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Breaking down walls: In his most recent book, author Ryan Rush ’93 tells how the challenges his family faced allowed him to tear down his own spiritual walls

Breaking down walls: In his most recent book, author Ryan Rush ’93 tells how the challenges his family faced allowed him to tear down his own spiritual walls

By Jennifer Meers Jones ’08

Five years ago, Ryan Rush ’93 thought he pretty much had life figured out. He had a job he loved, serving as pastor of a large Baptist church in Austin. He and his wife of nearly 20 years felt settled and content, raising two preteen daughters and already planning for the day when an empty nest would allow time for big trips and easy living.

Then along came Lily.

The Rushes’ youngest daughter, now 4, was a surprise baby. She was born with a large hole in her heart, which led to many emergency hospital trips and surgeries. Then, at age two, Lily was diagnosed with autism.

The agonizing experience of watching helplessly as his daughter suffered inspired Rush’s latest book, Walls: Why everybody’s stuck (and nobody has to be).

“In Walls, I have the privilege of telling the story of how God brought down walls in my own life through some very difficult, painful days in the life of our youngest daughter,” Rush said.

According to Rush, walls are anything that block you from an intimate relationship with God.

“There is a gap between what we know of Jesus at church and the Jesus we really know at home. When we overcome the barriers that separate that relationship, we begin to see real change.”

Rush, who has pastored Bannockburn Baptist Church since 2004, has spent the last twenty years speaking and writing about connecting church life and home life. He published his first book, Home On Time, in 2003 and has hosted radio and television programs on the subject of family life. He currently hosts a daily talk radio show on Austin’s WORD 98.5/99.3.

Rush grew up in the Austin area and decided to attend UMHB to play basketball for the university.

“Mary Hardin-Baylor was the perfect fit for me,” he said. “I immediately fell in love with the family atmosphere. Every element of campus life I encountered was a new blessing.”

Rush said the insights he gained from the professors and friends he encountered on campus helped prepare him for a life of ministry.

“It’s hard to imagine my life without the influence of my days at UMHB. It was more than academic rigor; it was a culture that challenged everyone to dream big. To do anything less than change the world would be a disservice to my time at Mary Hardin-Baylor.”

This fall, Walls will be the centerpiece of the “City Walls” campaign in Austin. Congregations from multiple denominational and cultural backgrounds–representing nearly 100,000 Austinites–will participate in small group Bible Studies built around the concepts of the book. Read more at faithbreakthroughs.com