Author Holley Gerth is literally a byproduct of Christian retail. Her grandparents owned a Christian bookstore, where she spent countless hours as a child dreaming of one day seeing her name among the books that filled their displays.

“I grew up visiting my grandparents’ bookstore and being that little kid in the corner with a stack of books as high as she was,” Gerth shares. “Christian retail has just been a really big part of my story and where I’ve seen life-changing ministry happen.”

Gerth recalls watching her grandmother pray with customers on a regular basis, despite the fact that polio had confined her to a wheelchair.

“People would often come in and say, ‘I want the joy that you have,’ and she’d tell them about Jesus,” Gerth reflects. “I got to see so much of the behind-the-scenes ministry that goes on. All day long, people are walking into that store because they have a need. Sometimes they need a birthday gift. A lot of times, it’s someone who just got diagnosed with cancer and doesn’t know what to do. I would see my grandparents have conversations with people and pray for them.”

Life has come full circle when Gerth visits her local LifeWay store where she’s befriended a young sales associate. “It seems like every time I go in there, she’s telling me some story about a person who is going through a hard time and how she took that person over to my books and prayed for her. Yes, they’re stores,” Gerth adds, “but they’re really ministry centers.”

After 30 years, her grandfather eventually sold his store, but his legacy lives on through his granddaughter, who released Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely (Revell) in October.

“It feels like writing has always been a part of who I am,” Gerth admits. “I just happen to get to do it as my living, which really feels like a huge dream come true. I’m so grateful that little girl who sat in the corner of the store got to grow up and write books that are now on the shelves of those stores.”

—Lindsay Williams