Joanna Watson is an inspirational Christian author and speaker, with a passion to see ordinary people encountering God in extraordinary ways. In a world filled with darkness, she seeks to share stories and reflections that show how God’s light, hope and miraculous power break in through the cracks.
Hello! It’s good to have you here!
My name is Joanna Watson, I am a Brit … and, strictly speaking, I could be dead.
In August 1999, while on holiday in the USA, the car I was in plunged over the edge of a mountain road. It hurtled into pitch black darkness, down about 50 metres – until it crashed to a stop, flipped, and ended on its roof. Upside down and held in by my seatbelt, I had fractured my spine in two places.
Put simply: God saved my life.
The story of what happened is one of ten true stories (all featuring people known to me) contained in my book, “Light through the Cracks: How God breaks in when life turns tough”. United by a common theme, each story tells of ordinary people encountering God, in extraordinary ways, in the toughest of circumstances.
As a result of surviving my car accident, I love telling stories of God at work, and my stories are frequently described as “encouraging”, “inspiring”, and “faith building”.
But my love of storytelling began much further back.
Growing up in the south of England, my home was full of books, a dad who read (and still reads) prolifically, and a mum who taught me to read before I started school. Weekly visits to the local library never seemed to quench my insatiable appetite for books.
At the age of nine, I won a national creative writing competition – I unearthed the certificate, a few years ago, when clearing out my parents’ loft – and my love of storytelling was birthed.
As a teenager, I devoured the Christian biographies of people like Brother Andrew, Corrie Ten Boom, David Wilkerson, and Jackie Pullinger.
At university, I started to journal, something I still do now – taking time to note down the ways I’m observing God at work, and how he’s answering prayers.
In the early days of my career, I worked in law and one of my favourite tasks was writing the ‘Case for Counsel’. I loved recalling all the details of a client’s story, with substantiating evidence, knowing it would equip and enable a barrister to plead the client’s case before a judge.
It still matters to me now that, where possible, the stories I tell can be verified.
Later, after I moved to work in international development, I found myself responsible for equipping, empowering, and raising people up to become advocates, in order to hold their governments accountable. It was a daunting task – working cross-culturally – so I would draw on the experiences of others, sharing real life case study stories, to cast vision for the possibilities in different country contexts.
Over the years, if ever I’m invited to preach, teach or speak, I always weave stories into what I say.
Suffice to say, storytelling is in my DNA.
For many years, those closest to me urged me to share my stories and reflections publicly, not just privately. I finally relented, in January 2014, when I set up my blog and started writing my book. Seven years later, the former is going strong, and the latter has just been birthed.
It isn’t easy, and I still feel vulnerable, penning my words and putting them out into the world. But I also know I need to do this – to use my storytelling to point people to Jesus.
So I write about “light through the cracks“.
It’s because so much of my life experience seems to have been about seeing, witnessing, hearing about, or living through, situations of pain and suffering, hopelessness and despair, poverty and injustice. Unanticipated accidents. Unexpected unemployment. Complicated relationships. Serious illness. Health crises. Financial strain. It doesn’t matter what it is. On face value, life can feel full of darkness.
Yet, as Leonard Cohen once famously sang, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” (From the song ‘Anthem’, on his 1992 album, ‘The Future’.)
The Bible, too, referring to Jesus, tells us, “The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen God shine into the darkness, reside in the midst of the darkness, and dispel the darkness. He has a knack of finding the cracks – and this is what I write about.
Sometimes the stories are my own. Other times, they are stories I’ve heard, discovered, been told about, or simply stumbled upon. All of them tell of ordinary people encountering God in extraordinary ways in the midst of difficult circumstances.
My prayer is simply that what I write builds faith, encourages hope, and inspires expectancy for the miraculous – by pointing my readers to Jesus.
… Joanna seeks to show that God’s hand is at work in life’s events far more than we realise … Her encouragement to us is that God is still real and still does miracles, though we may have to battle in faith and persistence in prayer, and cling on to his promises, to see them. Each story, deeply moving in its own way, certainly provoked me to stir up once again my belief in the God of miracles. – Rev Mike Beaumont – author, pastor, Bible teacher, and broadcaster