Three messages for nurturing local writers

Kara Lassen Oliver shares three key messages for nurturing local writers in the 2-minute video below. As a published author and a former missionary in Malawi, she is passionate about equipping and empowering writers in Africa to write and publish the materials they need to strengthen the Church.

Developing local writers is about encouraging them and helping them embrace the gift God has given them. Three key messages for writers:

1. Writing is a calling. Look for where God is at work in your life and ministry. God has called you to write that story; it’s important to the world. Embrace your calling.

2. Writing is a ministry. People in the church need to hear your story. Keep in mind your readership. Don’t write too high of an academic level, but write to reach a person in the church. Watch your language; don’t be preachy. Consider your writing as an offering to the Church that can be used and shared again and again.

3. Writing is hard work. MAI Trainer Lawrence Darmani said, “When we go to heaven God will ask us if we left behind the books that God put inside us on earth–because they’re not needed in heaven.” Give yourself permission to dedicate time to the writing God has given you. It’s tempting to get distracted, but the work of writing is to finish the project before you.

You are gifted and called to write.

Kara Lassen Oliver serves as Director of Discipleship Resources International (DRI) Publishing Initiatives for The United Methodist Church. As a published author and a former missionary in Malawi, she is passionate about equipping and empowering writers in Africa to write and publish the materials they need to strengthen the church. She is also the acquisitions editor for the Africa Ministry Series, written by African pastors and lecturers, offering quality ministry resources for strengthening the church in the 21st century.

This video was taken by TeamDavid at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.

Stewarding Novel Ideas

Jon Hirst GMI new book

GMI President Jon Hirst

MAI President John Maust was featured in the new book, The Calling of the Knowledge Steward, authored by Jon Hirst, GMI President and a former MAI Board member. We’re delighted to share this excerpt with you. 

If I were looking for an exciting one-on-one study opportunity in Wheaton today, I would love to learn from John Maust, the president of MAI (Media Associates International), an organization that trains Christian authors and publishers around the globe.

“We get to steward knowledge that helps others steward their knowledge, insights, and experiences,” says John. “Specifically, we equip and encourage Christian publishers and writers located in hard places of the world to create excellent content that enriches the church and influences society.”

John and book award

MAI President John Maust (left) congratulates Nicholas Villanueva of Ediciones Certeza Argentina on its award-winning book “Mujeres Jefas de Familia” by author Samuel Tapia.

I’ve known John for years, and he’s become a good friend. John has a servant’s heart. When we talk, he is always concerned first and foremost with the needs of the people he is serving—never his own issues or challenges.

John is a knowledge steward who has changed the world. Here’s how he does it. Working with MAI authors, John helped create a devotional book for global Christian writers, Light for the Writer’s Soul (co-published by Armour Publishing, Singapore), featuring articles by 80 contributors from 27 nations. The book offers a wealth of spiritual wisdom and encouragement for writers.

John has created a culture of service at MAI that is impacting the world for Christ. When I asked him about his role models, he cited Timothy, the associate of the Apostle Paul. “A Timothy-like focus on others is vital,” he says. “I often think of Paul’s description of Timothy, ‘I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare'” (Philippians 2:20).

But there’s a challenge. Knowledge stewards love to help people, particularly when they have a passionate servant’s heart. But no one can serve everyone. That’s where discernment comes in. As we saw in the previous chapter, discernment helps stewards determine not only what to share, but also who to share it with, and how.

“One needs a kind of discernment to identify which people in whom to invest knowledge,” John says. “You can’t invest equal time and attention in everybody. Discernment helps determine which students possess the potential and commitment to apply the knowledge they have received. Sometimes these are the quiet people in the background, and one must listen and observe carefully to identify them.”

>>Check out the book and read a sample chapter online. 

Living the dream to educate underprivileged Indonesian children

A young author is on the fast track to fulfilling her dream of educating underprivileged children in Indonesia.

A few months after our LittWorld 2015 conference, Tiur Faith Saj Purba, 25, launched hertiur book cover cropped autobiographical book 0.1 Hectares School, published by Christian publisher Metanoia. She and co-author Ariska Amir tell describe Tiur’s childhood, attending a neighborhood school with crumbling walls and her vision and work to educate village children.

Tiur attributes LittWorld 2015 with equipping her in publishing, plus enabling her to lead her non-profit.

A workshop on leadership was particularly helpful “because I learned to lead by love and the Word of God,” she said. “I can use the teaching in writing and publishing to bless a lot of people.

Only one year earlier in March 2015, Tiur launched Rumah Belajar Bekasi (House for Learning). The nonprofit tutoring center serves LW 2015 - Hermela and Tiurlow-income children in Bekasi, a poor suburb of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. She recruited 10 other volunteers to give up their Sundays to teach some 30 children in a room only 7 by 4 meters. Donors contributed books, pencils and notebooks.

Since that first center, Tiur has opened two additional centers for children, gathering volunteers and supplies through her blog and website.

“My vision now is to build a free school for poor children,” Tiur told us. “I hope they can feel His love through my ministry.”

Her book’s publicity has propelled Tiur’s vision further as she travels in Indonesia and Malaysia to speak on TV talk shows and give newspaper interviews. All of the book’s proceeds will be poured into creating an official school. Tiur is already working on the government paperwork.

Check out Tiur’s latest ministry updates on Facebook.

Photo above: Tiur (left) with new friend, Ethiopian author Hermela Solomon, at LittWorld 2015.

Indonesia is home to some 1,000 publishers, of which about 40 are Christian. The world’s most populous Muslim nation of 240 million people is nearly 10 percent Christian.

Self-care: Protecting the person behind the ministry

Soo-Inn Tan of Graceworks Singapore describes how Christians in ministry often focus on what we “do” to the neglect of who we “are” in Christ. How do you practice self-care? Soo-Inn suggests two key commitments you can make in order to be more effective and healthier for the long-term:

  1. Living in relationship
  2. The principle of 6-plus-1 as a God-given rhythm

>Watch this four-minute video of Soo-Inn to learn more:

>Check out Soo-Inn Tan’s books on spiritual friendship, available as both print and e-books.

This video was shot by Team David Films at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.

Courage to Take the Plunge

John Mar2016 big smileBy John Maust, MAI President

One of our old family videos shows daughter Michelle, then age 4, perched on the steps of a swimming pool, water wings on her arms. Only her feet dangle in the water. “Michelle, come out and join us,” her Grandpa urges from the middle of the pool.

Michelle shakes her head. “No. When I’m ready,” she says firmly. No amount of coaxing will change her mind. Older sister Natalie giggles at Michelle’s fear of entering the water. “Natalie,” Grandpa says, defending Michelle, “she’ll waterwings and poolcome when she’s ready.”

The day did come, of course, when Michelle was ready and ventured into the pool, but it took awhile.

Sometimes at MAI I feel like little Michelle. A hard decision or risky opportunity awaits, and I take a deep breath at the edge of the pool. For instance:

-Should we go ahead with the training workshop in a difficult country of the Middle East, despite the recent bombings in Istanbul?

-Should we continue plans for a certain publishing conference, even though we aren’t sure where the money will come from?

-Should we hold the next LittWorld conference in Asia? Or Europe? South America? Somewhere else?

Faced with hard decisions in daily ministry, I recognize more than ever my need to seek God’s leading in prayer and Scripture, and then to sit quietly and listen to His voice. I’m not talking about listening for an audible voice (which might be nice sometimes!), but for those impressions or thoughts coming to mind that you somehow know are from the Lord.

I want to be in a state of constant readiness to follow Jesus when and wherever He leads. As Christ walking on the Sea of Galilee told Peter, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid… Come.” Please pray for wisdom, discernment and courage in my leadership of MAI’s global ministry.

This year, with God’s help and your generous partnership, MAI will equip Christian publishers and writers in nearly 20 countries of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. An estimated 640 gifted men and women will benefit from these on-site programs.

Success of this global training, in God’s grace, will mean more and stronger publishers and writers worldwide who “declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3).

Please pray that our work will result in more and better locally authored Christian content that nurtures the Church and influences society in countries of great need. Pray too for God’s financial provision for MAI so that we will finish our fiscal year on April 30 “in the black.”