One Step Beyond One Step Beyond
One Man's Journey from Near Death to New Life

Gram Seed with Andrea Robinson
ISBN 9781853454622 (1853454621)
CWR, 2008 (176pp)

Category: Biography
Reviewed by: Phil Groom

Thursday 6th March 2008
You know you're reading a gripping book when you almost miss your tube stop. That's what just happened to me, just looked up in time and leapt through the door before it slammed shut on my heels.

And that's not a bad starting place to talk about this book: a close brush with missing it, a close brush with a journey to somewhere you didn't want to go, just making it onto the platform in time. Only with Gram Seed we're talking about — as the subtitle says — near death to new life, not something as mundane as a missed tube stop, even if it did make my heart skip a beat.

The book starts with a few pages of preliminary material: dedications from Gram, qualifications from Andrea, foreword from Nicky Gumbel, introduction from Gram. You can skip these if you want to, though I think you'll miss something of the book's heartbeat if you do: they set the scene, tell us that this is a story that's had ten years post-conversion in the making, not simply a flash in the pan that we can expect to hear about again this time next year as the guy slips back to the old ways.

Enough said for now: if I don't stop typing I'll miss my next tube stop. This is going to be a review in stages: why not join me for the journey?

Friday 7th March 2008
This morning, it's raining. Grey, dismal drizzle. It's about right for where I am now, halfway through the book: Gram's life has fallen apart. All the stealing and violence of his teenage years and early twenties have come to nothing. The wealth he accumulated and the reputation he'd built up for himself as Middlesbrough's tough guy have vanished. He's done time inside, too much time. Family members have died and all that remains is alcohol... and a bench on the street.

Grey, dismal drizzle. The sky itself is weeping...

Wednesday 19th March 2008
It's over a week now since I finished this book and I find it difficult to describe the impressions it has left me with. As I write, the sun is shining — briefly — and we're in the middle of Holy Week, approaching the earliest Easter within living memory. In another book, another world, another time, I'm reading of another social outcast — one whom Gram Seed is about to meet.

Friday 21st March 2008: Good Friday
That outcast, as you may have guessed, is Jesus. And the rest of Gram's book is taken up with his encounter with Jesus: Jesus, the man who, even in the midst of his own death, offered acceptance and forgiveness to a dying criminal who turned to him.

Gram didn't meet Jesus face to face, of course: he met him through some Christians who took pity on him when he was at his lowest ebb; who befriended him and kept coming back to him no matter how much he swore at them and refused to trust them; who found him in hospital when he was in a coma at death's door, when his body, thoroughly abused by alcohol and self-neglect, had given up. They prayed for him and, incredibly, against all medical expectations, he survived. They invited him to an Alpha Course — it was the offer of free food that did the trick, but the message of God's love got through and Gram's life was turned around.

I'll tell you no more of Gram's story here: you'll need to buy the book — or the DVD — for that. Suffice to say that it's a powerful story of God at work, changing lives; and the story is far from over, is set to continue through Gram's charity, Sowing Seeds Ministries, set up "to bring the message and love of Christ to prisoners and ex-offenders."

Phil Groom, March 2008

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

Sowing Seeds Ministries


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