Watch a video segment to discover people and settings that inspired the book.
© 2021 Donna Stoltzfus. All rights reserved.
One of John's many challenges is figuring out how to navigate relationships while staying true to himself.
Mennonite World Review, June 10, 2019
Review by Rolando Santiago, former executive director of Mennonite Central Committee U.S. and Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
Book Blog Interview
What did you see as the right blend between the historical and fictional aspects of the novel?
Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb
The true story of how the author's grandfather was chosen to be a minister "by the lot."
In Captive, Reuben explains to John how he became a minister. He was chosen “by the lot.”
Historically, many Mennonite churches chose (or still choose) their ministers by the lot. Members of a congregation submit names of men they think would make a suitable minister. The nominees must be a member of the church. Selected men from this list are invited to participate in an ordination service at church. Each of them chooses a Bible from a stack of identical Bibles. In one of the Bibles a piece of paper is hidden—usually with a Bible verse written on it.
The presiding bishop then opens each Bible until he finds the paper. The man who chose the Bible with the paper is immediately ordained and becomes a minister of the church.
The call to serve God affected each man and his family in many ways. This is the true story of Reuben, my grandfather, who was chosen by the lot. The character, Reuben, in the novel, was inspired by my grandfather’s experiences.