October 10, 2012

Meet Author Tom Wheeler: One Man’s Heart for the Least and the Lost and Giveaway

Hey friends,

*** Before we meet my friend, Tom Wheeler, I want to announce the winner of the two Women of Faith tickets.  Congratulations to

Debbie W. who posted at 11:50 a.m. on October 9th.  If you are unable to attend please let me know so I can select another winner.

Please contact me at deuteronomysix@aol.com with your name, e-mail address, and phone number so we can get you your tickets.***

Today I am excited to introduce you to a great man of God.  His name is Tom Wheeler.  I can’t wait for you to hear his story and his heart.  Tom has written a book entitled Second Wind which shares much of his testimony and God’s call on his life to serve the least and the lost in our society.  A study guide for this book will be available November 15th.

Many of us leave our comfortable place in life for a a few hours or a weekend to serve the poor, and Tom did just that for  a while.  But then he heard God call him to more.  Tom not only left his comfortable place but also sold most of his worldly possessions to move in with the men to whom he had been ministering.

I will never forget the Christmas he invited the women in my Bible study and our families to a Christmas party in his neighborhood.  We were all nervous because it was not in the “best part of town.”  But we were intrigued with Tom and his ministry, so we took our families.  We shared a meal with Tom and his men and enjoyed a tour of their neighborhood.  I was so moved not only by Tom’s love for the men but also by their great love for him.

Below please find my interview with Tom.  I know you will love his heart for the poor as much as I do.  It is rare to meet a man like Tom who willingly did what Jesus asked the rich young ruler to do…give up all his worldly goods. Tom did just that.  And he will be the first to tell you, God blessed him with so much more!!

Tom, tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

I grew up as an Episcopalian, but my family went to church more for traditional reasons rather than for reasons of conviction. It was more of a Sunday tradition. For most of my young life, I was living life the way I was raised to believe it was meant to be lived: be a good kid, go to college and graduate, get a good job, make a decent living, start your own business, etc.. But I did all that and still felt empty. No matter what I got, it was never enough, even working for Apple Computer, living on the water, and having my own airplane at age 26.

My mom and dad were loving parents (and hardworking) and would have done anything for their children and often did. They raised me and my two older brothers better than most could expect, but without the spiritual foundation needed. But God had a plan!

When my life wasn’t working out as I expected, I began to read and study the Bible. In fact, I began teaching 12-year-olds at my Episcopal church about the Bible when I knew nothing about it! Talk about a God thing! It was then that I understood I had been living life in a way that was the antithesis of the Bible. God slammed the brakes on my old life and set me off on a new course – His.

I met Jesus. It was 1993. I ended up selling out of the company I had co-founded and took a job at Forest Hill church where I became an elder. I was then hired as the asst. director of discipleship in charge of the groups and the membership class. Feeling called to the poor, I left Forest Hill and took a job as a front door supervisor at the Uptown Men’s Shelter. Soon thereafter I moved into a poor neighborhood in northwest Charlotte where Hoskins Park Ministry resides today. I became an ordained pastor in 2006.

I got married to my best friend, Kate, on October 4th, 2008. We live in Charlotte with our ex-street dog Luci, who is going on 13.

I love the title of your introduction to Second Wind, “Never Enough,” share with us what it means and why you chose this as your introduction.

My expectations of life have always exceeded life’s realities. Once I started to “succeed” in a worldly way, ie: making a good deal of money, having a lot of nice things, starting my own business, I was not satisfied. Life was just “never enough” for me. Listening to other people, reading some of the more famous people’s biographies, and then just watching the news made me realize I was not alone. Even for those who don’t admit it, I don’t think life is working out the way they thought either, even the best of us, when we truly think about it. But then I read the Bible!

Why did you write Second Wind?

I wrote Second Wind for three reasons.

The first is because of those who are on the bottom and need hope. I wanted them to know the biblical explanation for their situation; the fact that God made them uniquely for a worthy purpose; He will fulfill that purpose in their lives if they trust in Him; that they haven’t blown it by their poor behavior or choices, and how to find true hope. I really want those on the bottom to read Second Wind to find new hope no matter their circumstances.

The second reason is for those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. I wanted to share the story of the Gospel in a simple, direct, and practical way. I hope those that read Second Wind will understand their need for Jesus and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Life is short. Soon it will be over for all of us and then reality will hit – the reality that we don’t really die when we die physically, but where we end up is based on our choice regarding Jesus. I wrote this for the lost. I also think many Christians will find some trinkets in Second Wind too, that can encourage them in their walk.

And finally, I wrote it to create a product that people could buy to help fund inner city or urban work with our poor rather than having to constantly beg for money. Sadly, people and organizations that want to help the poor are competing amongst each other and the local church for funds. I don’t think that is the way God intended it, but it is the way it is. Having come to that understanding, I have decided to be different by creating products and services that help us generate our own funds. Second Wind is the result of that strategy. I wrote this as a funding instrument for the poor.

Many of us “help” the poor, but you chose to move in and live with and among the poor? What gave you the courage to take this step?

I don’t like trying to help people without having the experience to actually do so. I too have many opinions about things, but I try to keep them to myself until I have some expertise in the area I get involved with. I needed to understand the environment of the homeless, and to do so I had to move in and live with and amongst them. That has given me the knowledge and ability to be part of the solution rather than just another well intended opinion.

Your book is filled with great stories, share one of your favorites with us.

My favorite is my friend who has a mental illness and who was also addicted to crack cocaine (when I first got to know him). Once when I went out of town to care for my father, I asked him to watch my house (at the time he had given up drugs – so I thought). When I got back I found out he had sold all of my valuable possessions in exchange for crack cocaine. When he finally apologized to me, he told me that while he sold all my stuff, he was thankful that he had the state-of-mind not to sell his guitar (which was the only thing he owned of value to him)! That still cracks me up. He sold all my stuff but was comforted by the fact he didn’t sell his guitar! If I didn’t think God owned everything and that He allowed it to happen for the sake of my friend, I would get upset. But, I trust God and so I laugh at that story.

What do you want your reader to walk away with after reading Second Wind?

For the readers that have little hope, I want them to find hope in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I also want them to realize they have an enemy, a real enemy, and to stop thinking everything going on down here on earth is random or coincidental. We are in a spiritual war and when we don’t believe that, we are already defeated. I want them to read the Bible and believe that Jesus is bigger than their problems!

Second, I want those who don’t believe in the Bible or Jesus to give it more serious consideration. We spend so much time considering ways to reach financial freedom while disregarding eternity as the “unknown” when we have a book that spells it all out for us, fairly clearly. This book was written to simplify the Bible’s truth in an effort to get them to read and study the Bible themselves.

And third, I want the reader’s concrete support to help the poor. The book needs to get into the hands of those on the streets, but the homeless cannot afford to buy it and I cannot afford to just give it away. I want the readers who believe in the book and its cause to buy more than one copy and either give them out to those who need help themselves, or buy them so that I can get this book into their hands. This is more than a book. It is a resource that helps a cause from someone experienced enough to know.

Tom, thank you for sharing your heart with us today.  Tom has been gracious enough to donate four signed copies of his book for our giveaway.  For a chance to win one of these copies, please leave a comment today sharing a time in your life when your love for the things of this world kept you from pursuing something to which you know God was calling you.

Blessings,

 

Comments

  1. …I don’t see any names listed for the winner…..

  2. Suzanne Howard says

    Thank you, Tom for sharing. God is dealing with me now about my love of stuff. I’m at home and seeing too much. My closet has too much. There’s too much…everywhere. I’m actively serving and pursuing my calling, but I feel like I’m dragging too much. There’s a saying in the military “high speed, low drag”, that’s not me. Thank you for being that example.

  3. Lillian Nwachukwu says

    God bless Tom. His story is very inspiring. I am truly blessed and feel like Tom is writing for someone like me.

    My life has been so unfulfilled lately, I feel a big void inside of me wanting to be filled up.
    I have been through the rough road lately and sometimes feel like I am not worth living because of my experiences lately, things have been really tough for me and all that I have wanted is to just be non existent since so much has failed me.
    I have embraced Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Savior. However, I feel like I have not really achieved the kind of relationship I want to have with Him. I want to live a selfless life, and pray always that He reveals Himself to me and speak to me. I feel He is not answering me yet and this is not making it easier for me. I need to hear from God, my heart yearns for Him everyday.
    My desire a selfless life, to give all the love in my heart to the service of the poor and needy. Would like to work in their environment. All in search of peace and fulfillment of life and making another’s life beautiful. I would love to have a copy of Tom’s book as I think it will help me rediscover me. Thank you.

  4. Sheila Payne says

    The names of the winners did not come through on my posting of your blog.

  5. I am sooooo excited about this book! Don’t enter me to win because I want to buy a copy. But because I work with homeless families I can’t wait to read this! Wendy thank you for sharing Tom with us!!!!

    • Thank you Stephanie!!!!! Every book sold helps the poor and I really appreciate your support. I want to do a lot more in Charlotte and can …. believe it or not, my goal is to sell 1 million books. Only God! But if we do, we will fund a lot of work in Charlotte! -Tom

  6. I honestly can’t think of a time when that has been the case, not being willing to give up the “things” of this world for the sake of following His command or will for my life.

    However, I can say that there have been times when I’ve been just plain lazy. He’s given me a calling and there are days…months where I drag my feet getting things done for Him and His plan. I trade time with Him for sleep, wasting time on the computer, or even using time with other people as an excuse to procrastinate. Everyday I strive to do better, only to find myself stuck in a rut. Oh, I get plenty of other things, good things, accomplished, but sometimes I think they get done at the expense of what God has called me to do…

    <3 Heather

  7. I can’t say that I’ve ever felt God’s calling. But I know I could do without a lot of the stuff that seems so important. And I know I’ve hesitated giving when I could afford to do it.

    • I know how you feel. But I think we are all called …. remember Isaiah 6:3: “here I am, send me!” said the prophet. God was asking who would go for HIm. Sometimes we just need to convince Him we will go if He asks. None of us were created for nothing! (See Psalm 139).

      You might really enjoy Second Wind! GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE! AND NOBODY CAN DO IT BETTER THAN YOU!!!!!

      : )

      -Tom

  8. This sounds like an incredible journey he has been on. We are about to change our life for God, it has been a process but it is the time where we either jump in with both feet or turn around, and I think we are jumping in. Thanks of sharing this author with us. I need to read this book!

  9. What a great testimony. I often wish (especially now that I am mostly home bound) that I could help others. Really rough week. Once again back to square one doctor wise (not really if count things that have been ruled out) & am struggling to find a reason to keep trying. I KNOW God has a purpose for my life, but really hard to see/believe right now.

    • Hi Holly,

      I really think you will like Second Wind. It might give you the “Second Wind” God wants you to have. May He continue to bless and guide you. Remember, we are all being molded into eternity here on earth. Hard to live that way, but still true. -Tom

  10. I just think I found my next book to read! Love Tom’s story that you shared. I don’t know too many folks that would really follow through with sacrificial giving! I see Tom doing that because he has given up so much of himself and has invested in the lifes of others. Can’t wait to read the rest of Tom’s story! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Thanks Donna. I just struggled with the world long enough and am stubborn enough to want to experience the realities of others more than talk about it. Talk got very cheap for me. Thanks for wanting to read my story! -Tom

  12. About eight years ago, I felt that I was being called to go on a mission trip to India. Because of where we were financially (as a result of our love for the things of this world), I was not able to go on that trip. I am still believing that God will open doors for me to go on a mission trip. Whether it be to India or somewhere else.

    • Hi Lori,

      Having studied Mother Teresa for years, I too wanted to go to India. I made it to Ethiopia instead. I saw such poverty but also a lot of joy from folks who didn’t depend on things to make them happy. I was ready, willing, and able to stay in Ethiopia but I felt God clearly sent me back to Charlotte to work with His Homeless.

      God has a plan for our lives. And He is faithful to complete it. But we have to go, when He asks!

      Keep the faith! -Tom

  13. I think that sometimes I forget about faith and look to the world to fix my problem when only God can I know he wants to be my first choice not the worl

    • AMEN! We try to fix things are way but look at how well we are doing! Our gods cannot save us in times of true need. Only God can and He wants that job for Himself! -Tom

  14. Not sure of a time where I couldn’t give something up but there sure are a lot of times I wish God would show us where we should go. This is the first time in our married life that we have a few worldly things but we would like to use them for God’s kingdom rather than just thinking that they are “ours”. Maybe this is where God wants us but we are in our fifties with my husband hating his job, our house that we rent is for sale so we don’t really have any stability – I don’t know, I just can’t see that God really cares that much for the small things.

    • Just like we care about the little things in our kids lives, God cares about the little things in our! He cares. Think about how blessed we all are in this country, even on a bad day. You will likely enjoy Second Wind if you have the change to read it. I talk about this a lot! -Tom

  15. My stronghold of money kept me from the blessings that I knew came with tithing. God has taught me over the last few years in a deep and powerful way that I own nothing and everything I have came from Him.

  16. Tom and Wendy,
    THANK YOU for this! Like Stephanie, I’d like to purchase Tom’s book, so please don’t include me in the drawing. There were times in my life where I’ve taken such strides for financial “freedom.” But I think God knew my potential because He broke my body down so I could clearly see what finanaces cannot buy. Then He blessed me with the most generous husband… Yet he wasn’t giving from his overflow… He was giving generously as he made ends meet by God’s grace paycheck by paycheck. So now to read Tom’s walking the talk… I am inspired to do more… To live more… To give regardless of the rough environment or the lack of resources because that gives God the platform to shine all the more! Thank you again. I admire you both more than words can explain!

    • Hi Noelle …

      Thanks! Your comments mean a lot. What is interesting is that what we do here on earth does echo into eternity. Its not just a line in the Bible … we are storing up treasures in Heaven. : )

      -Tom

  17. Awesome comments! You all are wonderful! Keep the faith! -Tom

  18. Thank you for all the encouraging comments you left Tom. I know your words have blessed him so much. Winners are announced on my new post!

    I have so enjoyed reading your stories and comments. You are such a blessing to me and all those who guest post on my blog.

    Love,

    Wendy

  19. This interview is about Tom’s first book published several years ago.

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