Rosalind Riggs, a former teacher with 31 years in the classroom, is now a children’s book author on a mission to minister to young souls. Her book, “The Army of the Lord,” is a collection of prayers Riggs says the Lord placed on her heart to equip children with the powerful spiritual technology of prayer.
The Defender spoke with Riggs, who is also an ordained minister, about her journey to her new career as an author.
DEFENDER: Can you introduce yourself to the Defender faithful?
ROSALIND RIGGS: My name is Rosalind Riggs and I am a retired teacher. I was a teacher for 31 years, 20 years with Fort Bend where I live in Missouri City, and the other 11 in Houston. I was an art teacher and I love art and I love my career and I really, really love children.
DEFENDER: As a child growing up was teaching thing that you wanted to do, and if not, how did you find yourself in education?
RIGGS: Actually, it wasn’t. That’s hysterical because my mom was a teacher. She’s an elementary teacher, like 25 years. And she would bring home these big bags of paper and say, “Come on. You’ve got to help me grade some of these spelling tests.” We’d be up hours, and I was like, “Oh, I’m never going to be a teacher. Never, ever, ever. When I called her and told her that I was going to teach, she said, “What? Not you?” I said, “Yeah, but mom, I’m teaching art. I’m not going to be bringing home stacks of papers and all of that.”
But that’s how I became a teacher. But seven years prior, I was in retail management. I did buying and I worked for Montgomery Ward. That’s what I did when I first moved here and I was traveling quite a bit opening stores, and I had my daughter. And it was just too much with the leaving her with my mother-in-law. And I was like, “I’ve got to do something else.” And it just came on my heart to do teaching and check into it. I went and got certified as a teacher. I had all the requirements as far as the art part with my major, but I needed the education courses. I went to TSU and took those 30 hours of education and got certified pre-K through 12.
DEFENDER: What is it about art that you love so much?
RIGGS: I’ve just always been an artist. I’ve always designed my clothing. I had my first sewing machine when I was in fifth grade. Clothing and patterns were so expensive. I decided to go ahead and sketch ’em out myself and my parents saying, well, you know what, that, that’s, that’s your gift. You know, they kind of recognize that. And I received a scholarship from Iowa state university in Ames, Iowa, and that’s where I went to school.
DEFENDER: At what schools did you teach in Fort bend and HISD?
RIGGS: In HISD I taught at Garden Villas Elementary, a magnet academy out near Hobby Airport. I was there for about nine years and I really loved it. But it was such a distance from my home. So, when they built this little school five minutes away from my home, I was like, “Okay, Lord, I think I need to check into that.” That’s how I ended up at Glover Elementary.
DEFENDER: What did you enjoy most about teaching?
RIGGS: I just loved children most of all, and just letting them identify their gifts. I got to meet so many artists, and they’re coming back now telling me “Ms. Rigg, I’m doing this. I’m teaching art. I’m an illustrator at the journal.” And I’m just like, “Yay.” Because they all had it in them. Even in kindergarten, you could identify the skills, and I just loved it. We entered all types of art contests where we came on top every time. I’m actually certified pre-K through 12, but the elementary school was through fifth grade. But when I saw the talent and the skill in the children, I just let them go. I was teaching fifth graders ninth-grade-level work because they had the ability to do it. I just enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed it. I went back to school about seven years before I retired and got my master’s in counseling and art therapy. That’s what I plan on focusing on. Between writing books and art therapy, I’ll have another busy career.
DEFENDER: Your joy for teaching exudes in your conversation. So, I’m curious. Was there anything that you didn’t like about teaching?
RIGGS: I really can’t think of any. I had a wonderful time. I really did. I just knew it was time in my life to start something different. And I ended up retiring right before the pandemic, in 2019.
DEFENDER: So, when did the idea to write a book come to you?
RIGGS: I actually wrote this book in 2016, but it didn’t look anything like this at that time. It was just a little paperback book. It didn’t have any pictures, only the front picture of the little children and it was just prayers, because I’m also an ordained minister. That’s my other job. I’ve always taught children’s church. I was a director at St. Agnes for years over children’s church. And I’m now a teacher and minister at the Fountain of Praise’s children’s church, Rock Church. This is just what I’ve always done; minister to children. And it was just such an impression on my heart for prayers to teach them to pray because the parents aren’t going to be with them always. We’ve seen some things happen recently that, prayer was needed.
DEFENDER: So, was this author bug something that just hit you or was that something you always wanted to do?
RIGGS: I never really thought about writing. I loved to write. I always had a journal even when I was younger, but it was just my personal journal. I was one of those children that was what we call a transit kid. My father was in Chicago where I was born. My mother had relocated to the south and remarried. So, I was always going back and forth. It was a comfort for me to journal and to draw. And I didn’t realize at that time, that was my art therapy. That was my outlet. And I just know children need that. They need that outlet to express their feelings.
DEFENDER: What brought you to Houston from Chicago?
RIGGS: After college, I got married. I was married for about four years and then I went through a divorce. I had a cousin out here and she said I come to Texas. I wanted to go someplace different. I didn’t want to stay in Chicago. And I was actually living in Detroit at the time because my ex was an attorney for General Motors. But I said, “Texas? What it’s in Texas?” She said, “Oh girl, it’s a big place. Just come out and see it.” And I came to visit and here I am. I’ve been here 38 years. I met my husband, Eugene Riggs, who’s also a graphic artist. We’ve been married now for 37 years.
DEFENDER: Can you give us an overview of the book?
RIGGS: It’s a beautiful book. I love the illustrations. It’s in English and Spanish, and later to be in five total languages: English, Spanish, French, Chinese and a Nigerian language. It’s like a prayer book I’ve never seen before for children.
First of all, there’s a prayer for salvation that the children themselves, they’re the army of the Lord, can pray. They’ll be able to lead other children to the Lord in prayer. You’ll see the little illustrations of maybe something like a sleepover, how they could actually talk about the Lord and talk about being saved. Then the other prayers are prayer for healing. You need to know how to pray when somebody’s sick. And it has scriptures there. They’re all King James Bible scriptures.
There’s a prayer for the healing of cancer. This particular one, I was teaching at Fountain of Praise one Sunday and I said, “Do you guys pray?” They said, “Yeah.” I said, “What do you pray about?” They started naming all different things. And this one little guy, he put his head down and he said “Cancer.” I said, “What do you know about cancer?” He said, “Cancer kills people. Cancer kills a lot of people.” And I just, I don’t know. It’s like a righteous indignation that came up in me. I got so upset at the devil basically, because this child seemed so defeated. His whole being was just totally defeated.
And I said, “Baby, there’s so many people that I know that are survivors of cancer. Cancer isn’t the end of everybody’s story. God can heal cancer.” And I prayed with him because he had some relatives that had gone through some things. But that very day when I walked out, I just had that impression in my spirit of a prayer for the healing of cancer. And that’s exactly what I went home and did. And this is an illustration of a little boy praying for his mom that has cancer. But I’ve never seen anything like this.
This one, I love too, a prayer for your parents’ marriage. This little girl [in the illustration] she’s on her knees, her mom and dad are at it. They’re fussing. But she’s not worried. She is on her knees praying and she’s praying the word of God that peace be in their house. It’s so real for so many children. So many pray for mom and dad, single parents. The children are praying for their mom and dad. People don’t realize their kids worrying about you. Kids worry about their parents; that they’re going to be okay. I saw so many worried faces when I was teaching when parents would be late to pick them up after school. “Is my mama coming?” Things something happened. They really do.
This is a prayer for when you’re lonely. There are so many children, especially with the isolation of the virus and everything. Children were totally isolated for the very first time. They couldn’t go out and play. They couldn’t see their other family members. This was a real situation.
DEFENDER: You’re an artist. Did you do the illustrations for the book?
RIGGS: I wanted to do them and in a way I would say I’m 50/50. The publisher that I have, Christian Faith Publishers, have their own private art department. They told me that I had to send them a vivid description of what I wanted the pictures to look like. I could tell them anything I wanted. And since I am an artist, I totally did that. I told them to colors, to use the facials expressions, and we talked back and forth. We sent different messages and sketches back and forth, and we got it together. They actually did the work. But I think I had a lot of input. I told them everything to put in the pictures.
DEFENDER: What’s the age range for this book?
RIGGS: Three to basically it could go to an 18 year old. But it’s written basically on a fourth-grade reading level. But children have parents read to them all the time. And the thing that’s going to pull them in is the colorful pictures.
Look at this one, prayer for a daddy. I’ve never seen a prayer like that before, but God just put in my heart. There are so many children that don’t have fathers in their home. And look at that illustration. That’s a parent kissing his little child goodbye at school. I often saw that and I often saw the faces of the little ones watching. So, this was a prayer and I said, these mamas better get ready, because when you got the baby praying, it’s about to happen. They’re praying for a father with God’s heart, a father filled with the love and respect for their mom.
There’s a prayer for protection. How awesome is that? When children get off the school bus, they are fearful a lot of times, walking home alone. But there’s a prayer that they can pray and they can remember that God’s always there. He’s got those angels. I don’t know if you can see that shadow. I told the artist you’ve got to have that angel shadow right behind him.
DEFENDER: Why is this book something parents should rush to purchase for their children?
RIGGS: Because they should want them to know how to pray. They should want them to be armed up. You’re not with them all the time. And if something goes down, they know what to do. They know they have a heavenly father that’s always watching, that loves them and he’s there for them and they’ll never have to be alone. This is a comfort in the heart of anyone, whether you are a child or a grownup.
DEFENDER: How can people purchase your book?
RIGGS: It’s worldwide right now. It’s at Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Amazon. Just type in the title, “The Army of the Lord.” There’s eBooks.
ABOUT ROSALIND RIGGS
Place of Birth: Chicago
Education: Iowa State University
Favorite Music: Gospel
Favorite Food: Seafood
Favorite Thing(s) About Houston: Oh, I really like Houston, especially Mo. City. That’s where I’ve been living for 36 years. I love, first of all, that I don’t have to wear those big coats anymore, like in Chicago and Iowa. I’m getting used to the heat, but I keep my house on 70. I’ve also met some wonderful people and friends.
Next Book Projects: 1) “I know Jesus,” a book containing testimonies about children and their relationship with the Lord and 2) “Are You Going to Wait or Walk,” a book encouraging married women to pray for their husbands during trying moments in their marriage.
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org