Band of Sisters–The Real Question

Two weeks ago I alluded to a fork in the road while researching Band of Sisters.  I’d set my mind to write a particular story.  But, after talking with my literary agent and editor, I knew something was missing.

Revelation came in NYC, after days of trekking through Ellis Island and Lower Manhattan in search of a story that would equally address the problems of human trafficking in the early 1900s and today, AND—drum roll, please . . . offer a solution.

Because it wasn’t enough to paint a picture of the problem.  There must be a solution, at least the beginnings of a solution.

Finally I returned to my hotel room, weary but satisfied with the extent of my research.  I trusted that once I’d rested and read my bounty of materials, one of the many tales I’d heard would emerge in some new and fictionalized form in my brain.

But morning after morning came, and the story didn’t.  I didn’t know the characters or their history, had no idea of their inner conflict or how they viewed human slavery or the need for abolition.  I certainly had no idea how to practically help in a need so desperate.

By the time my stay in New York was nearly at its end, I was on my knees to the Lord, begging that He show me what He wanted me to write.  Whatever it is, as long as it’s Your story, that’s what I want and all I want.

Because I knew I’d be searching, I’d taken two books with me to the Big Apple:  one that is my guide and stay—my Bible—and one that set my feet on the path to consecration to the Lord many years before—Charles Sheldon’s book, In His Steps.  In between the books I write, there’s something profound and revitalizing about returning to the roots of my journey, about seeking again the place of Christ’s strength made perfect in my weakness.

It had been several years since I’d read In His Steps.  It’s odd that I would have packed it in an already-full suitcase.  But after days of walking the history-laden streets of New York and researching dozens of story angles to no avail, discouraged, I closed the door to my hotel room and picked up my age-old friend.

I wasn’t through the first chapter when I knew that this book embodied the only question that mattered about human exploitation or modern-day slavery or how we treat immigrants or, in fact, any other issue in life.  It was the same question that the Rev. Henry Maxwell posed in In His Steps to his congregation in the face of NYC’s extreme poverty— What would Jesus do?

It’s the only question that matters because in Him is the only place we find real and enduring answers.  Does that sound simplistic?  Aren’t the best solutions to world problems often the obvious, and the most profound?

It’s the implementation of those solutions that we find challenging.  Once I began investigating the things Jesus actually did and didn’t do during His time on earth, I realized He’d already shown us what to do about human slavery–hands on. I couldn’t write Band of Sisters fast enough.

Over the next few weeks we’ll explore those questions and answers here.  They’re exciting—and all the more exciting because we can see through Scripture just how Jesus did these things—and how we can follow in His steps—practical, hands-on steps.

Let’s begin (next week) with some background on human trafficking—like why I chose NYC  1910-1911 to tell this story, and its relevancy to events today.

I’ve been looking for a good peach pie recipe this summer, but have yet to find one.  If you have one tucked away, I hope you’ll share.  Let’s crank up the ice cream maker, just incase!  Peach or vanilla–what do you say?

I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you, and to meeting you here again next week, in the garden.

God’s rich blessings for you,


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  • Hi Cathy,

    I’ve experienced this process so many times with devotionals/articles/manuscripts. Perhaps we have some preconceived ideas of where the story should go and miss the clue right under our noses.

    It resembles a good mystery doesn’t it?

    Susan 🙂

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Yes–truly a good mystery, Susan! The journey toward revelation is precious and faith building. I love how God draws us closer to Him through our own curiosity and passions.

      God’s blessings for you!

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