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.

 

Rewriting Is Rewarding

LawrenceBy Lawrence Darmani

It took me a long time to write the devotional article I had been assigned. When I submitted it, I was sure I had done my best, but my publishers pointed out several weaknesses and asked if I would rewrite it.

In my writing life, I’ve discovered several secrets about rewriting:
(1) Never think what I’ve written is without blemish or that it is so divine it cannot be improved;
(2) After every rewrite, my manuscript gets sharper, easier to read and communicates better;
(3) The process of rewriting teaches me patience, humility and consideration for the reader who deserves the best; and
(4) Every rewritten manuscript stands a better chance of getting published.

Reminding myself of these time-tested lessons, I lost no time in looking over my devotional article and making the revisions, taking into account the editor’s suggestions. When I saw the article in print, it was indeed a stronger devotional piece with a more solid message for the reader. Grateful to the editor for pointing out the weaknesses, I toughened myself for another opportunity when rewriting may become necessary.

Of course, to be asked to rewrite a manuscript is not altogether palatable. It wasn’t easy when God told Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke” (Exodus 34:1). Chiseling out two stone tablets must have taken days to accomplish, but Moses obeyed, knowing that unless what had been written before was rewritten, he would lose the precious Word of God for himself and for the people he had been called to lead.

The “rewriting” process for Moses gave him great privileges: “the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him” (v. 5); the Lord passed in front of him (v. 6); he learned great attributes of God (vs. 6-9); the Lord made a new covenant with him (v. 10) and he received great divine instructions for God’s people.

If rewriting does not appeal to you, remember God himself requires that this be done. If it is tough, remember Moses chiseled out stone tablets. Not only that: God asked him to do the rewriting himself. “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Exodus 34:22).

Those who detest rewriting risk having their manuscript rejected.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to see the relevance of having to rewrite and hone my manuscripts. Take away every form of reluctance and laziness and help me to work hard at my manuscripts in order to better them. Amen.

Meet award-winning author Lawrence Darmani and take his workshops at 141124LittWorldPosLittWorld 2015. He is an entrepreneurial publisher, author and managing editor of Step Publishers in Ghana. Lawrence is also managing editor of Step and Surprise magazines for young people.

>Improve your rewriting. Register now for our free webinar on Tuesday, July 16, “Is Less More? The discipline of self-editing” with veteran editor Alice Crider of the US.

Humility, the Mark of An Excellent Leader

ramon rochaBy Ramon Rocha

As leaders, pride can get into our heads especially when we achieve victories and successes in our projects. Accolades can fuel our fire of self-sufficiency, of not needing help from God. An excellent leader is one who has a servant attitude and is humble and teachable.

Listening and openness to comments, advice, correction and even criticism requires humility. Pride is subtle. It’s okay to rejoice and celebrate, but we have to remember to defer to the Lord, who is a jealous God.

How do you handle criticism? Ask yourself, “Is there truth to the criticism?” Examine the validity of the comment. If it is correct, even to the slightest degree, ask forgiveness if you’ve made a mistake. Change your ways. Humbly admit errors, do what is required and then move on.

If the criticism is not true, then either correct the rumor or simply dismiss the critical comment with a clear conscience and submit the issue to God.

“We spend so much time and expend so much energy trying to gain a sense of worth from others…ultimately, only God’s opinion of us matters,” wrote theologian Stanley J. Grenz.

Excellent leaders intentionally train people to take over someday. Does your company have a conscious program to develop talents and equip those who will lead after you’re gone? Succession planning is an exercise in developing humility and our rightful place in God’s economy. If you feel invincible and irreplaceable, wake yourself up before God cuts you off.

I remember sending nearly every manager of OMF Literature to trainings either locally or overseas. When David C Cook was offering 10-day courses in Colorado Springs, I sent delegates to learn in editorial, finance, sales and marketing. We sent multiple staff to the two LittWorld international publishing conferences in the Philippines. We also invited board members or their qualified colleagues to lead in-house trainings.

Another measure of humility and teachability is a willingness to be surrounded by people smarter than you. The marketing guy whom I hired back in 2001 is now the CEO of OMF Literature in Manila. When I saw how smart he was emceeing an event for us with Philip Yancy, I told our marketing manager to offer him a job. This microbiology major is now the CEO! He is now taking the company to greater heights, growing from strength to strength.

With humility comes the realization that the company or the department you are heading is not yours. It is the Lord’s. We leaders are accountable to the Real Owner. In fact, we have to report regularly to him on how the company is doing, how are we managing the cash, the inventory, how are we leading and managing the staff, yes, even knowing what’s happening with our respective staff member’s families.

Jesus is our primary example of humility and servant-leadership. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 2 that our union with Christ should be reflected in our general attitude and in how we relate with others. Basically, we must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

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.

Come to LittWorld 2015, the only international Christian publishing conference of141124LittWorldPos its kind. Join us in 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.