The Kids’ Pit by Judge Roy Sparkman
The Kids’ Pit by Judge Roy Sparkman provides an insightful look at contemporary threats to religious freedom and how quickly a person may become trapped in a moral hole that seems impossible to escape. A Christian pastor faces time in prison for his teachings from the Bible as his family endures mounting persecution and media harassment. His teenage daughter grows resentful of her father and the high price that the family has paid for his stand for freedom of speech. When she tries to help a friend navigate an unwanted pregnancy, she finds herself embroiled in a complicated and highly politicized situation that takes a dangerous turn. Revealing how recent interpretations of law and constitutional rights can impact religious freedoms, The Kids’ Pit is a compelling cautionary tale, but also provides a hopeful framework for escaping some of the moral and legal threats to a Christian way of life.
Preston Curtis is a pillar of his community, preaching love and respect for all mankind, until a zealous public official tries to make a name for himself by exploiting a controversial aspect of Curtis’s sermons.
Curtis is sentenced to nine months in prison because he will not recant the teachings that he has shared. The Kids’ Pit opens as Pastor Curtis enters the Oregon Correctional Institution in Portland but feels more like he has just entered the lobby of Hell. Within the first few days, he experiences humiliation, violence, threats on his life and a conspiracy to frame him for the stabbing of a fellow inmate. He confides his dwindling hope to his best friend and legal counsel:
What I really want is to be able to witness and minister to these men while I’m in here. I believe God has a purpose for me being here, and he can make something good out of this. But I’m hoping it’s not just to get murdered or to face a false charge that could leave me here the rest of my life.
As this trial of faith grows to seem insurmountable, Curtis questions the higher purpose that God might have for him. Even as his courage begins to waver, he encounters a small group of inmates who share his belief and become inspired by his words and deeds behind bars. Against all odds, Curtis tries to find ways to help his fellow prisoners, including those of other religions and cultures.
As the pastor receives news of a miraculous glimmer of hope in his plight, his daughter, Sarah steadily descends into the darkness of her own despair. Initially her trial is the unwanted media attention and bullying from her peers as a result of her father’s sentencing. As the book unfolds, Sarah’s only true friend at her new school entrusts her with a terrible secret that draws them both into danger. Chelsea falls prey to her soccer coach’s advances; when she discovers that she is pregnant, the only person she can confide in is Sarah. After being directed by a school counselor to seek assistance from Planned Parenthood, Sarah and Chelsea are hastily guided to a terminal solution for the pregnancy. While Chelsea is grateful for her friends compassion, but the two of them are reluctant to move forward with the only solution provided to them:
Chels, you know I’m here for you. I keep wishing we could talk to someone we know and could trust who didn’t seem to be pushing for an immediate abortion. It does feel rushed, but I don’t know what else to do.
The path to obtain the procedure without the knowledge and consent of a legal guardian leads Chelsea and Sarah to increasingly dangerous circumstances. After staying in a seedy hotel and being chased by a gang of threatening men, they find themselves in dire need of help and guidance but reluctant to rely on their parents.
Author Roy Sparkman demonstrates considerable knowledge of legal statutes, as well as moral laws of Christianity and the word of the Bible. His considerable career as General Counsel as well as District Judge make him an authority on legal matters, and his leadership experience in various religious organizations provides a background in the complicated issues and challenges that Christians face in the modern era. In The Kids’ Pit, Judge Sparkman builds suspense and creates intrigue through the emotional plights of his characters, while also providing some insight on how to successfully navigate these complex situations.
When the desperate girls finally confide in a trusted friend of the Curtis family for help, their situation drastically improves. While the odds are stacked against Sparkman’s characters for much of the book, we are also given a glimpse of the redemption possible for those who rely on the Lord as well as one another. In addition to the important themes explored in this book, Sparkman includes scenes of excitement and action that make The Kids’ Pit a nail-biter. There are fights in prison, confrontations with opposing political groups and even a shadowy figure named Deathstalker who relentlessly torments the Curtis family. Elements of intermittent peril maintain a quick pace to the story, while the more thoughtful messages on family and faith make this book truly unforgettable.
Publish Date: July 16, 2023
Author: Judge Roy Sparkman
Page Count: 338 pages