The Devil in Pew Number Seven, by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, is a memoir about growing up as the young daughter of a small town minister. In the tiny little congregation, a man (who always occupied pew number seven) decided that he hated her father and wanted him out. Not just out of the church, but out of town. And he would stop at nothing to see it happen: "Dead or alive, crawling or walking." The family lived for years under constant attacks, threats, and fear from this man, their neighbor.
Rebecca’s father modeled forgiveness and praying for his enemies throughout the entire ordeal which included bombings of their home and surrounding property, threatening phone calls, and eventually a shooting which took the life of Rebecca’s mother. In the wake of her mother’s death, the widowed preacher spiraled downhill and soon died, leaving Rebecca and her younger brother as orphans.
The author’s descriptions of the fear she experienced and lived with as a very young girl built throughout the story, but the ending was the most unexpected event of all: forgiveness. She offered forgiveness to the man who had terrorized her family and caused the deaths of her parents. After he was released from prison, she allowed him into her life (she was, by then, an adult) and the two made amends. The “Devil” even arranged, while incarcerated, to pay for her and her younger brother’s college education.
I highly recommend this book to any who have experienced injustice. Because you simply cannot read this book and feel all the empathy and sympathy for this family and not be completely affected by the reconciliation that occurs. I was blown away by this woman’s story and by her depth of faith, love, and compassion.