'Left Behind' author Jerry Jenkins talks new book, fatherhood and why he believes we're in the End Times

New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins.
New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins. | Pure Publicly

New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins believes the world is close to the end as described in his popular biblical End Times fictional series, Left Behind, and has penned a new novel titled after his son’s hit series “The Chosen” to continue spreading the hope of Christ before it is too late.

Jenkins has written nearly 200 books, with 21 of them making The New York Times' bestsellers list, and he has no intention of slowing down. 

"Well, I don't see any place in the Bible that talks about retirement, and at the risk of sounding falsely modest, I really think I'm mano gifted. I don't sing, or dance, or preach — writing is all I do, so I feel obligated to keep doing it,” Jenkins said in an interview with The Christian Post that can be watched below.

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His latest book series has released the first volume, The Chosen: I Have Called You By Name. The book was inspired by the record-breaking crowdfunding series “The Chosen,” which was created by his eldest son, Dallas Jenkins. The book explores the difference Jesus Christ made in the lives of those He called to follow Him and how that encounter forever transformed their lives.

Jenkins has sold 72 million copies of his Left Behind books and says he'll continue working because he believes the world is experiencing some of the scenes fleshed out in his Left Behind series that he co-wrote with Tim LaHaye.

"We're getting pretty close to the end. I think we have more reason to believe that now than we ever have,” Jenkins said. “It seems like something is coming. You just wonder how long God can carry us as sinful and restless as the world is.” 

"On the other hand, God has a different economy of time than we do. He wrote in the Bible 2,000 years ago that the end was soon or imminent, and that we should watch and wait. We've been doing that all these years,” he continued. “The Bible also says that to God, 1,000 years is as a day and a day is as 1,000 years. So if He waits one more day, in His mercy, that would be 1,000 of our years. Yet I don't think there's any more prophecy that needs to be fulfilled before the end, so it could be today as well.”

The 71-year-old novelist stressed that all believers have a mission to share the Good News regardless of how bad the times become. 

"I think it's obvious that we need to be at the task of being sure that the fewest people possible are left behind,” Jenkins said. “That means sharing our faith and being bold and not holding back. Sometimes we're so afraid to offend somebody, we could offend them right into Hell. I think we need to just be overt, and it's on them what they do.”

The author maintained that Christians should not force anything on anyone nor “ram the Bible down their throats,” but it is the believers' responsibility to help share the truth. 

“I've heard even atheists say that if ‘Christians really believe that I'm going to Hell without Jesus, I want them to tell me because it would be an insult if they didn't,' which I think is a very insightful comment,” he noted.

Although extremely successful, Jenkins said he could not be prouder of his son, Dallas, for the success of his series. At the top of 2019, “The Chosen” became the No. 1 crowdfunded media project in history. It now has $20 million in crowdfunding and has been viewed by over 90 million people in over 180 countries, and has served as an overt message of the impact Christ has on His Creation.

"It's a phenomenon that has just astounded me, and obviously, I'm proud,” Jenkins gushed. “Of course, I always think that everything my son does is brilliant, but I'm not always right. In this case, I have been right, and everybody seems to agree.” 

"Dallas said that he used to be known as Jerry Jenkins' son. I am now known as Dallas Jenkins' father. I couldn't be prouder,” he continued. “I'm just thrilled to see what he's doing, and I know his hearts in the right place and that he's got the right motives. It's just been a thrill.”

Jenkins' new novel accompanies season one of the series and adds more detail to the storyline. 

The book synopsis invites readers to “Experience the life and power of the perfect Son of God as never before — through the eyes of everyday people just like you. The Scriptures contain many abbreviated stories, and in the novel, Jerry strives to flesh this out while staying true to the biblical account. Readers will welcome the deeper storytelling that honors the truth of what Jesus would say and do.”

The writer said he really enjoyed writing the novel because it "seemed like the right thing to do." He described his journey as a fun experience.

"One of the things that you can do with a novel that you can't do on screen is you can have people's inner monologue. What are they thinking and feeling, and how are they reacting when these events occur? That's what I bring to the table. It's been fun,” Jenkins told CP. 

Jerry B. Jenkins and his wife Dianna Louise Whiteford and children Dallas Jenkins, Chadwick Jenkins, and Michael Jenkins.
Jerry B. Jenkins and his wife Dianna Louise Whiteford and children Dallas Jenkins, Chadwick Jenkins, and Michael Jenkins. | Pure Publicly

The proud father of three said Dallas and the show's co-writers outlined the sequence of the stories in a way that made it “easy” for him to expand on.

"It's really fun to flesh out the stories, and I've just had a ball,” he added.

Jenkins is now working on the second book.

His inspiration, he said, comes from God, adding that, for him, writing is a joy because he gets to explore every character.

"That's the fun of being a novelist is that you really get to be each character as you're writing them. Depending on who the character is, I could be a child, I could be an old woman, I could be somebody my age and my gender, but it's just a matter of imagining,” he explained.

“You try to put yourself in their place and say, 'How would I feel if I heard this? If I saw this? If Jesus said this to me, how would I respond?' We see on the screen a lot of the responses from these people, but to tell what's going on in their mind, that's the fun and the creativity part of being a novelist.” 

"A lot of novelists talk about trying to get in touch with their muse, and it's some sort of ethereal, mysterious visitor. But for the Christian writer, it's the Holy Spirit,” Jenkins clarified. “I don't know quite how that works. All I know is that I need to surrender, get out of the way and listen, and try to do what God leads me to do.”

The Michigan native, who assisted the late Billy Graham with his memoirs, said he sees a deficit in this generation and the generations that follow because young people don't often take time to stop and be introspective, which can affect how they are led by God.

"I was inspired by the late evangelist Billy Graham, who once told me that God doesn't keep it a secret from us what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to search the Scriptures and pray without ceasing,” Jenkins advised. “He [Graham] did it, and that made a big difference in his ministry.”

While serving on several boards of Christian colleges, Jenkins revealed that he sees how many young people are suffering from anxiety. 

"One of the things I've been struck by is that this generation has more mental illness and more anxiety and more problems that need counseling than ever,” he said. “That says something to me, that maybe you're not reflective enough and maybe not spending enough devotional time. 

"As millennials get to the point where they come to the end of themselves, and they feel that anxiety, they really need to slow down and search the Scriptures and pray and seek the face of God. What does He want them to do? What does He want them to think about? That will make them more introspective and more reflective.”

Jenkins admitted that he finds his own personal reflective time “humbling."

"Sometimes we get into the rat race, and we're working to increase our brand, or our visibility, our platform, our online presence, and that type of thing. You can really get tired of yourself after a while. That's really not where life is,” he insisted.

After 50 years of marriage and having three sons who are now grown, Jenkins said he's learned what is really valuable.

"When we look back on what's important to us. It has nothing to do with fame, or popularity, or success, or money or anything. It's really our relationship with God and our relationship with people — our families and the people we love,” Jenkins assured. 

"Somebody said that 'Nobody's going to say on their deathbed they wish they'd spent more time at the office.' Everybody's regrets have to do with not spending enough time with the people that they love and care about,” he shared. “So I find, when I am reflective, I think about what's really important in this life, and it has nothing to do with things; it has all to do with people.”

'The Chosen: I Have Called You By Name' released on March 2, 2021.
"The Chosen: I Have Called You By Name" released on March 2, 2021. | Broadstreet Publishing

Jenkins said he wants his new novel, The Chosen, to direct people to pursue God.

"I really would love to have the same response that I know Dallas is looking for from the TV series. That is that people do not substitute this for their Bible — that they go back to their Bible, check it out, see what it says. Go back to church, return to their relationship with God or begin a relationship with God,” He said.

"The whole point of this series and the books is to show how God makes people something other than what they've been. That how they encounter Jesus. He changes them, transforms them forever. That's available for anybody today. So that's what we want the takeaway value to be.”

2020 was eye-opening to everyone, Jenkins added, noting that he hopes everyone learned the true value of life and family.

"2020, obviously, was a very sobering year, and in many ways, it pushed us back into the 1950s when people stayed home a lot and didn't have things that could record their television. If they wanted to see something, they had to watch it when it was on. They played a lot of games; they talked to each other, they interacted. So there were some upsides to that.” Jenkins said of the pandemic lockdowns. 

Having written close to 200 books and been a writer for much in life, Jenkins concluded the interview by saying that his greatest accomplishment is his relationships with those around him.

"I think I want on my tombstone to say that I was a good husband and father and grandfather,” Jenkins added. “It comes down to people. There may be some accolades about how many books I have written or sold or that type of thing. But again, that's not the important thing. The important thing is: What did you do with whatever gifts God gave you? And how did you treat the people that mean the most to you?”

The Chosen: I Have Called You By Nameis now available to order wherever books are sold.

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