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Real-life stories: Wracked by illness or disability

“I Became Severely Agoraphobic And Couldn’t Carry On Writing”

While unemployed with long term illness, Sheila Jacobs was at her lowest. Walking her dog was the highlight of the day. Many of the people she met were the unemployed, sick or elderly.

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This situation was the unlikely inspiration for her fast-paced futuristic thriller Watchers set in a world where to be old or infirm means banishment from society, and its sequel Watchers 2: Renegade, which has just been published.

‘The thing that surprised me most was that non-Christians really enjoyed the story,’ says Sheila. ‘It’s action-centred, like a cross between 007, Blade Runner and Terminator. The Watchers are a nightmare police force working for a corrupt government. Mike Merrick is the book’s anti-hero, the best Watcher there is.’

 In Sheila’s ‘future’, Christianity is illegal and the faithful in hiding. Mike’s out to get them. But he’s injured in a fight, and is rescued by the very people he’s after.  Can he complete his task to eliminate them? You’ll have to read the books to find out! Sheila explains how the idea developed and how her faith has sustained her during challenging times. 

‘I didn’t become a Christian until I was 25. A lot of bad stuff had happened in my life. My Granny came to stay and she was a ‘born again’ Christian. All I could think at that time was “Oh no, here come Jesus!”

 ‘We went to a Christian bookshop and a book called I dared to call Him Father caught my eye. I bought it and read it. I didn’t know you could know Jesus like that – as a real person. I said to him, ‘If you’re really there, you handle my life because I can’t handle it anymore”. I immediately felt a peace and sense of joy I hadn’t known before. Then, of course, I realised I’d have to go to church!

‘Up to that point I’d loved writing although I’d never had any fiction published. I was working in a graphic design agency as a typesetter. I felt increasingly that God wanted me to do something in full-time Christian service. I started studying with London Bible College by extension studies. ’Then Sheila was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a debilitating disorder of the ear, which left her unable to work for about eight years.   

‘My confidence went and I became severely agoraphobic. I couldn’t work; I couldn’t do anything at all. I remember saying to God at the time, “I just wanted to work for you.” I’d even given up a long-term relationship because I felt God wanted me to be single. And God said to me quite clearly, “I don’t want you to work for me. I want to do my work in and through you.”

 ‘The only thing I could do was saunter down to the river with my dog. My writing had always been a bit of an idol. I’d always wanted to get a novel published but no one had been interested. So I said to God, “That’s it, I give it up. If you don’t want me to write, that’s fine.”’

 Within weeks Sheila had spotted an advert from a Christian publisher asking for new authors. She sent off some sample chapters – ‘the last time ever!’, she said to herself – and was stunned when they asked for and then published the full novel. Her second book, Rollercoaster Time, won an award.

Seven books later, with improved health, Sheila needed a job but found it hard to get one. After a Christian meeting, she realised she’d ‘been robbing God of praise for years. I couldn’t stop praising God for a solid week’. Days later she was offered freelance work editing Christian books. ‘From that time to this, eight years, God has supplied me with enough work to be able to edit full time. I’m totally dependent on God, and he hasn’t let me down yet!’

Sheile Jacobs 2009


Watchers and Watchers 2 published by VeriteCM Ltd, price £9.99 or £18 (including p&p) for both titles. To order call Tel 01903 241 975 or go to www.veriteshop.com

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Story and photos reproduced by courtesy of Challenge Newsline

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