I feared opening the email that contained Lawrence's story. If he writes like most pastors and evangelists, this will be a nightmare, I thought. From the beginning the theme of Lawrence's story drew me in. In the first chapter, he nails together a primitive slab door for the cabin he's built for his family.
Scores of people, from tribal friends to globe trotters enter the humble Lawrence home through this door. Each chapter is a story of one who entered. As a reader, I entered. I met the Oksapmin people. Some became life-long friends to the Lawrences, like Guyhem Bek, a “co-worker, superb translator, clear thinker, and learner” who helped translate the New Testament into his language. The book is dedicated to him.
I didn’t meet Marshall and his wife Helen until after I’d read The World at My Door. By then, I felt that I already knew them. Throughout the book, Lawrence's writing smiles with humor. Still, the reader feels his grief when one by one his four boys leave home at an early age for boarding school.
Marshall and Helen, now retired, live in Echo Bay, Ontario, near Sault Ste. Marie,where I lived until last year. One afternoon, the Lawrences came for tea. Marshall said he wasn’t sure if he should publish the book or just tuck it away. Tuck it away? I can’t remember my exact words but I tried to convey how tragic I thought it would be if the book wasn’t published. Others who love stories will want to know the Oksapmin people. Through Lawrence’s book, these gentle souls can knock on their doors.
The World at My Door was published by Guardian Books. And in 2011 it won the Award of Merit from The Word Guild.
Meeting inspirational people like Marshall and Helen Lawrence expands my view of God's work in the world. I’m glad for the day they walked through my door.