Author to speak at church Sunday

Published 12:06 pm Saturday, April 21, 2007

The physical loss of his hearing gave Roger Wright new ears to hear God’s voice. The first-time author has turned that emotional, life-changing experience into an inspirational book, “A Call to Listen: Hearing from the Sovereign Lord.”

Wright will be in Natchez Sunday to tell about his experiences, filling the pulpit at First Assembly of God, the church where his brother, the Rev. Doug Wright is minister.

Speaking by phone earlier this week from his home in Batesville, Ark., Wright described the turn of events that led to the book.

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A retired chemical engineer who had risen to the top of his field with an Arkansas company, he was on top of the world in 2001, enjoying an early retirement that he expected to allow him time for a second career.

The next year, a medical examination revealed he had lymphoma. He endured the chemotherapy and radiation. “I recovered from that and began to feel good,” he said. “I decided to return to the University of Arkansas and pursue an MBA in finance. I thought maybe I’d open a financial planning or investment consulting office.”

It was a big step for a 55-year-old, he said. “I really wanted to see whether I still had the oomph to make it in school. So I entered the class and had a good experience.”

Near the end of the first semester, however, he awoke one morning to discover he had lost the hearing in his right ear.

“It was an emotional experience and had a big impact on me,” he said. “It took a couple of days to figure it out. The doctor said the loss was a neural problem. He told me I had lost the transmission to the ear. He didn’t give me much hope.”

Wright prayed and to read Scripture as he was accustomed to do during personal worship time each day. He found comfort in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes student Bible, “God’s Game Plan.”

One morning soon after the devastating hearing loss, he turned in his Bible to Isaiah 50, where he had stopped the day before.

“In verses 4 and 5, I found my heart leaping. I felt in my heart that my physical hearing would return but that what happened to me was more than just the loss of hearing,” he said.

The verses read, “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.”

His hearing gradually began to return. Hearing the normal sounds of everyday life became precious to him. His pastor asked him to write down his experience.

“As I wrote, other things opened up for me,” he said. “I recalled other insights in my life that I believed were directions from the Lord. I realized I had the makings of a book.”

He began to organize his thoughts, finding five insightful pegs onto which his ideas could hang.

“I realized first of all that hearing from the Sovereign Lord begins with listening and ends with obedience,” he said.

About three-fourths of the way through the book, the cancer from several years before returned. “I spent four months at M.D. Anderson in Houston,” he said. “I had some energy and ability to focus and was able to finish the book by the time I finished the treatment.”

After revisions and suggestions from trusted friends, he published the book himself and then decided to open his new publishing company to others who had books to share.

“I have a book under contract now, a wonderful story about the life of a woman in Fort Smith,” he said. The book, “A Farmer’s Daughter Amazed by Grace,” will be his second to publish under the aegis of Open Ear Publishers.

His hope is that his own book will provide others with ways to develop a keener sense of hearing with the heart, he said.

“Hearing from the Sovereign Lord” will be available at Cover to Cover Books & More, 401 Main St.; Inspirational Bookstore, 18 Kelly St.; and Turning Pages Books & More, 520 Franklin St.