The “Year of St. Paul” is coming to a quiet conclusion this month. I have to admit, even though I was aware of that fact, I really didn’t pay it that much attention. Recently, however, I had the pleasure of reading In the Footsteps of Paul: Experience the Journey that Changed the World. This is a coffee-table book written and photographed by Ken Duncan (Thomas Nelson 2009). As Duncan states, he “tried to follow [St. Paul’s] travels in Acts as closely as [he] could bring them to life on film.” Duncan previously published two similar books on the life of Jesus, “Where Jesus Walked” and “The Passion of the Christ.” Exploring Paul’s life, however, presented a special challenge for him. Unlike Jesus, St. Paul was human, “born with the seed of sin and prone to all the same temptations we face…Paul’s adventures are an inspiration to all who are Christians and a challenge to those who are not.”
Duncan’s photos are breathtaking. The colors are intense. One feels as if one could step right into the photos. Duncan takes the reader from Tarsus to Caesarea to Stephen’s Gate to Damascus, throughout all of Paul’s travels, and finally ends in Rome. Interspersed with the photos are quotes from the book of Acts as well as insights about St. Paul from well-known Christian writers. Max Luxado writes of St. Paul’s conversion, “Alone in the room with his sins on his conscience and blood on his hands, he asked to be cleansed. The legalist Saul was buried, and the liberator Paul was born. He was never the same afterwards. And neither was the world.”
Richard Exley reminds us of the value of offering encouragement: “Sometimes the most significant thing we can do for the Kingdom of God is to encourage others. Only God knows how far-reaching our investment in their lives may be. When Barnabas took time to encourage Saul, I doubt that he ever imagined that his kindness would affect believers for twenty centuries to come, but it did and it does. Never make the mistake of belittling the eternal value of the ministry that you invest in another.” Rick Warren offers the reflection that “Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering. Be patient with the process.” Henri Nouwen invites us to discover how we can best use our own gifts to be of service to others.
In the Footsteps of Paul offers a wonderful introduction into the life and travels of St. Paul. Ken Duncan has put together an inspiring collection of photographs and meaningful reflections. As Duncan reminds us, St. Paul was a human being just like us, but he was a human being infused with the power of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul played such an important role in the formation of the early Church. He offers an incredible example for each of us of what can happen when we turn our lives over to God and let God work through us. We never know where God might lead us or whose lives we might touch.