Pastor Jordan Rau

(creator: Randall Arthur)

Rendall Arthur
Pastor Jordan Rau is an "avowed liberal", who had accepted a position in Germany with a European missions agency largely so that he could pay off a large debt he had recklessly incurred. He had done this against the wishes of his wife Susan (to whom he had been married for 20 years), his 17-year-old epileptic son and his 13-year-old daughter, who would all have preferred to have stayed in Chattanooga.

He is a big man with a "six-foot-four, 245-pound frame", and has a violent, emotional, and aggressive personality. As his wife tells him, "You're not a follower of Christ; you're a follower of Jordan Rau". He is not "saved" until right at the end of the book, by which time he has recently passed his 40th birthday. He realises then, for the first time after many years in the ministry, that "The heart of Christianity is the heart - a personal relationship in the heart with Jesus Christ ... a relationship that will change your life from within."

Randall Arthur (dates?) was born in Atlanta. He converted at the age of 12, and "surrendered his life to be a preacher and missionary at 15". He went on to serve as a missionary pastor in Europe for twenty-two years. With his wife, Sherri, he founded and organized churches in Oslo, Munich, and Berlin. However, as his understanding developed, he began to reject his earlier strict "we-know-it-all" American Christian legalist approach, a process he vividly describes in his first novel Wisdom Hunter. But when he presented a copy of it to the president of his mission agency for which he had worked for 17 years, he was fired that very same evening, and 85% of the churches that had supported him broke away in disgust. The author had "always known that the book would be controversial but believes that "its message was worth the pain of losing my job and most of my income".

He has lived in Georgia since 1998, recruiting, training, and leading short-term mission teams that assist churches in Western Europe.

Jordan's Crossing (1993)
Jordan's Crossing is a violent story in which missionary Jordan Rau (who never seems to have time to do any actual pastoring) is determined to pursue to the death the largely Jamaican gang, on holiday in Germany, who murdered his son: "He would find out who had killed his son. And he would make absolutely certain that person paid with his life" and "would die in the same painful fashion .... at the end of a knife. His knife."

The way Jordan is able to track the murderers down in Germany and Detroit does not sound too likely, and the final melodramatic conclusion, after which Jordan realises that his previous ideas about God were entirely mistaken and that he must accept the Bible word for word as divinely inspired, is not too easy to believe. It is then that Jordan manages to take on the three Jamaican murderers, viciously vanquish them, then see a vision of his dead son and "hands of love and tenderness" reaching out to him, "scarred hands belonging to an only Son who had been nailed to a deadly cross, hands that understood."

Yet parts of the story are well handled, including the description of the family's arrival in Germany in 1991 at a time when the country was struggling to assimilate East German migrants, and Jordan's desperate search for his missing son. Also of particular interest is the description of the service at All People's Church in Detroit as it obviously means so much to the author. Indeed the sermon preached by Jason Faircloth is repeated almost word for word by the author in the audio interview described below in which he speaks movingly of his own beliefs and experiences. So it really is the author speaking. He makes a plea for honesty (even "pastors hide behind smiling masks" instead of admitting that they too struggle in life just like any other believer) and for church to become "a place of needed intimacy, where hurting people can share their struggles while those struggles are still manageable. Then we must learn to rally around those hurting people with love, support, encouragement, praise, and heart-to-heart friendship."

Susan realises that "she had strayed from this simple yet fundamental teaching of the Christian life: 'You must believe that He is.' .... She realised that for years now she had allowed her faith to be undermined by the persuasive liberalism of Jordan and their denominational leaders .... 'Lord, I want to learn to trust you again,' she prayed."

The blurb describes the book as "a suspenseful, action-packed novel offering insight and healing to those affected by liberalism in the church". But, despite its obvious sincerity, the plot is not all that convincing.

The book is listed on the Random House site (Random House bought out Multnomah Publishers, the evangelical Christian publishers who originally published it), and there is a long and emotional but interesting and informative audio talk by the author on the Gathering Fellowship site in which he explains how he began his Norwegian mission work as a very loud, obnoxious and pushy pastor, but went on to experience much confusion and turmoil, during which (as in this book) he even contemplated divorce and suicide. He goes on to plead for more honesty in church. Everyone, he insists, needs help - including pastors too.

The author has his own website.

Please sign my GUEST BOOK. All comments, contributions (or corrections) welcomed!


Jordan's Crossing cover
The title is a pun on the main character's name. Jordan "crosses over" from being a liberal pastor to what the author is convinced is "the truth".
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