Ken Yoder Reed has a message for fellow Christians: “Jews are God’s chosen people.”
The author’s distress over history repeating itself with a rise in antisemitism in the U.S. and Europe led Reed to write a new piece of fiction, “The Prize-Winning Story.”
“I’m grieved by 1,600 years of persecution of the Jews, often led by Christian leaders, which reached its horrible climax with the Holocaust,” Reed says.
And now, he says, it’s happening again.
Reed is a Lancaster Mennonite School graduate who lived in the area before moving to California. He describes the “shameful behavior” used by Christian leaders to justify the Crusades, pogroms and other types of force aimed at converting or destroying Jews as “replacement theology.”
For the author, proof of antisemitism supported by Christian leaders for decades is on the walls of Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to Holocaust victims in Jerusalem.
Reed is prepared for pushback to his book. He anticipates those who believe God rejected the Jews and replaced them with followers of Jesus as His chosen messengers will respond negatively to his latest release.
But Christians who believe God loves the Jews and who’ve visited the Holy Land are Reed’s primary audience. Reed’s two visits to the Holy Land, along with extensive scholarly research, provided the inspiration and background for the story.
“I love Israel ... and believe Jews will always be God’s chosen messengers, which doesn’t take away from the fact they need the Messiah as much as any of us,” Reed says.
Creatively written with colorful characters, the book takes readers on an adventuresome journey to the Holy Land. The satirical story chronicles a tour sponsored by a popular Christian radio show led by host Vladdy. Major Eli, a Jew’s Jew and Israel’s top expert on terrorism, serves as tour guide.
The tour group includes zealous Christian Zionist partisans, serious Bible students, sober-minded scientists, end-times enthusiasts and saved sinners. Traveling the path where Jesus, Jeremiah, Peter and the apostles once walked leads to new truths about Israeli life. Though the book is fictional, all of the characters are based on people Reed met on his travels to the Holy Land.
BookLife Publishers Weekly, which selected the book as an Editor’s Pick, shared this blurb about the release: “Inspired by the Canterbury Tales, this satire finds American Christians facing the reality of the Holy Land. Reed’s approach is smart and sensitive, even as he gleefully satirizes the relationship between American evangelicals and Israeli hardliners.”
Reed calls himself a “refugee Mennonite” born in Lancaster County and having resided in Fetterville. He attended Goodville Elementary School in East Earl. When he was 9 years old, his Mennonite family moved to a farm in Fredericksburg, Lebanon County. He graduated from Lancaster Mennonite School. After graduation, he worked for seven years as a freelance journalist in Paradise.
He met his wife, Kathy, a teacher in Coatesville School District, at the eatery now known as Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord. The couple married and moved to San Francisco in 1977 to work in Mennonite Voluntary Service. For 22 years, Reed owned a temp-recruiting firm for engineers in the semiconductor industry. Kathy died in 1997 from cancer. Reed married again in 2000; he and his wife Patricia live in Fremont, California. They have a blended family of six children and six grandchildren.
Reed retired in 2019 and is a full-time writer.
Reed’s next book will be a biography of Salva Kiir, president of South Sudan.
There will be an online Zoom launch party for the book at 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12. It will feature a Jewish artist, a Christian Zionist historian and an interview between Reed and Gidon Ariel, publisher of Root Source, a website that works to bring Jews and Christians together. Ariel is an Orthodox Jew.
For more information visit root-source.com/prize-winning-zoom-launch. The book is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback or Kindle eBook forms. There’s a 12% discount if purchased during the launch party.
Other books written by Reed are: “Both My Sons” (2016) and “Mennonite Soldier” (1975, reprinted 2016), both published by Masthof Press, Morgantown; and “He Flew Too High” (2009), self-published.
“If you have ever traveled to Israel, you will delight in remembering the scenes and sites visited in this book,” writes Lois Ann Mast, publisher of Masthof Press. “But if you have never traveled to Israel, this book is for you, too; but beware, you will really want to go in person after reading this book!”