During his time as a student at the University of Florida, Bangs resident Rick Phelps toyed with the idea of someday writing a book.
“I didn’t want to force words onto paper for the sake of making money,” Phelps said. “I wanted my words to come from the heart, come to life on the page, mean something to somebody and most importantly, glorify the Lord.”
Serving in the United States Army for 19 years, Phelps' military career has taken him to several active duty missions in the United States to help with wildfires, tropical storms and hurricanes and one overseas deployment to Iraq. Because of all the difficulties he saw during his one year deployment in 2005, Phelps decided to write a book based on those experiences.
“I knew there was a story that I wanted to tell,” Phelps said. “The Lord placed it on my heart to share those words and the story just started coming to life in my heart.”
Phelps started writing his book last September, which follows the life of a 24-year-old staff sergeant in the U.S. Army who is deployed to Afghanistan and finds himself dealing with infidelity, death and finding his identity while dealing with all the heartache and anger.
“Although 'For God and Country' is fictional, I created the story based on the emotional ups and downs I saw my fellow soldiers experiencing,” Phelps said. “The book focuses on the decisions he makes and the hardships he has in Afghanistan and at home.”
One of the major turning points in the book is when the soldier meets an Army chaplain.
“His life takes a turn after a chance meeting with a spirit-filled chaplain,” Phelps said. “He reminds him [soldier] of where he came from and how his life could be different.”
Phelps has been searching for a publisher for his book since November and in late March, he found a company interested in picking up the book.
“There are literally thousands of publishers out there, some legit, some not,” Phelps said. “Many of the companies had unrealistic demands, but I found one of the most reputable companies on the market that said they want to publish the book.”
With his publisher, Phelps has been given the opportunity to select the cover art for his book.
“I know what I want in my mind,” Phelps said. “I just need someone that can design the vision I have for the cover.”
Phelps is expecting the book to hit shelves sometime before the end of the year, and he hopes his book will help guide others who find themselves in similar situations.
“My hope is that when anyone reads this book, they realize that despite anything the world throws at them, they can find peace and love through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” Phelps said. “My life has changed in amazing and wonderful ways since I committed my life to the Lord and I want others to feel that same awesome, unconditional love.”