Roger Hernandez talks about writing ‘helpful truth’

Pastor Roger Hernandez.

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Pastor Roger Hernandez is the Ministerial and Evangelism director for the Southern Union Conference, based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He is the author of 14 books including the “Sharing Book of the Year”—on two occasions—and the “Discipleship Book of the Year” for 2016: Everyone Welcome. He talked about his ministry and writing—and his ministry of writing.

As a pastor and ministry leader, why add writing to your busy work life?

Writing is like breathing—if I don’t, I die. Someone once told me, publish or perish. When you die, your ideas don’t have to, if they are written somewhere. Since I speak often, writing is really helpful in condensing thoughts and ideas in a palatable form that is concise and practical.

How did writing begin for you?

I started 25 years ago. I saw how some of my messages helped people in their marriage, so I decided to put them down in book form. What kept me writing is seeing the benefit it had for people. One of my first resources was a small-group book that I pitched to a publishing company, but was rejected. We self-published and worked really hard to promote it. It did so well that the publishing company circled back and offered to print the book.

Your recent books have a self-help feel. What does our faith offer for the challenges of life that we all face at times?

I prefer to use the phrase “helpful truth” to describe my work. Truth that is not helpful is just information. But self-help books that aren’t based in truth can lead people astray. Both are necessary. Growing up, I mainly saw information in our denomination but little on how the gospel can apply to the everyday life of people. I promised myself when I became a writer and pastor that I would work to balance things out a bit.

What have you learnt from writing about the challenges of life?

I write, first of all, for myself, about topics that I myself either struggle with or have struggled with. We all have problems; there are universal issues human beings have. I love to write about that. It’s interesting how looking at words on a page can help you see things from a different perspective.

What is your favourite of your books?

My favourite book is my next one. Once I am done, I move on to the next book. I am presently writing a book on leadership from the life of Moses titled “I can still use you”. I am in love with it already! But of those I have written, Failure is Not Final is the one I would point out. Super practical and an easy read, I enjoyed writing it.

What are the best responses you have received to Failure is Not Final and We All Have Solutions?

They go like this: “I read your book, it helped me in . . . [this area].” It’s a joy to see biblical principles becoming real for people. I write about a real God who cares about our real problems and offers real solutions. People I will never meet in person have written and sent messages through social media about how their life was touched by these books. Helping people never gets old.

How do you suggest church members best use and share your books?

First, read it yourself. Then keep your ears open for phrases from people like this: “I have been having a hard time lately . . .”—or similar phrases. I write in a way that it’s not cliché-filled so unchurched people can understand them without all the “Adventese”. If you travel, leave one for the hotel cleaning crew or read one on the airplane and gift it to the people next to you. There is pain all around us, giving a book away can help people, but make sure you wake up every day intentionally open to God moments where He will put in your way people who can benefit from these resources.

Books by Roger Hernandez—including We All Have Solutions and Failure is Not Final—are available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand.

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