By Gabriel Stovall
There isn’t much Send Relief missionary and Graffiti Church pastor, Taylor Field hasn’t seen during his four-decade ministry in New York City. But through the good, the bad and the ugly, Taylor has also seen the relentless—people who, despite rough and sometimes unfair life circumstances, have persevered. They’ve overcome obstacles, experienced life transformation and best of all, they’ve found and fostered a relationship with Jesus in the midst of hardships—in fact, it’s often because of hardships.
Whenever Taylor thinks about the people he’s encountered in NYC, he’s almost always reminded of a person in Scripture who has the same attribute of relentlessness. It’s the chief reason why Taylor decided to write his latest book, Relentless: The Path to Holding On.
It’s a timely read, given all that has happened across North America and our world, whether talking about the COVID-19 pandemic or reignited racial tensions, not to mention the various personal battles all Christians must fight at some point in their lives.
In this Q&A, Taylor explains more about his motivation for writing Relentless and how he hopes it can help the Body of Christ during our current tough times.
Send Relief: What was your main motivation to write this book?
Taylor Field: In working with people who are homeless or in difficult situations for almost 40 years, I’ve seen a variety of characteristics in people. I’ve been so impressed with the courage and the bulldog tenacity of some of the people I’ve encountered. And it reminded me that in the Word of God, some of those same characteristics of persistence and patience and faithfulness are emphasized repeatedly through the people God used in scripture.
SR: How did you go about selecting the stories you used? What was it about them that touched you and led you to believe they’d touch others?
TF: You know, I was gripped by the story of Jacob wrestling in the night. It’s a story you can go back to again and again. What struck me was that Jacob “prevailed,” and that he felt he had seen the face of God.
I thought of the stories where God takes the stance of justice and lets people like Abraham and Moses press him for mercy, and then he lets them “win.” Jesus seems to take the role of selectivity and lets the Canaanite woman take the role of including, and then he lets her “convince” him. Jesus himself points out at His arrest that He could have “won” by calling out legions of angels, but He lets himself be taken.
Like a father wrestling with his 5-year-old child, we see God in the Bible pressing His child, and then allowing himself to lose. What impressed me most about these characters was that they all had a bit of true grit, or even pluck. It’s what we called “gumption” when I was growing up. They don’t give up as they encounter life. They don’t give up, even when they feel they are contending with God. Sometimes, it’s almost as if God is pressing them to see what they are made of. After the struggle, God sometimes let them triumph. I am drawn to people with that kind of staying power, and I want to be that kind of person. But in the stories, being relentless is only one side of the story. The other side of the story is to learn when to relent. I feel that God is teaching us about those times, too.
SR: How do you see this book as a ministering tool specifically tailored for the current times?
TF: My friend who lives in Manhattan recently read the book, and he said, “New York City is Jacob.” Like Jacob wrestled with God, we in our country are wrestling with deep issues and are being pressed to the limit. Social justice, invisible disease, isolation grief, mental health, economic crisis. We will need to be relentless in order to walk through this.
GS: How has your ministry in New York City prepared you to minister this way through this particular book?
TF: When encountering overwhelming problems in New York City—mental health issues, addiction, poverty, unfairness—we need a certain kind of doggedness, backbone and gumption to make it through. As Hebrews 6:12 indicates, we need both faith and endurance, and the Bible stories highlighted in Relentless show us that “wrestling” is one of the ways God helps us develop that resilient spirit.
Relentless is a publication of New Hope Publishers.