It was in the early to mid-seventies. My parents, Edwin and Lillian Harvey had already written and published a few books. Their extensive files provided ample material for further compilations. In what direction to branch out next must have been in their minds and in their prayers.
We were living in England in those days and, being interdenominational, my parents’ ministry brought them in contact with Christians from various backgrounds and denominations. One day, Tim, a young squadron leader in the RAF handed my father an autobiography, then popular on the Christian market, and asked him to read it. When my Father handed it back, Tim asked: “What do you think of it?”
“It’s well written, but does not stand up to the test of the cross,” my dad replied. “Miracles, spiritual wonders, amazing power—all these are emphasized, but not once is there a mention of the cross.”
I cannot remember the details of the ensuing conversation. I do know, however, that Tim challenged my dad to point him to biographies which did indeed pass the test of the cross! He was eager to read of men and women from various denominations and cultures who knew God intimately. My father recommended Men and Women of Deep Piety, but concluded that many of the current Christian biographies concentrated on what a man or woman had accomplished for God rather than on their spiritual journey. Not long afterwards, the They Knew Their God series began to materialize.
The characters they would choose to include in this series, my parents decided, would be varied. They would come from all over the world–England, Africa, Europe, America! They would not be confined to one denomination. It would not matter if they were Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, or Roman Catholic. If they had striven to know God with all their being—that was the main criterion. And lay people would be included, both men and women. They would represent differing points of view, vocations, and cultures. Their journeys would take them on widely varying paths, but their destination would be the same! And, hopefully, the effect upon the readers of this series would be this: “I want to know God!”
It is no longer in the seventies. We entered the twenty-first century eighteen years ago. The world is changing fast. Some of the stories in these books may be considered out-dated. The language might be classed as somewhat “antiquated.” The standards presented might seem unreasonably high, but the goal in reprinting these books is, hopefully, the same goal as that which motivated my parents in the first place—to fuel the desire which lurks in the heart of every true follower of Jesus and to echo Paul’s words: “That I might know Him!”