TERRE HAUTE —
Initially, the concept might conjure images of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman jumping out of an airplane or sitting atop the Pyramids.
Instead, think “Lent Meets ‘The Bucket List’ in Terre Haute.”
The basis of the 2008 New York Times bestseller, “One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life,” goes beyond two guys with life-threatening illnesses sky-diving and globetrotting. That book by Texas pastor Kerry Shook and his wife, Chris, guides readers through a one-month process “to live life more intentionally.” As nearly 2,200 other churches across the country have done since the book’s publication, multiple churches in Terre Haute are participating in a “One Month to Live” challenge by reading and discussing it this month, and finishing by Easter on March 31.
That stretch includes the final 30 days of Lent — the 40-day Christian season of personal reflection and introspection of faith. The timing fits the challenge, said the Rev. Honnalora Hubbard, executive director of Terre Haute Ministries, a coalition of churches that is sponsoring the project.
“I think it’s a perfect match for walking through the Lent season,” Hubbard said.
The Shooks will take a few steps with local participants through visits to two churches on Sunday, March 17 — Mount Pleasant United Methodist for the 8:45 and 10:45 a.m. services, and Maryland Community for a 6 p.m. citywide service.
They’ll discuss “One Month to Live,” which aims to trigger a re-evaluation of life’s priorities. Those who’ve not only read the book, but also applied its stop-waiting-for-someday principles to their lifestyles, realize how much time they’ve given to selfish pursuits instead of causes that matter. “One Month” clearly contains a faith-based message to live, as best we can, the examples set by Jesus Christ. Yet, for people unconnected to a religious belief, the book urges changes valuable to anyone, “from spending more time with their families to strengthening their marriages to giving back to their communities,” as its synopsis states.
In a 2009 interview with an Oklahoma newspaper, Kerry Shook recalled meeting a Houston man — a friend of a friend — faced with a terminal illness. Shook told the guy he would pray for him. The man responded, “You don’t need to pray for me. I need to pray for you and the congregation. I’m not distracted by life anymore. I know exactly what I need to do.”
From that exchange came the book.
“This is all about living,” Shook told the Clinton (Okla.) Daily News in 2009. “In 20 years of living, Chris and I have walked many people through the last months of their lives, and we’ve never had anyone say, ‘If only I’d had more possessions, if I’d only gone sky diving.’ It comes down to relationships. That’s the priority all the time.”
In a nutshell, “One Month” tells people to harness the focus imposed by a life-threatening ailment to make changes now.
The challenge can make a difference for anyone, Hubbard said.
“There are people who’ll say, ‘I don’t know about this Christ, but I do know I need a change in my life,’” she said.
Hubbard has copies of the book for $5 (retail price is $19.99) available through Terre Haute Ministries, reachable by phone at 812-234-7100, Ext. 215, or by email at email@example.com. Copies are also available through participating churches. She’s also hosting a “One Month to Live” challenge discussion group on Wednesdays at Java Haute on East Wabash Avenue.
At the very least, the book makes readers pause, and think about what their life means.
“If you read it and nothing happens,” Hubbard said, “what have you lost?”
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.