In fact, if there had been a vote in my high school graduation class for “Least Likely To Be a Lawyer,” I would have won unanimously. Growing up, I was the little boy whom other kids laughed at — I stuttered. I have many unfond memories of other students laughing at me as I tried to answer a question or recite a poem in elementary school, junior high, and high school. I had absolutely no public speaking experience all through high school and during my four years at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Two weeks before I graduated from Emory, I still didn’t have a job or career goal. I finally got a job as a Federal Investigator for a couple of years in Birmingham, Alabama. Then I moved to Washington, DC, where I worked for the federal government as a Management Analyst (government efficiency expert!).
I still didn’t have any particular career direction, so I decided to get some more education. Since I was living and working in our Nation’s Capitol during the infamous Watergate scandals (when many lawyers were arrested and imprisoned), I came up with the idea of going to law school. After being accepted at several of the law schools in Washington, DC, I called my mother back home in Georgia to tell her that her son was going to be a lawyer. With all the kindness she could muster, she softly and kindly remarked:
Terry, you can’t be a lawyer. You can’t speak!
Since my primary virtue growing up was stubbornness, I went to law school anyway at American University in Washington, DC. While in law school, my life changed in two dramatic ways. First, after my first year of law school in 1973, I married Janella Witherspoon, a beautiful young lady from back home in Georgia. Then, in the summer before my last year of law school in 1975, both Jan and I, finally realizing that we were sinners in need of a Savior, trusted in Jesus Christ.
During my last year of law school, still having zero public speaking experience, Jan and I started attending a good Bible-teaching church in Northern Virginia, where we soaked up the Word of God like a couple of wanderers in a parched desert. A few months later, our pastor asked me to teach in a new Children’s Church program at church. My instantaneous reaction was quite vocal: “Are you crazy! I can’t speak!” But my pastor wasn’t looking at the little, stuttering boy named Terry; rather, my pastor was looking at a stuttering young man whom God could mold into a servant of God. Since that day, I have argued in courtrooms and preached in churches all over America; but I have never forgotten that God gave me a voice so that I could tell boys and girls about Jesus.
After law school, I worked as a trial attorney for the U.S. government in Washington, DC, for seven years. Little did I know, when I hurt my back in 1983, that God was about to give me another voice — writing novels for young adults and adults. Back then, the recommended treatment for back injury was extended bed rest. Lying on my back for two weeks, God gave me the vision of writing a novel about my favorite Bible character, Enoch, the man who walked with God in a wicked world. Before the two weeks were up, I had written the entire novel, entitled Methuselah’s Father. Over a period of two decades, the first novel expanded into a seven-book series entitled The Methuselah Chronicles, set in the time before the Flood, tracing the lives of Enoch, Methuselah, and Noah as they overcame, through faith in God, the same problems facing families today.During those same decades, my legal career led me to a private law firm in Cleveland, Ohio, where I practiced law for eleven years in the specialized area of religious liberty. When I was in my mid-40s, that law firm made the decision to move to Florida, an area of America incompatible with my fair Irish skin. It was then that God gave my pastor, John Jones, in Ashtabula, Ohio, the vision of starting a legal ministry out of our church, helping other churches with legal issues in the area of religious liberty. Since 1995, I have been the legal director of that legal ministry, advocating on behalf of the religious liberty of churches.
My writing has continued unabated since I first hurt my back in 1983. In the late 1990s, while still in the midst of bringing the first 1,500 years of human history to life in The Methuselah Chronicles, the Lord led me to begin writing political thrillers in contemporary America. Drawing upon my background in Washington, DC, these contemporary novels explore the same themes as The Methuselah Chronicles — set in the time before the Rapture, tracing the lives of Johnny Banneker, Rick Stone, and Jeff Jackson as they overcome, through faith in God, the same problems which mankind faced in the wicked time before the Flood.
As a Christian author, attorney, husband, and father, my life verse is Psalm 73:24: “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” I am so humbled that God has given me a voice to encourage and inspire people of all ages to walk with God, as Enoch did thousands of years ago, until God takes us home.