By Debbie Adams
Author Kevin Lewis grew up in Vinton and graduated from William Byrd High School in the Class of 1988— he was a wrestler and football player. In 2010, he left Vinton for Buffalo, Minn., where he opened a gymnastics gym. After 11 years, he sold the business and moved back to Vinton. He is currently a voice-over artist, and he hosts a fascinating podcast, “The Next Step with Kevin Lewis.” He is a father and a speaker. He has also just completed his first book, “Can You Trust Me This Much?” which provides a message of hope in trying times.
On one of his podcasts, Lewis interviewed beloved William Byrd High School coach and teacher Barry Trent, one of the “great influencers” who “had a life-changing impact” on Lewis’ life. Lewis says that in high school he was convinced that he was going to be an Olympic wrestler. He “learned a lot from Coach Trent off the wrestling mat,” and that “there is more to life than competition.” He especially remembers that Trent ended every practice with prayer.
The theme of his podcasts is “This life is a journey, for many a spiritual one. But spiritual or not, life is hard and sometimes turns upside down leaving us in search of what’s next. Don’t be pressured by the world saying you have to have it all figured out. Because it’s not true. You are not alone and together we just have to figure out ‘The Next Step.’”
The title of his new book, “Can You Trust Me This Much?” derives from a mass shooting at a medical clinic in his town of Buffalo, Minn., that brought him to ask that question.
“On February 9, 2021, a mass shooting occurred in our town,” Lewis shares. “I didn’t know it then but a conversation with a student and a reply from a podcast host were about to change my life.
“The town was on lockdown and then we got the ‘all clear’ to hold classes—and return to a sliver of normal. One of my five-year-old students asked if I had ‘heard about the man who took the gun and shot the people dead?’ I was not prepared to try and answer his question. I thought back to when I was his age. All I could think of was how five-year-olds shouldn’t have to think of questions like this.
“That night I got a reply from podcast host and New York Times best-selling author Bob Goff,” Lewis continues. “I had emailed him that morning asking him to be thinking about our small town. He assured me of his prayers, but hoped I was taking notes. He thought I had a book or two in me.
“I laughed because at the time I was working six or seven days, 60 to 75 hours a week running my gym. But Bob was right, and I just made my long days longer. I’ve heard about the hard life challenges we all face–the really hard ones, the ones that make you wonder, ‘If there is a God, how do these things happen?’”
Lewis considered the story of the mustard seed. “God asks us to have faith the size of an itty, bitty, tiny mustard seed. Now that shouldn’t be so hard, should it? And yet, so many times we experience difficult, even traumatic events in our lives that make us ask questions like, ‘If God loves us and wants the very best for us, why does He allow such horrible things to happen?’”
Each time Lewis prayed, he heard the words, “Can you trust me this much?” Those words kept replaying in his mind over and over again. He eventually wrote those six words down on strips of paper and Scotch-taped a mustard seed to each one. He proceeded to place the strips in random places. They were in his house, his business, on his computer, and even in his car.
What he discovered was how the traumatic events we all face in life can either destroy us or bring us to a place where we realize our pain has a purpose. “And when we finally get real and have the crazy courage to face the big hurts–those life-changing events– we can answer with certainty, ‘Yes, yes, I can trust you this much!’”
In his book, “I wrote about all the uncertain times from my life. Everything from Little League life lessons through making the decision to sell the business. I talk about working up the courage to ask the prettiest girl to dance, and lessons learned from wrestling and football. I even share about the time in high school I nearly committed suicide, the beautiful story of how a teammate and a coach came alongside to help and how all of that led to me unknowingly move 1200 miles away, buy a gymnastics gym, coach young ladies in a sport I’d never participated in, and how that ended up saving the life of one of my young athletes who was contemplating suicide.
“What I found was the answer I wished I’d had for my five-year-old student the night of the shooting. That even in those really hard circumstances we can find courage, hope, and purpose,” Lewis said.
“I eventually sold the gym but kept writing and was able to attend a writers’ conference out at Bob Goff’s place, The Oaks. The book is done and comes out this June. It’s already been picked up as a featured book for FaithBox.
“Unfortunately, those really hard events and mass shootings continue, making the message of my book more relevant than ever before.”
New York Times bestselling author Goff says of Lewis, “There aren’t too many writers who share struggles like a skillful Sherpa leading the reader on a journey to the blast radius of Jesus. Kevin’s stories do just this and equally as important, he connects us to our own. In ‘Can You Trust Me This Much?’, Kevin helps us see the events of today and even those in our past– the good, the bad and the scary– as nudges of The Spirit. All of it coming together to move us closer to the version of the person Jesus is sculpting us to be.”
Author Kimberly Stuart has said, “Kevin Lewis is a truth teller, even when the truth requires uncomfortable courage. ‘Can You Trust Me This Much?’ is a story with big laughs, ugly cries, and real life. This book is a refreshing, relentless reminder of just how much we are loved and that we are not ever alone.”
You may preorder Lewis’s book at www.hizworks.com and follow him on Facebook and Instagram. Check out his podcasts with Coach Barry Trent and Camp Bethel Director Barry Lenoir at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-next-step/id1613368608.