Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Book Release: The Man With the Reversible Foot

Man With the Reversible FootYou may know Dick Stenbakken from his portrayals of biblical characters. In The Man With the Reversible Foot, the Dick Stenbakken Story, you will get to know him better as a man.

Story by V. Michelle Bernard

You may know Dick Stenbakken from his portrayals of biblical characters. In The Man With the Reversible Foot, the Dick Stenbakken Story, you will get to know him better as a man.

Author Susan Phelps Harvey has known Stenbakken for at least 20 years, but discovered a whole new side of him while doing research for the book. Harvey, a member of the Chesapeake Conference’s Willow Brook Church in Boonsboro, Md., shares more about the book below:

Q: What surprised you most about Stenbakken when writing this book?
A: The more I delved into his story, the more sense it made that he was so successful. He used his military training and experience in so many ways when he worked for the church.
I think his military training gave him insights into how people work---Something that lots of people don’t necessarily have.
He also has a tremendous respect for people of other religions. When he was just starting out in ministry he became a member of the local [ecumenical?] ministerium in Wyoming and ended up as president. He had no prejudice against people in other religions.

Q: How did he use humor?

A: He is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known and uses his sense of humor to disarm people. The reversible foot, that he would often trick people with, is kind a metaphor for the quirky personality he has. He thinks outside the box and isn’t your typical [Seventh-day] Adventist minister. He loves practical jokes.

I shared a story in the book about one extra snowy winter in Alaska when there was a lot of salt on the road. Stenbakken walked past a Catholic church where a moose was down on its knees licking salt off the road. He had to say something to the priest about how he could get the moose down on their knees!

Stenbakken in character as a centurion Dick Stenbakken in character as a centurion


Q: What made Stenbakken stand out in his career?
A: I think probably his flexibility. He has done many things, and each time the Lord presented him with an opportunity, he just went for it. When he was in the seminary, most people weren’t getting master’s or doctorate degrees. He got both. He wanted to prepare himself in the best possible way.

He had no intention of becoming a chaplain, but when the church had an opportunity to name someone to the chaplaincy they needed someone with two years in the seminary. He was one of the few people who was qualified.

He felt like the Lord led him. I like the way he goes for things. He isn’t a person who hesitates. He just forges ahead and gets the job done.

Q: Why did you write this book?
A: I’ve worked in Adventist publishing almost all of my working life, and there has always been a concern among Adventist publishers that we only publish non-fiction. Many times we’ve done that, but it’s been dull. I wanted to use all the techniques of a good fiction writer to make an interesting book.

Q: What do you want readers to most take away from this book?
I think a lot of people get a sort of stereotype of what Adventists are like. I want people to take away that you can live a life that is fun, exciting, thrilling and rewarding and still live a life that is totally committed to the Lord and to your beliefs. I think that is what Dick exemplifies.

Q: What will people like best about the book?
A: Dick is adopted and the theme of being chosen runs throughout the book. He was chosen by his adopted parents, God chose him and he chose to follow God.
He always felt very special because his parents told him they had picked him out. I think that gave him a lot of confidence early on.

Get a copy of The Man With the Reversible Foot at


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