Fiction by Tim Stafford

Those Who Hope

For fifty years Sonoma Gospel Mission has been a shelter for the poor of Santa Rosa—meals, beds and showers, plus a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Now an ambitious developer, Buddy Grace, has plans to gentrify the run-down neighborhood and move the mission elsewhere. When the mission resists his plans, he cooks up a lawsuit to put on pressure.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of an addled would-be activist, presses claims of sexual assault against Jake Dorner, the mission’s program manager. Jake is innocent, but those who read the local newspaper can only believe the worst. The publicity creates financial panic for the mission, and family disaster for Jake. The story of Those Who Hope concerns the severe stress that falls on Jake, a recovering addict. Most fundamentally, will Jake stay clean? Will his marriage survive? Will the mission founder?

Those Who Hope follows the strange conflicts inherent when drug addiction meets the traditional religion of a rescue mission amid the liberal culture of California’s wine country. This is Tim Stafford’s sixth novel. It is the first in a series set in and around the fictional Sonoma Gospel Mission.

The stories of “bluff, leathery, riotous realities” in this book are riveting. Maybe they’ll move us into our own acts of compassion. —Luci Shaw, Writer in Residence, Regent College

I treasure books that make me laugh and books that make me cry. This novel by Tim Stafford did both. It offers unsentimental hope: the true craziness of the gospel. —John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture (1995-2016)

The thing I love most about these characters is that they seem real. They are ordinary, everyday people, with the same flaws I observe all around me–and in myself. And now these characters are in my mind, and I can’t quit thinking about them. Joyce Denham, Author, Dragon Slayers and Secrets of the Ancient Manual Revealed

An emotional roller-coaster ride that is a must-read for anyone concerned about the growing problem of homelessness in America  – and the challenges, spiritual and otherwise, that face those trying to do something about it.” —Paul Gullixson, Editorial Director, The Press Democrat

 The Stamp of Glory

When aging Alabama planter Martin Nichols dies, his will contains a shocking revelation: due to religious scruples he has set his slaves free. This last act ruins the financial viability of the plantation for his four children, and scatters them in all directions.

Ambitious middle son Thomas Nichols abandons the South for New York City, where he finds success and religious faith but is haunted by a secret relationship in his past. Left behind in Alabama are his brother Martin, who loses the plantation and turns to alcohol for solace; his sister, Cecilia, who marries into high society; and young Brady, who grows up parentless and headstrong. Freed slave Catherine Nichols also leaves Alabama, heading north to find a better life for her young son.

The compelling story of the Nichols family plays out against a fascinating historical backdrop of key events such as the Nat Turner Rebellion and the Pottawatomie Massacre, and notable figures from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Through Thomas we encounter activist preacher Charles Finney and a tiny, courageous band of abolitionists, whose faith has convinced them that slavery is sin, and who give their lives to bring repentance and healing to America.

“Tim Stafford has not only uncovered a hitherto hidden piece of American history, he has breathed life into it in a way that is utterly compelling reading. That this hugely pivotal story in our national history should be essentially unknown—especially in its Christian aspect—is amazing and saddening. I am thrilled that won’t be the case for very much longer.” –Charles Colson, author and founder of Prison Fellowship

“A remarkable story that seamlessly blends both the historical and imagined. It left me feeling proud, ashamed, and enlightened, all at once.”—Philip Yancey, author

“So many of the so-called ‘Christian’ novels are only propagandistic tracts. The Stamp of Glory is truth and gospel and life all together.” –Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message


Susan Nichols comes of age in nineteenth-century California under the shadow of her domineering mother, Rebecca, an early suffragist. Susan approaches adulthood speaking out for women’s rights and even achieving notoriety as a lecturer for the cause. But she becomes increasingly aware that something is lacking in her life, especially when charming, forthright traveling salesman Fred Konicek surprises her with a marriage proposal.

Can she balance her responsibilities to marriage and home with her undying yearning to fight for women’s rights? The world does not seem as simple to Susan as it did to her mother.

A close relationship with her niece and protégé, Lucy, provides her with ongoing news from the movement’s front lines in Washington. Susan is determined to play a crucial part in the battle. She learns to rely on her growing faith as she struggles to balance all facets of her life.

Through Elizabeth and her twin sister Elizabeth we encounter real-life personalities of the suffrage movement, and we participate in exciting events that culminate with protests and arrests at the White House, with hunger strikes and forced feedings. Sisters weaves thirty years of the suffrage movement into a tapestry of a newly emerging America.

“Sisters is great! We needed a book like this. The influence of evangelicalism on the Feminist Movement has long been deliberately ignored by people who have a political agenda against the church. This book is going to make a great contribution to the kingdom.” –Tony Campolo, author, speaker and professor of sociology

The Law of Love

In the turbulent early twentieth century, a naïve young news reporter named M.K. Nichols arrives in the tough mill town of Everett, Washington, determined to escape the pious morality of his Midwestern upbringing. Meeting and marrying Darla Brzile, a beautiful actress down on her luck, Nichols finds his way to Los Angeles where the silent film industry has just begun. But Darla’s problems with alcohol destroy their dreams.

Devastated by tragedy, and responsible to raise two small children, Nichols pledges his life to the anti-alcohol cause. Moving to Washington, D.C., he becomes a top lieutenant in the movement to make America a truly drug-free nation. M.K. learns the fine points of political pressure, and sees the Anti-Saloon League’s crusade climax in incredible success: a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcoholic beverages from American life.

Yet difficulties soon threaten to undermine this astonishing reform, while M.K.’s own life becomes burdened with personal and spiritual challenges. He fears that those he loves will succumb to the tragedies of the past and wreak havoc on the future. M.K. Nichols puts a human face on the prohibition movement, bringing to life this pivotal time in American history.

I was enthralled by this book from the moment I opened the first page. It is a very thoroughly researched and well written book that reveals the Prohibition movement for what it really was, a movement done by sincere people who wanted to improve the human condition in America.” –an Amazon reviewer 


The setting is 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, the “meanest city in the South.” Martin Luther King, Jr., has come to town to confront segregation in the person of Bull Connor, the Commissioner of Public Safety. Chris Wright, young, white, penniless and idealistic, arrives by Greyhound bus, anxious to join King in the fight. He is taken in by a charismatic local civil right leader and put to work for the protest movement. There he meets Dorcas Jones, young, black, cynical and committed. Their ideals clash, but events bind the two close together as they follow King to the apocalyptic encounter between Birmingham’s black children and the dogs and fire hoses of the Birmingham white establishment.

“A reporter’s eye for detail brings this fictional tale of the civil rights movement to life. The flawed but brave protagonists draw us in, and make us wonder how we would have fared in the struggle against the evils of segregation.” –Dean Anderson, author

“A gritty, gripping novel by a master storyteller.” –Robert Digitale, author

“A masterful work of historical fiction that is ultimately a tribute to the real-life heroes of one of America’s most significant social movements.” –Paul Gullixson, editorial director, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A Thorn in the Heart

Who would possibly want to murder a handicapped teenager and his three friends? That’s what Frank Hager, the father of one of the missing boys, wonders when he realizes his son, Robbie, has been missing ever since he left a local high-school basketball game the night before.

The truth may be more frightening than Hager can imagine.

This book is a true-to-life tale of murder and family heartbreak, justice and forgiveness.

“In this wrenching novel, Tim Stafford fuels our feeling about what it is like to be a father who comes to recognize his own shortcomings and the flaws in his family, which pierce him like thorns in the heart.” –Luci Shaw, poet, author and speaker


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