When David Edgren set out to write a story that would teach kids about Jesus’ resurrection, he thought, What better way to do it than through the story of a child? His new book—Just Believe—is that story. Officially launched on February 1, Just Believe retells the gospel account of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus, but from the perspective of the girl herself.
Published by Signs Publishing, Just Believe tells the story of Talitha—the name by which Jesus addressed her, meaning “little girl”—who wants to meet Jesus for a special reason. She is dying and believes Jesus can save her, Mr Edgren explains. But her father, Jairus, a leader in his local synagogue, is concerned about bringing Jesus—who he believes to be a rebel and a Sabbath-breaker—into his home.
“In my mind, this story was always about Talitha until I became a dad, then it became the story of Jairus,” says Mr Edgren, who has been working for the past few years as a school chaplain, as well as telling stories in churches whenever he has the opportunity. “Would I invite someone into my home who I thought was a bad influence?”
Written for six to 10-year-olds but offering insights for the whole family, Talitha tells of her father’s journey. As he observes Jesus, his mindset shifts from rules to relationships, from legalities to life—and he too comes to believe that Jesus can help Talitha. Talitha receives a new beginning. Following on from themes in Mr Edgren’s The Perfect Lamb, a similar style of story published in 2013, Jairus comes to understand that through Jesus’ own death and resurrection everyone who believes can have a new beginning too.
Open-ended discussion questions at the end of the book help make these themes clear, including Sabbath, faith in Jesus and the power of His resurrection. “I’m known as a children’s storyteller but my gift is really in making things simple. When you do that, adults have lightbulbs go off too,” Mr Edgren reflects upon his experience of sharing this story in a number of church worship settings over the past few months.
“The story has great dialogue, dynamic characterisation, with wisdom for both kids and adults,” agrees Maryellen Hacko, whose illustrations help bring the story to life. “It’s the kind of book that people and families can enjoy together.”
Just Believe is available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand, or online at <https://adventistbookcentre.com.au/just-believe.html>.