Dysfunctional is a pretty strong word, but that’s the term Rev. Victor Julius Grigsby uses to describe his own family—before Christ —in his recently published book: “Family Matters: A Guide for Building Godly Homes.”
The book combines “a mixture of personal testimony, biblical reference, spiritual principle,and practical living,” as Rev. Grigsby relates his family’s journey “from the edge of dysfunction to a family transformed and functioning in the Spirit of God.”
|REV. VICTOR GRIGSBY (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)
In September 2009, the Lord commanded the well-known and highly respected, second generation preacher to write. Nine months later—in May 2010—the finished manuscript emerged, and the copyright was obtained, ironically, on Mother’s Day weekend.
“When the Lord said I had to do this, He said: ‘Family is [my] assignment because the family is deteriorating…for all types of reasons.’ God said that my mission [would] be to help encourage and rebuild families. And so I said: ‘Okay Lord, what do You want me to do?’
“I fasted, prayed and did all the basics in terms of ‘God, I need you to speak to me.’ But the real nuts and bolts of the book came together—believe it or not—every night between 2:30 and 5:30 in the morning. Every night, like clockwork, the Lord would wake me up at 2:30 [during] those months—and every night I left my laptop on the side of my bed—on my nightstand.”
Wide awake, Rev. Grigsby would take his laptop and start typing until 5:30 a.m., when his wife—the former Vickie LaVerne McKenzie who he wed in 1983—would awake to go to work. In spite of his interrupted sleep, the willing scribe had no trouble functioning for the rest of the day until bedtime at 11 p.m., and then the cycle would repeat.
“I knew it was an inspired work because the Lord was speaking to me in a way that there was such a connection and a communion with [Him] that the words just started to come…words that I knew could only come from God.”
“Family Matters” was officially released on Sunday, July 25 at the historic Central Baptist Church, located at 2200 Wylie Ave. in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, where Rev. Grigsby serves as pastor. The church—founded in 1891—installed Rev. Grigsby as their ninth pastor, nearly 14 years ago.
Prior to that time, during the fall of 2009, Rev. Grigsby preached a series of eight sermons that would eventually become the basis for the publication. This collection was later released on CD, DVD and audio tape, and also bore the title: “Family Matters.”
The eight topics included: “The Functional Family;” “Superman;” “Wonder Woman;” “The Next Generation;” “Living Single;” “The Blessedness of Growing Old;” “Handling Family Crisis;” and “All in the Family.”
Kay Brown, Central Baptist office administrator, remembers the reaction of the church membership regarding both the book and the tape collection.
“It was just really exciting,” Brown said. “First of all, that our pastor—an anointed child of God—had become an author, and secondly, that he was able to package all of that information to help Central Baptist families, and to benefit other families, as well.”
Her husband, Ron Brown, Ph.D, vice chair of the church’s board of trustees, enjoyed Rev. Grigsby’s use of the common thread of characters from old television series’ to create analogies about real life issues and concerns that families face. Yet, at the same time, Brown respects the clergyman’s disciplined approach to the project, as well as his courage in presenting the personal account.
“He’s been an inspiration to me. I’m not sure that I would have had the nerve to disclose some of the details that he provided about family and used in such a way that it helped the reader to relate not only to what he was saying, but also paralleled with some of the things that we saw in the television series.”
As for the one person who inspired Rev. Grigsby himself to become a Christian and whose prayers and prophetic words were the catalyst that forever changed his life and the lives of his five siblings and his parents—Canard S. Grigsby Sr., and, Thelma Virginia Grigsby—the author points to his maternal grandmother.
Her death in 1977 would result in the metamorphosis from what Rev. Grigsby refers to as “a dysfunctional mob to a family placed on divine assignment.”
“Putting down the TV guide, my family and I picked up our Bibles,” he explains. “Who would have believed it?—that the Grigsby’s, who were as far removed from God as the next heathen clan, could enter the saving knowledge of God and become a brigade of bold believers for Christ Jesus. Ghostly families don’t become godly, neither do hellish ones become holy, except the power of God take over them.”
Going a step further, he adds: “When Nanna died, we lived [and] found life through her legacy of faith in God. The prayers she prayed for us became strength for us.”
Today, Rev. Grigsby’s own legacy continues in his seven children for whom he originally felt “Family Matters” was intended—daughters Tareka, Nekesha, Nerissa, Clarissa and Alonna, and sons Victor, II, and Brian Grigsby.
“I really wrote the book for my own family. The goal was—I wanted something in terms of my own posterity and the legacy that I would leave. When my children, and my children’s children (who are not here yet) and their grandchildren look back and say: ‘Who was Victor Grigsby that was supposed to be a preacher?’
“I wanted to leave something that they could touch and they could read and be able to at least get a pretty good understanding of who I was when I’m gone on to glory. I wanted to tell them my story of when I grew up and how I grew up [and of] my grandparents and my great grandparents.”
Besides seeking to capture his elders in literary form, Grigsby included a picture gallery and a family covenant in the book’s appendices.
Daughter Nerissa is youth pastor at Central Baptist and finds that her father’s first literary work is life-changing and appeals to all ages.
“It’s a gripping book that allows for spiritual growth, maturity and development [helping] to see where you are right now, in your personal relationship with God,” she said. “‘Family Matters’ also helps you to relate to your family members…reaching out to them—and still loving and supporting them, while showing compassion and care.
“What happened was I started to read chapters, as they were a work in progress, to some of our members who were school teachers…and they said this is work that is worthy of public consumption. And I said are you serious about that? And they said yes, you should publish it. And so, at that point, it then became an exercise in how do I get this published, after it is finished.”
Reverend Grigsby sought the permission of his family, when he was three-quarters of the way finished, due to the revealing subject matter. All of his family members were receptive and “thankful for what the Lord had allowed [him] to produce.”
Reverend Grigsby further states that his father, Rev. Canard Grigsby Sr., who has pastored the Love Hope Baptist Church in Ellwood City, Pa., for the last 27 years, is extremely proud of the work.
Family Matters” has been sent to ministers and churches throughout the country. Tapes, CDs and the paperback may be purchased from the Central Baptist Church Bookstore, by calling 412-566-1437.