The Story of Solomon’s Porch

This story was used as the basis for a feature article on Wid Bastian originally published by The New Vision (Tucson, AZ) in January of 2011.

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me: The Story of Solomon’s Porch
St. Paul said that we should “glory in tribulations”, knowing that “tribulations produces perserverance; and perserverance, character, and character, hope”. Powerful words written by a man burning with faith, who believed that every affliction he endured from beatings to shipwrecks to prison made him “bold to speak the word without fear” and strengthened him to be a more detemrined and effective servant of the Lord.
As Chrisitans we are taught that God often uses our worst mistakes and most difficult circumstances as tools to build His Kingdom, but remaining steadfast and hopeful during hardship is not easy.
“God is not an abstract in my life, He is an ever present reality,” Barbara Bastian testifies. “I truly believe that His Son died on the cross not just for the world, but for me.”
Over the last twenty years Barbara has been challenged by various trials. After her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease she became a full time caregiver, refusing to send him away from home to live in a managed care facility. Her son, Wid, was divorced, remarried and then divorced again, losing a child in the process. Then Wid’s venture capital firm collapsed in scandal, he was indicted and disgraced.
“I felt personally betrayed by Wid and guilty over what his father and I failed to teach him. For a long time I refused to forgive him. I was angry at my son and drained physically and emotionally by the severe demands caused by my husband’s lengthy illness and death.”
Harry Lainis also knows about tough times. As a youngster, he survived both the Second World War and subsequent civil war in his native Greece, immigrating to North Carolina as a teenager. He thrived in America, raised a family, built a life. But in the early 1980s Harry’s businesses collapsed and he was tested, he questioned his faith. To his great surprise, during this period of turmoil the Spirit called him to jail ministry. Since then, for more than two decades now, Deacon Harry Lainis has spent many hours every week seeing to the spiritual needs of the inmates at the Mecklenburg County Jail in Charlotte, North Caorlina.
“I know that I am doing the Lord’s work, ” Deacon Lainis says. “I can be totally spent, no energy left, but when it’s time to head to the jail the Spirit reinvigorates me, gives me strength.”
While Deacon Lainis has comforted and encouraged hundreds of men over the years, once in a while he believes that God sends him someone with a “unique purpose, a soul with great potential to serve the cause of Christ.”
Completely lost, a “spiritually destitute atheist”, that is how Wid Bastian describes himself in November 2002. “I had hit rock bottom. There was nothing left.” He was facing a bleak future, prison time was a certainty. Only forty two, Wid’s life seemed over -a once brilliant future devastated by his foolishness and sin.
“The last thing I was consciously seeking was God,” Wid admits. “He called, as He does to all of us. I was finally humbled enough to listen.”
For reasons he did not understand at the time, Wid felt a “physical presence, a tugging” and was compelled to pray in a circle with a few other inmates several days after his arrest. “I was literally overwhelmed by the power of God. Instantly I knew, I was aware on a level beyond my senses, outside of emotion and rational reasoning, that Jesus Christ is real, that He lives. “The tomb is empty” kept repeating in my head, over and over.”
A few weeks after his conversion experience, Wid met Deacon Lainis who was conducting a Bible study at the jail. “I was drawn to Harry. I knew that God had sent this man to help me, to be my guide.” For the next three years, as Wid Bastian struggled through a contentious sentencing process, Deacon Harry ministered to Wid, teaching and counseling him in the tradition of Greek Orthodox Christianity.
“Harry made a special efort to visit me on Saturdays. He was a light in a dark place. A true friend.”
It was during this time that Wid Bastian penned Solomon’s Porch. “The book wrote itself. I felt like more of a scribe than an author. The Holy Spirit guided my hand.”
Solomon’s Porch is a novel about God acting boldly and directly through unlikely messengers. While the story begins in prison, it does not end there.
“I am living proof that the power of Christ can completely change someone’s life,” Wid testifies. “Solomon’s Porch applies this truth on a much larger scale. The book is actually the middle story of a trilogy, but it makes sense to introduce the saga with this novel.”
“When my son came back into my life and told me that he was now a Christian for a while I was skeptical, still mad,” Barbara Bastian admits. “Christmas came and Wid wanted to give me a gift. The only thing he had to give was his study Bible with all of his notes in it. When I received the Bible I was moved and I realized that he was a sincere Chrisitan. Then it hit me, or rather God hit me. Who was I not to forgive? I was brought up sharply when I realized that Christ forgave those who abused and murdered Him and that He commanded all of us to forgive. I was literally sick for a time over my hardness of heart, then I forgave my son. Now, we have never been closer. Christ is at the center of our relationship.”
“My son wrote a novel before his arrest and conversion, “Barbara continues, “so I knew that he had the gift. Once I read Solomon’s Porch and spoke with others who had also read the book, it became crystal clear to me that Christ wants Wid to write. I knew that I was called to help him.”
“It is an honor to have Solomon’s Porch dedicated to me,” Deacon Harry says. “The response to the book, to its message, has been remarkable. I’m humbled to think that God used me to help Wid, to inspire him to write such a beautiful story. His mother and I have become close friends. I’m looking forward to the day when Wid is released and the three of us can go to church and worship together.”
Solomon’s Porch is a story of struggle, of forgiveness, of miracles and of the true freedom that comes through obedience to Christ. To its author, and to those closest to him, it is also something more – a message of hope from Above saying, “Stay the course. Run the race to the finish. I will never leave you nor forsake you.”