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Former Camden resident publishes first novel
Light in the Darkness cover

Christian author Jean Phillips has released her seventh book but first novel, "Light in the Darkness," a story of how the light of Jesus dispels spiritual darkness in a rural district in Zimbabwe, Africa.

Phillips and her late husband, Gene Phillips, served more than 40 years as Southern Baptist missionaries in Zimbabwe and other southern African countries. After retirement as full time missionaries, the Phillips moved to Camden and served as active members of First Baptist Church. During that time they returned several times to different countries in southern Africa as mission volunteers. In 2011, they moved to Martha Franks Retirement Community in Laurens, where Mrs. Phillips currently resides.

"Light in the Darkness" is a work of fiction, but many of the characters and events are based on real people and circumstances the Phillips encountered during their years as missionaries. According to a press release, the book realistically portrays Zimbabwean customs and life while it illustrates the redemptive and life changing power of God’s grace.

The story follows the lives of Samson, a 16-year-old street criminal at the beginning of the book, and Ruvengo, an angry, hate-filled 13-year-old. Their encounters with Christian influences eventually lead to a powerful transformation as they win their own battles against spiritual darkness and begin to live in the light of Jesus.

"If you’ve never been to Africa, this book will transport you there. If you have been to Africa, you will sense the familiarity of the characters, the setting, and the events that transpire," Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C. Russ Reaves, said. "The book is a work of fiction, but the realism of the unfolding narrative convinces the reader that there is a lifetime of real-life experiences behind this story."

Donna Fort, a current missionary in Zimbabwe, said Phillips draws on her 40 years as a Zimbabwe resident and her love of the Shona people to tell "the story of two unfortunate young people who are found by God's love and who choose to serve Him."

Phillips says she praises "the Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the idea for this book and for encouraging me when at times my ideas were at a standstill . . . and for making the writing of this book a learning experience in my walk with Him." Phillips says that she hopes the readers of her book will be "challenged to serve the Lord more fully."

"Light in the Darkness" is available for purchase at the Kershaw Baptist Association, 14 East DeKalb St., Camden and the Martha Franks gift shop in Laurens. It is also listed on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Previously, Phillips co-authored with her husband "Gleanings from God’s Word", a daily devotional book. In addition, she authored "Rescue," a book recounting the Phillips’ kidnapping in Lesotho; "The Watered Garden," the story of her mother's life; The "Meaning of Christmas," a children’s book; "Trophy of Grace," the story of the life and ministry of her late husband; and "Poems from the Heart," a collection of poetry written at various points throughout her life and ministry.