He’s more than Out to Pastor

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

Preacher or author – it seems the Rev. James Snyder can be both.

As a teen, he wanted to be a writer but he also wanted to serve the Lord. “I thought I had to choose one or the other,” he said. However, the more he learned of the life of A.W. Tozer, the more he realized he could be both.

Snyder penned his first book, “The Life of A.W. Tozer,” about the late pastor nearly two decades ago and won biography of the year with “Christianity Today.' The book was recently re-released after the publisher went bankrupt and Snyder found himself with the rights to the book. The updated biography, which hit bookstores in February, has a new chapter, photos and a forward.

The Family of God Fellowship pastor recently was offered a six-book contract with Regal Books to write more about Tozer, who died in 1963. For about 20 years, Snyder, who writes a column weekly called Out to Pastor for dozens of publications including the South Marion Citizen, has collected an array of tapes of the late author’s sermons dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. To add to his collection, Snyder contacted the Tozer children and inquired about the remaining tapes, which were part of his estate.

They gave Snyder the audios and the rights to use them for the books. “Nobody had ever asked him for the rights,” Snyder said. The father of three, who has been married to wife, Martha, for 38 years, has since collected more than 500 recordings of Tozer’s that have not ever been published.

With his expanding collection, Snyder has taken the tapes and started compile them into books. The first book in the series based on Tozer’s sermons is called “The Purpose of Man” which was released at the same time as “The Life of A.W. Tozer.”

To help him get through the hundreds of audio recordings, Snyder has hired a woman to transcribe them. “That’s a big job and I have a lot of other projects going as well,” he said. He then compares the transcripts to the tapes and cuts out portions that are not necessary for the book, such as introductions. Then, he develops a theme and eliminates more material that does not support the theme. “But, I wanted to keep the voice of Dr. Tozer,” he said. Snyder does not insert his voice into the books based on Tozer’s sermons.

Though his sermons were originally preached more than four decades ago, they are still relevant today. “He wasn’t a timely preacher or writer, but a timeless preacher and writer,” he said. Snyder said Tozer, who he described as a “private man,” spoke about things that are true no matter when they are spoken.

Snyder’s next book based on Tozer, “Reclaiming Christianity,” will be published in the fall of 2009. “He Dwelt Among Us,” which is based on the gospel of John, is expected to be released in the spring of 2010.

“In my opinion, that book is probably going to the best in the whole series,” he said. Tozer spent about two years preaching about John. “It’s him at his very best,” he said.

To date, Snyder has written about 22 books and has been endorsed by the C.S. Lewis Society.

Beyond books

When he isn’t busy writing a book or preaching to his congregation, Snyder has plenty of other projects that keep him busy. For example, he has spearheaded a home for pregnant teens at his church. The project, which is funded through donations and will be free to the girls, recently had the walls raised on the first home.” We’re building as we get the money,” he said.

The church is lacking about $16,000 to put the roof on the home. His goal is to have six houses for pregnant girls. At the home, the teens will get assistance with adoption and schooling, among other things.

The State of Florida’s Choose Life license plate program is designed to help girls through the adoption process. If the first home were for girls who plan on putting their child up for adoption, the Choose Life program would cover the expenses.

In addition, Snyder is considering starting a Bible study group on the Corridor, after being asked for the last couple of years. The class would be non-denominational group. “The main engine will be discussion,” he said. Snyder in visions the class as being informal, Bible teachings group.

And, if that was not enough, Snyder can be heard on the airwaves each Sunday morning on WOCA 1370 AM at 9:30 am.

For information about the Bible study, email jamessnyder2@att.net or call 687-4240. For more information about Snyder’s books, visit www.awtozerclassics.com or contact local Christian bookstores or major bookstore retailers. For additional information about The Family of God Fellowship visit www.whatafellowship.com.