Discord, disaster, betrayal – Paul’s service is becoming increasingly complicated. All who serve with him learn that preaching is one thing but pastoral care is another, and personal example is paramount.
”I know nothing of her story yet, only that Loukanos told her of the Christianoi, and she needs our help.”
She met the girl’s slate-coloured eyes. They were dull and defiant.
“I am nothing. Why do you serve me?”
Persis opened the door.
“We look most like Christ when we serve,” she said simply.
As his helpers face challenges of their own they race against time to complete the work. Where it will end will shock them all.

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Author(s): S.J. Knight

Binding: Paperback

Pages: 660

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Weight1.1 kg
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Christadelphian

2 reviews for A Time to Serve – Book 6

  1. Sis. I. Smith

    I have just finished reading the aptly named A Time To Serve, which takes up its narrative from the last part of Paul’s third journey. It is really unimaginable and difficult to process all the pain and suffering and determination that Paul the Apostle went through. However, it hadn’t really hit me so much till reading the last 3 books, how much sacrifice his companion brothers and sisters made to support him in his work. Loukanos is one of them, one of those enigmatic people that draw me to want to know him more. Smart, caring, intelligent, introspective, courageous – yet still vulnerable. The care he has for his horse was well done, and touching, reminding me that when we are overwhelmed sometimes it is a ‘dumb animal’ which shows us plainly what trust is.

    I love the way the Acts accounts are woven into the story, and while reading I am definitely living in the first century. The ebbs and flows of the original family of Dan ben Ammiel etc, also are a delight as they weave in and out of the intricate tapestry that the author has created. I have been quite emotional at times as I empathise with the described events as they relate to our own day to day ecclesia and life. (I have often thought that this series would make excellent audio-books, especially for bedridden or blind Brothers or Sisters, though finding a suitable narrator might be a challenge.)

    The research is meticulously done, from details of the coastal and terrain descriptions right down to the accuracy in small details of Loukanos tending to his horse Hippocrates. I love the twists and turns of all the connective incidents, and as the narrative is so densely layered, I get more out of each book in the series as I reread them over time. It’s all the more exciting to me as they are real people out of our beloved scriptural chronicles. I’m acutely aware that these word pictures ‘were’ most likely real for someone living in those times, and that so many of the brothers’ and sisters’ names mentioned ARE real, even if some of the detail is fictional.

    As human beings, we have this innate ‘need to know’ about people’s lives that we are invested in, or care about. These are very real people to me, being the product of literal biblical characters. Even the fictitious ‘filling out’ of their lives and circumstances, does not take away that those circumstances could have been possible.

    It is surprising – and satisfying – to realise that as well as various ‘old friends’ from previous books, more than 60 people who are actually named in the New Testament record, crop up in A Time To Serve. Pivotal main characters aside, the others appear in minor incidental roles or are just referred to in passing, but the grounding is there. Researching the particular mentions of time and place in the scriptures of these characters must have taken immense research, brain power, and time-line graphing. I was very impressed with this work from that point of view alone.

    The book being true to its historical and cultural setting, it does not shy away from the harsh realities of the pagan world in which the Gospel was preached, and I found the accounts of abuse and extreme neglect very hard to read and process. Though carefully written without offensively gratuitous detail, the incidents are nevertheless emotionally graphic. But they do not take away the power or value of the work, they only highlight the power of the Gospel to Save; all walks of life come to Christ. We who have had a privileged life need to see this and have compassion and understanding for such damaged folk.

    Overall, I loved the book, which maintains the high standard of the previous five. There are powerful ‘lessons’ in various passages which I have found thought-provoking too. I was gratified with the story, the hope and fulfillment of family lives, and the poignancy and emotion expressed in joys, sorrows, and introspection.

  2. Alex Szollo

    A TIME TO SERVE: a sprawling emotional roller-coaster that shines light upon the twilight of the most famous of Apostles

    Those who know me are well-aware of my penchant for Biblical fiction and are probably aware of the A TIME TO… series, by Australian author SJ Knight, as I have named this series as being my favorite Biblical fiction series of all time. And this book, which deals with the latter part of the ministry of Apostle Paul has once more reminded me why this is true.

    To me, Biblical fiction is all the more well-written when the characters come across as full-blooded human being who go through the whole range of emotions. It has been a while since I reviewed the previous novel in this series, A TIME TO STRIVE, and I missed the characters dearly. Because, let me tell you: Ms. Knight has the gift of making characters, whether they be historical or fictional, come across as people one could encounter on the street. People one can grow to care for. It is often said that good books are like journeys, and I believe that this series is the most akin to a journey that I have ever encountered in all my years of reading Biblical fiction.

    The novel is set, as the title of the review suggests, in the latter part of the ministry of Paul, and just like the others in the series, it does a masterful job at conveying the sense of community that the early Christians had, and does so in a manner as far-removed as the typical cheery Sunday school pictures as possible. Paul and his faithful companions are shown here as wholeheartedly faithful, but never just that. With all their faith in Christ, they have challenges, especially given the fact that they are living in a world where both Greeks and Romans are still very influential. The ekklesias face the issue of seeking to stay relevant in a largely paganized and superstitious world, where people are comfortable with giving sacrifice to gods, and not so much used to a God who gives without asking for anything but a humble, thankful and kind heart.

    I was especially fond of the scenes that took place in the home of stalwart but huge-hearted Lydia of Philippi, who is fleshed out here, as the Bible only speaks of her position in said church. One of the most emotional scenes in the novel involves her, and truly shines in showcasing the aforementioned sense of community that the Christians share. There is adventure and emotion aplenty, from the rebellious son of Simon of Cyrene, Alexander, causing trouble, to Zosime and Ligeia, who are young women well-acquainted with the tendency of human beings to exploit and sully their neighbor, but become equally well-acquainted with the neverending love of God; to Loukanos, who develops a truly inspiring bond with his trusty horse, Hippocrates. Readers will have plenty of characters to grow fond of and follow through gripping, emotional adventures that test both their bodies and their souls.

    The words “labor of love” could not be any more fitting for a series of books than they are for this one. The world that Ms. Knight invites her readers to is so carefully crafted, so rigorously researched, readers will have as hard of a time saying goodbye to it as this reader has had. And speaking of this reader, I was brought to genuine, heartfelt tears near the ending of the book, where Alexios the Wise, a character inspired by yours truly, sends an encouraging letter to Paul and is revealed to have a child who seems to have what modern-day people know as Down Syndrome. The author here used a saying of my own: “No child pays for the sins of his parents. If a child is born different, that serves the growth of his parents’ souls.” It was one of the most emotional experiences that I have ever been through as a reader, as it is such a great blessing to see my own words, from a deeply personal experience, being moulded by the skilled, blessed hands of a gifted, genuine storyteller.

    As per usual, I highly recommend A TIME TO SERVE to all Biblical fiction enthusiasts, for its engaging, thrilling, Grace-rich story and incredibly credible characters. Thank you dearly, Ms. Knight.

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