This biography of Robert Sayers Sheffey weaves the story of a unique—in the true meaning of the word—man, the details of whose life entitle him to the mythical position he holds even today among the people of a part of the South, where, so many years ago, he traveled the circuits of Virginia, West Virginia, and into the fringes of other states as an itinerant preacher.
Born in 1820, raised in Virginia, and having spent a part of his early youth in the home of a wealthy Presbyterian uncle and aunt, there was little in his early background to explain Robert Sheffey’s call to the Methodist ministry, his unusual conversion, and, against all odds, the eventual acceptance of his unorthodoxy by the hierarchy of his adopted church, and, ultimately, the adoration of an army of followers who came to believe him to be a Divine.
Here are documented his extraordinary gifts of exhortation, the depths of his caring about every single soul in the widespread territory he rode—on a brutally rigorous, self-imposed schedule—as well as the unexplainable psyche and prophetic talents that truly earned him the title “Saint of the Wilderness.”
Mr. Carr’s book tells, in detail, of this physically frail, yet incredibly strong man (whose life spanned eighty-two years) and the demons with which he had to wrestle, his personal deprivations and sorrows and triumphs, the beauty of his love for all living things, and the unshakability of his faith and prayer petitions.
The Saint of the Wilderness is the authentic, thoroughly researched life of a figure still revered, still talked about throughout the South, and not rarely, in other parts of the world. But such a life example knows no bounds: such love and faith is universal in its appeal to the whole of mankind.