Missouri man’s health challenges inspire him to pen religious book series

Ryan Martino
Oxford Stories

Sometimes it can be difficult to relate to historical figures. They roamed the Earth hundreds and thousands of years ago. What could they possibly have in common with modern man?

A University of Mississippi recreation and administration teacher decided to explore that idea when he self-published his first book Characters of the Bible: Finding My Stories in Their Stories after facing a life-altering heart diagnosis.

Missouri native David Waddell has now self-published a series of religous books to bring hope and inspiration to others.

It began with a Facebook post he called “10 Reasons That I am Glad That I Have Heart Trouble.” Waddell went on to bear witness to the gifts of life one often takes for granted, the grace of God that is there to help everyone find the right path, and his supportive friends.

“I had a friend who was a cardiac nurse, so when the doctor would tell me about some problems I had, she would help explain to me what it actually was,” he said. “I had a place that I did some work in in Memphis, a retirement community, that paid for a second opinion at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and they never even billed me.”

David used his personal struggle to inspire others

After the initial Facebook post, his friends asked him to put his thoughts into writing. Motivated to help others by sharing his life and channeling positive energy, he decided to write a book called Characters of the Bible: Finding My Stories in Their Stories. The book relates stories about Bible figures to his own life.

“I got to thinking about the characters again, and I started seeing in myself the same sin and stupidity that they did in the Bible as I did in my life,” he said. “So, I started relating some of the crazy things that have happened to me, some by my choice and some not, and how it correlates to Bible stories.”

Waddell said he wanted convey that the stories in the Bible are not just about those specific figures, but are about everyone. Shortly after self-publishing his first book, he wrote a second called Holiday Biblical Characters. His third is Worship Wars: The Kings Lead the Battle to Spirit and Truth. The last is about the worship of Biblical kings and the way they influenced the worship of people in that time.

“The kings weren’t necessarily worship leaders,” he said. “In fact, they weren’t worship leaders at all, but they were very influential in how their country did worship, so the way their behavior coincided right with worship behavior.”

Waddell believes in the importance of faith and the power of mentoring. “One of my main mentors was the guy I worked for in college, when I worked for a recreation center for the church,” he said. “He had me working in day camps and children’s camps as a counselor from the time I was a junior in high school and through college.”

He said he wasn’t good at sports growing up, so he sought other ways to be a leader. “I played in the right field in little league baseball, and anyone who played in little league knows what that means,” he said. “I enjoy acting and theater. I enjoy social gatherings, and what I discovered is that through this person, even in the church, you can lead through these kinds of things and be effective at it.”

Waddell believes his strong Christian faith resembles the way he approaches his work.

“I believe my belief in humanity and their worth for what they can do,” he said, “and this is one of the reasons I train them with my religious background. As much as I enjoy teaching, when I sit down and start putting these things together, that is when I am really at peace.”

Longtime friend and colleague, John Longworth, said Waddell’s faith drives him to do good, and his books are a way to use his own personal experiences to help others.

“His faith compels him to make a positive difference in the lives of others,” he said. “He does this by investing in people in meaningful ways in order to equip them for success. David has an uncanny way of building from his own experiences and telling stories in a manner that helps the reader benefit from his experiences.”

Waddell has no plans to leave his teaching job to pursue writing full time, but he plans to do it after retirement.

“When I step away, and my pension and social security starts taking care of my monthly income, that’s my day of finishing my fourth book or starting a fifth book,” he said.

He remains committed to his spiritual journey through authorship, and his family, including 10 grandchildren.

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