Evangel Profile

Beverly Lewis (’72): Bestselling Christian fiction author

April 19, 2011


Her Amish fiction novels top the New York Times best-seller lists, fans flock to see her at book signings across the country, and now two of her books have been turned into made-for-TV movies.

There’s no doubt that author Beverly Lewis – a 1972 Evangel graduate – is at the pinnacle of her career.

But  when Lewis talks about her life, it is her humble beginnings as an Assemblies  of God pastor’s daughter in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, playing the piano,  teaching music and raising her three children that give her the most pride. Her  writing career has been a bonus that she never expected.

Although  Lewis began writing for personal pleasure at a young age, she did not seek to  publish her work until her husband encouraged her after their children reached  school age. Her first published magazine article was in April 1989. She did  freelance magazine work for the next few years until her daughter, then 12,  said one day, “Why don’t you write a story for me?”

The  result was Holly’s First Love, a young-adult  novel published by Zondervan in 1993. It became the first of 14 books in the Holly’s Heart series, which is still  being published today. Holly’s Heart was followed by her first adult novel, The  Shunning.

The Shunning, based loosely on her grandmother’s life, tells  the story of a young woman from the Amish community who marries a young  Pentecostal preacher and leaves the Plain community. The Shunning was recently been turned into a made-for-TV movie,  directed by Michael Landon Jr. It first aired on the Hallmark Channel on April  16, 2011, with outstanding ratings. The  Shunning was the highest-rated cable movie for the day and the  second-highest cable movie of the week with 2.9 million viewers.

The Shunning is the second movie based on one of her books.  The first was Saving Sarah Cain.

Lewis’  prolific writing career has produced more than 60 books, many of which have  become best sellers and garnered awards. Her books are often based on the Amish  community. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly’s work to be “a  primer on Lancaster County folklore” and offers “an insider’s view of  Amish life.”

Lewis  sees her writing as a missionary effort and credits her education at Evangel  with giving her the spiritual grounding necessary to recognize the Lord’s  leading in her career. “Evangel allowed me to continue the spiritual heritage I  had been raised with,” she says. “I learned how to be sensitive to the Spirit’s  voice and maintain a tender heart to the world and how I make decisions about  my life.”

Lewis  initially chose Evangel for the same reason that most students choose Evangel  today: the stellar academic reputation and the spiritual values for which the  college is known. She majored in Music Education with a minor in English. “The Music Department was top-notch and it was accredited”  she says. “The spiritual values were preeminent.” Her greatest memories as a  student involved Chapel. “I remember the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and not  wanting to leave those services,” she says.

Even  though it’s been almost 40 years, Lewis identifies with students who may be  reluctant to attend a private college like Evangel because of the cost. It  seemed it would a financial impossibility for her as well. “We were dirt poor,  pioneers for Christ. My parents gave up everything, and I remember often living  off of donated groceries. But I applied to Evangel and applied for a lot of  scholarships. I got grants and did work-study jobs.”

Lewis  found when God called her to Evangel, He made a way. Just like He does for  students today.

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