“I guess what shocked me the most was the number of people who, when I told them what I was writing about, could identify with Heaven’s story,” she said. “There are so many people who are our friends, colleagues and part of our church family who have suffered through soul-damaging experiences and say nothing. We can live alongside them unaware of their hurts. Stories give people an opening to share.”

Author Amanda Bews in front of a table of books at the Sydney launch.

Youth counsellor and family therapist Paul Bocgas said the book raised many of the issues teens and young people struggle with. 

“The place of sex, painful family circumstances, the use of alcohol, the value of faith and the struggle for acceptance are themes that are woven into the story,” he said.

Mr Bocgas commended Signs Publishing for its willingness to tackle the hard issues young people face today, saying he was proud to be part of a Church that’s taking seriously issues that have often been ignored.  

The book launch took place in front of 60 friends, family and participants at the combined New South Wales conferences’ Children’s Ministries training event, Home Grown.

Ms Bews spoke of her dream of seeing the book and free discussion guides used to generate discussions in group settings as part of developing a biblical worldview. She hopes the book will give young people the perspectives, tools and wisdom needed to work through life issues in a healthy way.

South Pacific Division director of Children’s Ministries, Julie Weslake, echoed the value of books such as Heaven Sent and shared her own experience of being drawn into its engaging story at the same time as being prompted to think further about the serious issues being presented.

The launch culminated in a prayer led by Pastor Garth Bainbridge and family members for the people who will hold Heaven Sent in their hands. They prayed that the book will be used to impact lives and grow people in connection with God.

Intended for use in youth groups, classrooms or Sabbath school classes, the leaders’ and participants’ discussion guides—developed by Ms Bews’ husband, Pastor Brendan Pratt—are available for free download from the website <>. Using the story of Heaven Sent as a starting point, the discussion guides explore 13 topics including pictures of God, alcohol, date rape, abortion and forgiveness.