The E-Reader Project

Robin Pippin

Robin Pippin shows the Kindle Paperwhites used in the E-Reader Project

By Robin Pippin

In the libraries of many theological schools in Africa, most books are very old and dated—and even at that, the collection is very limited. Given the cost of shipping books to and within the African continent, the scarcity of books is not a surprise.

In 2012, when staff of Discipleship Resources International (DRI) met with the faculty of Gbarnga School of Theology (GST) in Liberia, a United-Methodist-related school, we were surprised to learn that their classes were conducted with the use of only one book—the teacher’s. Students had no books, and if they intended to read an assignment before class, they had to take the book to the nearest town, where they had to pay a copy center for copies of each chapter.

Robin Pippin solar power

This solar charger can charge up to 10 e-readers at one time

Add to this situation the lack of electricity, running water, and internet at the school—and we realized this would be the perfect place to pilot the E-Reader Project—an initiative to bring E-readers filled with Bibles, reference books and helpful theological texts to under-resourced theological schools of the United Methodist Church. In 2013-14, our staff brought e-readers to faculty and students at GST, fully trained them on the care and use of the e-readers, and made periodic visits to evaluate their effectiveness.

Not surprisingly, GST students reported a marked increase in their reading for their courses and in reading overall. This mobile “e-library” suddenly provided reading materials that had never been available to them before. Recent graduate Wuo Laywhyee said that the Kindle has increased his “appetite to read.”

A glimpse of the hardware needed to load the e-readers

A glimpse of the hardware needed to load the e-readers

Student Brenda Taylor explained that her increased reading had helped to expand her knowledge of the English language. For many GST students, English is a second language to their indigenous language. The built-in dictionary feature is often mentioned by students as being extremely helpful in their reading comprehension.

The success of the pilot project has led DRI and its partners to expand the project to 18 theological schools in Africa and 6 in the Philippines. We offer the e-readers in Portuguese and French, in addition to English. Finding appropriate and affordable content for the e-readers is an ongoing challenge. To date, we have launched the project with two-thirds of these schools. Our vision includes expanding e-readers to more pastors, who have often have very little access to resources they need for ministry.

For more information or to support the project, see http://umcereader.org/

Robin Pippin is Director of Contextual Resource Development and Distribution for Discipleship Resources International, a division of Discipleship Ministries, an agency of The United Methodist Church, located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Robin is married to Tim Pippin and they have three young-adult age children.

 

Unconfined

A million motes of dust danced in the tropical sunlight streaming through the Amy Carmichael older picturewindow. On the bed, prostrate in the heat, an old woman lay watching them spin in the air. Then she sighed, reached for the paper lying beside her, took her pencil in aching fingers, and began to write.

For the last 20 years of her life, Amy Carmichael scarcely moved from that bed. Behind her lay decades of trailblazing missionary work in southern India—work that had made her world famous. But a fall in 1931, along with other health problems, made her an invalid. From then until her death in 1951, she was largely confined to one room.

Yet Amy’s influence did not end with her mobility. For Amy was a writer, and God wanted to make her words run where her legs could not.

Amy carmichael book and photoAlready an accomplished author (she published 21 books between 1895 and 1929), she continued writing despite nearly constant pain. She wrote at a table when she could, or on a writing stand in bed, or resting the paper on a blotter as she lay on her back. In the end she resorted to dictation because holding a pencil was too hard. But still the books came.

She produced seven more during her illness, and a further seven were compiled from her unpublished writings after her death. Altogether her books sold hundreds of thousands of copies and were translated into multiple languages. And they galvanized untold numbers with a passion to reach the world for Jesus.

Amy Carmichael’s body was confined, but what God wanted to do through her wasAmy Carmichael not. He had purposes for her life—and her writing—beyond anything she could see. I realize the same thing about my own life whenever someone tells me how the Christian magazine I edited back in the 1980s was a lifeline for their faith. They still remember helpful things people wrote back then, 30 years later.

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” When we submit our writing to Him, we never know what wonderful things He may do with it.

To echo a prayer Amy wrote in one of her books:

And now at His feet, who can use the least, I lay my writing again; for “to the Mighty One,” as the Tamil proverb says, “even the blade of grass is a weapon.”

Owen Salter contributed this article for MAI’s forthcoming devotional book, “Light for the Writer’s Soul: 100 devotions for global Christian writers”. The book will be released at LittWorld 2015 in Singapore this November. Owen will lead a workshop there on copy editing and be involved in a workshop, “Writing with a Local Accent.” There’s still time to sign up for LittWorld, our world conference of Christian publishing.

Owen Salter low resOwen Salter has worked as editor and writer for over 35 years. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife Jane, and together they have three children and four grandchildren. Owen is an MAI trainer and a member of the MAI-Asia board.

I Knew Nothing

Meet Nur Un Nabi, one of many worthy candidates for whom we are seeking to raise scholarships to attend LittWorld 2015, our unique Christian publishing conference.

By Nur Un Nabi, Bangladesh

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” –John 15:7,8

My father worked for a Christian mission as a maintenance worker. He swept the floor, cleaned the toilet, watered the trees, prepared tea for the staff and ran errands. The mission had a publishing department. I visited the office when I was 13. At that time I was a new believer from a Muslim background. I learned that the publishing department invited writing submissions for its Christian magazine. My father did not tell me to write for the magazine, rather a voice invited me to try.

I returned to our small and shabby hut. I started writing an article on Adam and Eve. I knew that neither my father, grandfather nor anyone in my family tree was a writer, let alone a Christian one. I knew nothing of the ways of writing. I had read nothing except textbooks from school. The voice just told me to start, and I followed. I wrote and cut, I cut and wrote. I thought and rethought what I had to write. I read and reread what I wrote.

IFB is publishing a free monthly magazine for MBBs called Omega Nur is a regular contributor He is showing his article in the September issue entitled Why are you called a Christian

Today Nur contributes articles regularly to Christian magazines besides serving as an editor and translator for a Christian publisher.

At last I finished my article and gave it to my father to submit to the editor. The editor graciously published my article, and I along with my father was very happy to see it published. It had been edited a bit but the publishing of my article ignited me to continue writing, especially for our Mighty Lord Jesus Christ.

Since age 13, I have remained in Jesus and His Word. I have not written a book yet but I have proofread, edited and translated many books. I regularly write articles for a monthly Christian magazine and believe that I am heading toward writing big things in His time, for Him. He is my master, speaking and guiding me continually in my publishing work. I am just His follower and agent of glory. What about you?

O, LORD, nothing is impossible for you. Make me your disciple as a writer. Amen.

Nur Un Nabi has been working for a Christian publishing house in Bangladesh as editor and translator for over 20 years. He contributed this article for MAI’s forthcoming devotional, “Light for the Writer’s Soul: 100 devotions for global Christian writers”.

Will you help worthy scholarship candidates like Nur gain valuable training at LittWorld 2015 in Singapore this November? Donate online now or email [email protected]

Leadership By Example

ramon rochaBy Ramon Rocha

Can you say, “Do what I do, not just do what I say”? An excellent leader is one who sets a good example. He or she is a person of integrity.

As a leader, you set the tone and atmosphere at the workplace. Whether you like it or not, you are creating clones around you. Those whom you supervise want to please the boss.

Are you a model employee? Do you uphold and follow company policies? Or are you above the law, so to speak? Do people see the genuineness of your heart and character? No one is perfect. But we should be good role models before our staff, our family and the general public.

Temptation is always present in our mind and thought life. A helpful lesson I’ve learned, aside from Jesus’s example in Luke 4, is to run from temptation like Joseph did in Genesis 39.

In recent news coverage, several prominent leaders have doctored reports to look good to the public. Brian Williams, veteran anchor of NBC Nightly News, a major TV newscast in the US, was suspended after admitting fabrication of his coverage in Iraq. He had claimed enemy fire had hit his helicopter in a 2003 trip to Iraq.

Last year Pastor Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill, in Seattle got caught manipulating the sales of his book Real Marriage. The church had paid a marketing firm $25,000 to manipulate book sales and attain a spot on the New York Times bestseller’s list.

Sometimes success is addicting. Author-researcher Jim Collins, in his book How the Mighty Fall, explored the phenomenon of why some big companies fail. A key reason for their failures was falling into “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”

It is true for companies and it is true for our careers. We may be tempted to compromise integrity to project a picture of continuing success. Let us be truthful in all our reports, stating facts as they are, not hiding our inefficiencies and failures.

How do you lead in a crisis situation? Let me share this scary story:

After lunch in 2006, I was doing my usual “MBWA”—management by walking around the OMF Lit office. I had a friendly chat with our warehouse staff. Returning to my office, as I passed our bookshop, I saw a man pointing a gun at our bookstore cashier. In my panic, I decided to head toward the side door to seek a policeman on the street, even a traffic cop. With my chest pounding, I looked around and could not find one.

I felt guilty that I may have made a cowardly escape and left my staff to fend off the gunman.  When I reentered the side door, the gunman had already vanished into the busy street on his motorcycle. Later I learned from our frightened cashier that she had kept her cool. We had only lost a few hundred pesos because she had already turned in the morning cash sales.

The talk around the office that afternoon was “Our CEO abandoned ship and left us at the height of danger!” I will not forget that incident, and kept thinking, did I do right slipping out of the side door to seek help? Or I should have confronted the robber and offered myself as a sacrifice?

What would you have done?

As the leader of your team, you also serve as their pastor. Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example” (1 Peter 5: 2-3, NLT).

I believe this statement is true: “People don’t care how much you know. They’d like to know how much you care.”

Ramon Rocha is the director of publisher development at MAI. This post is an excerpt from his talk, “Seven Marks of an Excellent Leader in Christian Publishing,” given at MAI’s European Forum, England, April 8, 2015.

Join us for LittWorld 2015, the only international Christian publishing conference of141124LittWorldPos its kind. Register by July 30 and save $100! Come to Singapore this November 1 to 6, alongside more than 200 professionals from Asia, Africa, Europe, North and Latin America and the Middle East. All Christian writers, editors, graphic designers, publishers and booksellers are welcome. Gain intensive training on strategic publishing-related topics. Learn more now.

Waking the Dragon

Last month Jenny Young attended “My Story for His Glory,” a Christian writer My Story for his glory groupworkshop and retreat in South Africa. Led by fiction author and MAI trainer Joan Campbell and author Mandy Hackland, the week-end retreat was attended by 13 writers. They chose between two tracks: fiction and devotional writing. Jenny, who works in a secondary school science lab, questioned signing up for the workshop after years of doubting a call to write. Here are excerpts from her blog post, “Waking the Dragon,” following the retreat:

I thought writing was my dream. I was wrong. After spending about 5 years writing two novels and a children’s book, sending emails to hundreds of agents and publishers, giving the books to friends to read, even I had to realize that I was not a writer. At least not a fiction writer.

Jenny YoungIt was like I had a tiny dragon in my hand who could breathe the fire of a message. He had wings that could take the written word far and wide but after years of trying hard and repeated failure, his puff just got weaker and weaker. Finally his fire was no more than green smoke rings and then died out altogether. Eventually he just gave up, folded his wings and went to sleep. I put him in my pocket and forgot about him.

Why did I sign up for a workshop and retreat called  “My Story for His Glory”?   I am not quite sure but it became increasingly obvious that my God wanted me there.

After lunch we split into two groups, devotional writing and fiction. Because I felt such a failure at fiction, I attended that stream. We had to write a voice journal, where you just give your character a voice, as if he/she is speaking, perhaps being interviewed. At one stage I was in tears because of my character’s passion. I thought to myself, “Maybe I can do this!”

In our worship service…I realized that writing wasn’t my dream. It was my ministry. God called me to write. I was anointed with everybody else to write for the Lord.

So, in a way, the weekend woke my dragon and rekindled his fire—only, it isn’t my dragon. It belongs to God. The gift is His and He will send it where He wants to use it.

What next? I don’t know. Do I rewrite my fiction novels? Write and publish more children’s books? Write a blog? Write devotions?

Only God can lead me and that will be one baby step at a time. Writing this post is one little step. I will get a notebook. I will write 5 lines a week. The rest is up to the Dragon Master.

Saddest Little Sugar Bowl Jenny YoungJenny just launched a blog. Her book, The Saddest Little Sugar Bowl in the World, teaches children—particularly those who are ‘different’—the value of their individuality. She finally self-published it, making it available as a free download.

 

 

Workshop participant, Val Michelsen (84), has been inspired to carry on writing her autobiography. Read her account of the workshop.

Join us in praying for Jenny, Val and other South African writers as they follow God’s call. Pray also for trainers Joan and Mandy as they seek to encourage these writers.

“Thank you to MAI for nurturing and equipping writers in Africa,” Joan wrote us. Read “Courageous Voices,” Joan’s account of coordinating and leading this workshop.