Chris McQuay, a senior pastor at Christian Life Center, talks about her new book and other issues at the church in Tinley Park, IL, on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 29, 2013 6:04AM
Chris McQuay believes that people need to face their fears head-on.
In her case, however, she faced her biggest fear face down.
A senior pastor and co-founder of the Christian Life Center in Tinley Park, McQuay said she always had an aversion to heights. She conquered that fear in the summer, hurling herself out of an airplane — with a parachute on her back — from three miles up.
What she apparently doesn’t fear are words, having recently written her fifth book, although McQuay described her first outing as an author as “an excruciating process.”
In her newest book — “From Pain to Purpose: Learning to Thrive Not Just Survive the Challenges of Crisis” — McQuay returns to a subject she’s delved into in two prior books. She said she didn’t want the book to read like a self-help manual and instead describes an allegorical journey of a young girl named Gabriella, hoping that readers struggling through their own crises can glean from her experience something useful that will help ease their pain.
While everyone at some point in their life experiences a crisis, their first thought isn’t always to turn to others outside of their own circle of family and friends for help, McQuay said.
“We start with our own coping mechanisms and support network, but sometimes we need extra help,” she said.
McQuay first wrote about surviving through a crisis in “Broken Vessels,” a book borne out of her own life-changing event. While writing about her own crisis was “cathartic,” McQuay said she struggled to find the right words and that she was her own worst critic.
Her husband, Jerry, also a senior pastor and co-founder of Christian Life Center, would come home to find typed pages, torn in half, in the trash can. He would retrieve them, tape them back together and give his wife some words of encouragement, McQuay said.
“I do enjoy words and putting them together,” she said.
“Broken Vessels” was written more than 20 years ago, and McQuay said it took about five years before she finished her second book, “Behold Thy Handmaid,” exploring the role of women in ministry. That was followed by “Out of the Septic Tank,” which also dealt with thriving after adversity, and “Pictures from Heaven,” a collection of devotionals.
McQuay said she “loves to help people who are hurting,” and that is what she strives to do through her writing as well as her ministry.
“I want people to have the opportunity to live the successful, rewarding and peaceful life they were meant to live,” she said.
Through Christian Life Center, McQuay and her husband have traveled the globe on missionary work, visiting countries including Russia, Croatia, Turkey, Indonesia, Trinidad, Uganda and Kenya.
Their trips might involve working in an orphanage or installing a well, but McQuay said she also spends a great deal of time talking with women in the countries she visits. She counsels women to help them understand their value, which is a foreign idea to some, particularly in countries where abuse of women is commonplace.
“A lot of countries not only allow it, they promote it,” McQuay said.
She and her husband live in Monee, have been married for 40 years and have three children. During her travels, McQuay said, she has “experienced some of the most amazing things.
“I have friends in 20 to 30 different nations, I’ve been on safari a couple of times, fished for piranha in the Amazon, been inside the pyramids, saw the sun rise over the Himalayas,” she said.