Bookworms and fans of Philip Yancey gathered in Stafford to hear him talk about his latest book.
More than 300 people came to see the former Chicago-based journalist tell of how he visited the tragic scene of the Virginia Tech massacre, as well as his fear at being in Mumbai the night of the suicide attacks at a city hotel.
As a trained hack, and someone who delights in his profession of asking the questions, Yancey attempts to reconcile his Christian faith with the world he sees around him in his book titled "What Good is God?"
Suffering also bequethed Yancey a visit - he was left with a broken neck following a car crash in 2007.
It was then that he joined millions of others in asking searching questions of life's purpose.
"Faith is like a tabletop test" Yancey said, "You can only see what it's like when it's tested.
"I use the phrase 'tabletop test' because it is something out of Silicon Valley where they invent new iPods, iPhones or iPads.
"It can be the greatest machinery in the lab, but what really matters is how it is going to be used in real life.
"They do this test where somebody will just come and knock it off the table and watch it crash on the ground.
"Does it still work? That is the tabletop test for faith. Does it work in real life?"
Yancey – who worked as a journalist in Chicago for some 20 years on titles including the Saturday Evening Post and National Wildlife before becoming freelance – went on to elaborate about real life faith.
"What good is God if you are on the Virginia Tech campus when a gunman goes on the rampage?"
Indeed Yancey was on campus a week after the atrocity – he visited the shell-shocked youngsters having being asked to by the school chaplain.
Over the past decade or so, he has written numerous international bestsellers including 'Where is God When it Hurts?' and 'What's So Amazing About Grace?'
Now living in Colorado, the 61-year-old Yancey has seen his books sell more than 15 million worldwide.
Yancey was in town to talk about his latest book – 'What Good is God?' – an idea which came to him in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist bombings.
He had been due to speak at a venue in the Indian city that very evening.
Now using his skills as a journalist, the book sees him search for a faith that matters in today's world of tsaunamis and devastating hurricanes.
"The book aims to answer the question of why life does not work as we think it should" he said. "People are disappointed with God.
"The Bible is full of people asking these type of questions. It doesn't give a clear answer to these questions, but tells us how God views these problems.
"A lot of my books come from questions posed by readers" he added.
For a man who suffered a broken neck in a car accident in 2007, he seems able to talk about what real life twined with faith is like in 21st century life.
He also oozes confidence – not surprising for someone who has interviewed Jimmy Carter, Bono, and Al Gore amongst others during his own journalistic career.
"What I like about writing is that it's very non-threatening way to talk about things" Yancey said.
"But on a personal level it's a very hard and often a lonely thing – I know of nothing harder, not even climbing mountains. But it's a learnable skill.
"I've definitely learnt to take criticism with my books which I think is important. I've found the more risks I take, the more success I've found."
* 'What Good is God' is published by Hodder and Stoughton with a RRP of £12.99.