Book Spotlight: Zach Williams’ ‘Rescue Story’

Posted on Monday, March 4, 2024 by Lindsay Williams

Book Spotlight: "Rescue Story" Zach Williams

Zach Williams took his first sip of liquor when he was in sixth grade. He got his first taste of marijuana when he was a sophomore. He spent decades of his life in an awful cycle with alcohol and drugs. But then, he heard a song on the radio that completely changed his life.

“Rescue Story,” the GRAMMY® winner’s first book, is his full-circle, first-person account of how Jesus used music to literally save him. Many know Williams for his hits like “Chain Breaker,” “Old Church Choir,” “Fear Is A Liar,” “There Was Jesus,” and the book’s namesake, “Rescue Story,” but few are aware of the past that inspired his songs of hope and redemption. This all-new autobiography gives fans the opportunity to meet the former rebellious rockstar behind the hits.

In his memoir, Williams starts at the very beginning, detailing his Mayberry-like childhood. Despite growing up in a Christian home with loving, Bible-believing parents, his small Arkansas hometown afforded little in the way of entertainment, so Williams and his friends went looking for trouble. What began as an innocent mix of curiosity-filled experimentation, fueled by peer pressure, led to a horrible spiral of drug and alcohol abuse.

At well over six feet, Williams was a celebrated basketball player in his small town. With aspirations of one day playing in the NBA, his athletic ambitions consumed his life. His dreams were abruptly shattered, however, when Williams and several other star players were expelled their senior year after they were busted for smoking pot in a high school parking lot.

Knowing the expulsion would nullify his scholarship opportunities, he dropped out of school, took the GED and went to work for his dad’s construction company. Depression followed. All the while, he continued to attempt to hide the ill-effects of his out-of-control substance abuse from his parents.

Eventually, he caught a break when a chance meeting at an intramural game presented an opportunity to play at a junior college. Unfortunately, the day before the season officially started, he injured his ankle so severely, he was benched before he even got the chance to step onto the court. While he waited for his ankle to heal, Williams picked up his roommate’s guitar and taught himself a few chords. Suddenly, the searching college student stumbled upon something he loved just as much as basketball. A brand new passion for music was ignited, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Williams started writing songs and soon formed a band called Zach Williams and the Reformation. Driven by the allure of the stage, the burgeoning artist thought he had finally found his calling with fresh dreams of becoming a full-fledged rockstar. Life on the road, however, did nothing but fuel his relationship with drugs and alcohol.

Williams eventually met and married his wife, Crystal, who transparently interjects her perspective in her own words throughout various chapters in “Rescue Story.” As their family grew, she encouraged her husband to take responsibility for his actions, even threatening to leave him if his behavior did not change.

At one of his lowest moments, Williams and his band were on an international tour. They were en route to their next concert in Spain when the driver scrolled frequencies on the radio dial, only to land on a local Christian station. Big Daddy Weave’s “Redeemed” was playing, and the words of that song hit Williams like a Mack Truck. That evening alone in his hotel room, he played the song on repeat. Just nights before, he had prayed to God in a moment of desperation asking Him to show him He was real. “Redeemed” was His answer.

The song was the catalyst for the complete transformation that took place in Williams’ life over the next few months. He quit the band. He got clean and sober. And at the invitation of one of his bandmates, he and Crystal started attending church. They even got involved in a local prison ministry, where Williams would perform his original songs for the inmates.

Little by little, God’s rescue story for Zach Williams started to unfold. After he and Crystal began to share bits of their journey at church, he was asked to lead worship for a new service targeting a different crowd made up of rough characters that often reminded Williams of his former self. Addicts, bikers, nonbelievers — it was a motley crew in need of Jesus. Williams was the perfect choice to lead worship; he could identify with so many people sitting in those pews.

A changed man, the singer/songwriter had long surrendered his dreams of becoming rock ’n’ roll’s next Platinum-selling act, content to make a difference right where he was planted. Yet, his past and present soon collided in a moment of divine intervention. A Nashville producer, who happened to be visiting family in Arkansas for the holidays, heard Williams sing at one of the church’s Christmas Eve services. He started a conversation with the singer that eventually led to some co-writing sessions in Nashville. During one of those writes, Williams penned “Chain Breaker,” the song that would eventually land him a record deal, an historic No. 1 and a slew of accolades.

The road to “Chain Breaker” was paved with fitful starts and stops, misleading insecurities and poor choices, and more bumps and bruises than he’d care to admit. Yet, the vulnerability Williams shares within the pages of “Rescue Story” will leave readers with a newfound respect for the three-time K-LOVE Fan Award winner. Just like God used Big Daddy Weave’s song to lead Williams home; today, God is now using the hitmaker’s songs to direct people toward a relationship with Him. And it’s obvious He’ll use the chapters in “Rescue Story” in a similar way.

“Resilient hope despite the mistakes of your past — that’s what I want people to take away from my new book, ‘Rescue Story,’” Williams attests. “If there’s one thing I know is true, it’s that I will make mistakes… Thank God for His grace and for giving me a platform to share the hope I found — and you can find — in Him.”

Following the release of his debut book, the “Heart of God” singer will head out on the “Hundred Highways Tour” this spring, featuring special guest Riley Clemmons.

BooksFaithMusicPrayerZach WilliamsBook Spotlight

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