By Jessica Brodie
CHAPIN—A former English teacher and longtime member of Chapin United Methodist Church has penned her first book, a children’s book featuring a church mouse named John Wesley.
Evelyn Anne Johnson-Neal’s book, “John Wesley Church Mouse,” is told from the perspective of a mouse who watches over the staff of the fictional Chapin Church, which is based on the real-life Chapin UMC.
Johnson-Neal said she met John Wesley—the mouse, that is—in 1975 when she encountered him by accident in the little brick church across from the present-day Chapin UMC. The book takes place on Christmas Eve, when the mouse is making his rounds checking on the staff. He’s getting old and about to retire, but he has a special story to share.
Although it appears to be a children’s book, Johnson-Neal says the book, told through poetry, is really a story for all ages.
“It’s not just about Chapin Methodist, and not just for children, either. It seems like a superficial story, but it’s far deeper,” Johnson-Neal said. “An older person can really get inspiration from it.”
While the mouse recounts the history of the church and the Chapin community—the church was once destroyed by a tornado, and later a fire, and now sits across the street from its original location—the larger theme is about how God truly can use anybody.
“For example, Moses couldn’t talk, but God provided,” Johnson-Neal said. “The bigger lesson is that, whoever you are, God has a purpose, and you can do your service.”
Johnson-Neal did her first book signing May 22 and has more planned. She said the experience—of becoming a published author, opening the package of books and being able to hold her book in her hands for the first time, was “awe-inspiring but very humbling.”
She has a second book in the works now, this one a book of poetry about Edisto Island, which she calls “my most favorite place in the world.”