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Avery Willis and Matt Willis Release Book

October 29, 2009

Oklahoma Baptist University alum and longtime outreach strategist Dr. Avery T. Willis Jr. and his grandson, fellow alum Matt Willis, recently announced the release of their book, "Learning to Soar: How to Grow through Transitions and Trials," published by NavPress.

In the book, Avery Willis, a 1956 OBU graduate, and Matt Willis, a 2005 OBU graduate, write how God uses hardships in life to align a person with His purpose. The result, they said, will allow that person to "soar." Just as a mother eagle stirs her nest to encourage her eagles to fly, God "stirs the nest" of people to encourage growth toward Him.

"When Matt suggested that we write a book together I thought, 'What a great idea!'" Avery Willis said. "The experience of writing a book with my grandson, Matt, was everything and more than I anticipated. We have always been close, but it gave us a chance to relate as adults in a work relationship that was beneficial for both of us. It gave me the chance to mentor him before he went overseas and to help him get started in his writing career.

"It is a blessing to see God's hand on this work for such a time as this when so many people's 'nests are being stirred like the eagle's,'" he said. "The book went into its third printing six weeks after it was released. So we rejoice to be partners with God to help so many people find and understand God's will for their lives and to glorify him in all things."

The book is designed to help readers discover incredible blessings in unpleasant circumstances, leave established comfort zones, respond to God's stirrings, risk trusting God and stepping out into abundant living, and soar to unimaginable heights with God, by faith.

"I received a bachelor's in communication studies from OBU because I wanted to effectively convey God's truths, such as the ones found in our book," Matt Willis said. "The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4 that he strove to communicate the Gospel clearly - that was my motivation entering OBU and my goal since graduating from OBU. We began writing the book during my last semester at OBU in 2005, and I am excited that others can enjoy it now."

The book includes a forward by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, and a preface by Henry Blackaby, founder and president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries International.

"The ways of the eagle beautifully illustrate God's nurture and purpose for his people - not only for the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land but also for you and me, today, as we encounter the challenges of contemporary life," Warren writes in the forward. "You will discover anew just how great, how magnificent, are God's ways for you. You'll marvel at how he loves you so much that he nurtures you with care, using the transitions and trials of life to help you grow stronger in Christian maturity."