Jack Hinckley talks about mental health issues and his youngest son, John.

In 1981, Jack Hinckley prefaced his tenth annual report to the 1,400 stockholders in the Vanderbilt Oil Company with the words of Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (NIV). Indeed, Hinckley’s plans during the previous ten years had flourished.

Beginning in 1971, with a half-dozen shareholders and an investment of $100,000, the Denver-based oil company had grown to a $4 million a year business. But along the way, Hinckley had learned that success could not be measured in dollars and cents. In 1977, after reading such books as Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, and C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, Hinckley had given Jesus Christ control of his life. Shortly after, he became involved in such organizations as World Vision, through which he frequently did development work in Third World countries.

It was because of such a trip that on March 30, 1981, Hinckley hurried to finish last-minute business at his office. The next morning he, along with his wife, Jo Ann, planned to travel to Guatemala to develop systems to provide clean water for Indian villages.

But they never made the trip. That day, in Washington, D.C., Hinckley’s youngest son, John, fired six bullets at President Reagan, wounding him and three others. Although Jack Hinckley had been burdened by his son’s erratic behavior, he had never suspected that John was suffering from a mental illness so severe that he would attempt to assassinate the President.

This month, Jack and Jo Ann Hinckley are releasing Breaking Points (Zondervan), a book written with Elizabeth Sherrill. More than a detailed account ...

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