You do meet some interesting people in the Christian world, whether such meetings happen through real-life interactions or whether they happen through books and blogs. When it comes to Mez McConnell, I’ve met him in all of those ways—I have read his books, I have read many of the articles he has written, I have stayed in his home and worshiped in his church, and he has stayed in my home and worshiped in my church. I count him a friend and have found him to be a unique voice within the Christian world and a unique voice to the Christian world.
The Creaking on the Stairs is an account of Mez’s life, and one that has been written in a specific context and for a specific purpose. He has written it at a time when the worldwide church is reckoning with abuse both within its own walls and without. He has written it to tell of both the horrifying abuse he endured as a child and the wondrous grace he found as an adult. That makes it an autobiography that is at once grievous and glorious. It is almost unbearable in its descriptions of what he experienced, but it is stirring in its descriptions of the grace he discovered through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Mez was young, his father remarried and both Mez and his sister gained a new stepmother. For 13 years she terrorized them with her near-constant abuse—abuse that was of the most serious and sickening kinds. His childhood was marred by her violent temper and depraved mind. I think many people will echo Rosaria Butterfield when she says this is the most disturbing book she has ever read. This abuse scarred him, contributing to the beginnings of his own life of violence and addiction. As he grew from a child to an adult, he was well on his way toward utter destruction.
Today Mez pastors Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland and is the director of 20schemes, a ministry dedicated to revitalizing and planting gospel churches in Scotland’s poorest communities. Clearly something dramatic happened in his life. What was it? He heard the good news of the gospel, put his faith in Christ, and received forgiveness. But the grace extended to him called him to consider the reality of what he had endured as a child, and not only the reality of it, but also its purpose and meaning. And that is where The Creaking on the Stairs comes in. This book is his way of reckoning with the horrors of his childhood and attempting to get to the difficult questions of why and how God could allow something so terrible to happen to him. There are many ways he could answer these questions that would be simple, but they would also be simplistic and unsatisfying. So he has had to dig deep into Scripture and to uncover the vast riches of Christian doctrines like divine sovereignty and substitutionary atonement. And it’s there that he has found answers that satisfy.
Through The Creaking on the Stairs Mez blends biography and theology to teach with clarity the evils of child abuse and the goodness and trustworthiness of God. The big takeaway is not how much he suffered, but how much grace he received. The big theme is not the evil of his stepmother, but the goodness of his heavenly Father. Aileen was asked to provide an endorsement and I will allow her words to speak for me. “I finished it with the sober but thankful realisation that in its pages Mez has given us something incredibly valuable: truth and hope. He has given us truth that can be applied to even the most broken situations, and hope for that day when there will be no more weeping and no more tears. For that reason and many more, I can’t recommend this book enough.”
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