Write for the Web: Keep it brief

Glean multiple tips on how to reach your readers online in this video clip with veteran journalist Lekan Otufodunrin of Nigeria. He is online and special publications editor at The Nation Newspapers and a Trustee of MAI-Africa.

This video is one of a series of 3-5 minute teaching videos based on workshops led by top international Christian publishing professionals at LittWorld 2012 in Kenya. We give thanks for the dozens of dedicated men and women who serve as our volunteer trainers, many of whom shared their expertise in these videos.

These mini videos on writing, editing, marketing, design, digital publishing, leadership, and more, were shot and produced by Good News Productions, enabling MAI to bring them to you.

Justice or Love?

Author and MAI trainer Tim Stafford shares these reflections on God’s justice and love. This was originally posted on Tim’s blog

I am working on a Bible with notes on God’s justice, to be called, surprisingly enough, God’s Justice. Subtitle: The Flourishing of Creation and the Destruction of Evil.

A major objection I often hear is rooted in a definition of justice based in the courtroom. Justice is “what’s coming to you,” it is retribution for wrongs. For anyone who believes in the ubiquity of sin, “what’s coming to you” is hardly good news. God’s justice is wrath and punishment, relieved only by God’s mercy and love. God’s justice and God’s love are opposed to each other.

This understanding of God torn between justice and love creeps into human ethics, too. How do I see the poor in my community? Through the eyes of justice, most of them appear to get what they deserve. They didn’t apply themselves in school, their work ethic is weak, they didn’t plan well. It isn’t “just” to help them. I’m torn between being just and being charitable. Somehow I try to find a balance between them. When I offer help, I feel weak and “unjust.”

I contend, however, that this division between justice and love does no justice to the God of the Bible. His justice is inextricably intertwined with love. His justice is not “settling accounts” but “setting things right.” To set things right in his beloved creation, he must destroy evil. Sin must be dealt with. But he deals with sin through love and sacrifice. He gives up himself to sin, in order that no one need be punished. He is all love and all justice, all the time.

That is not just a New Testament version of reality. All through the Old Testament, the “just person” is generous to the poor and stands up for their rights in court. See Psalm 72 for a potent description of the Just King. The law of Jubilee–Law, mind you–is that everybody gets their land back every fifty years, regardless of what mistakes have been made. In the book of Jonah, Jonah wants retribution on Nineveh, but God delights in restoration. Is God unjust? Jonah may have thought so, but God didn’t.

I see no sign of a God torn between justice and love. His love is justice, and his justice is love.

This is a profound mystery. Our best formulations fall short. How does God punish and destroy evil while redeeming everything? The closest we come to understanding is when we study the cross on which Jesus died.

MAI training is rooted in the conviction that God uses the written word to transform lives.

“I stopped working for myself and what I could gain”

Titmakara Chim (Timothy) dedicated his life to Christ after nearly drowning in the bottom of a swimming pool in Phnom Penh. He was raised in a Christian home, but had not fully embraced his faith. Had it not been for this near-death experience, today Timothy might not be executive director of Fount of Wisdom Publishing House (FOW), Cambodia’s only general Christian publishing house.

During a church retreat in 2001, 19-year-old Makara took a cool evening dip in the retreat center’s pool. But he didn’t know how to swim and soon sank. A cousin discovered him and quickly called for help.

“They thought I was dead. I could hear what they were saying and I could hear their fear,” Timothy said. He remained unconscious for two days.

“The first words I said to my mother were ‘I commit my life to Christ.’ ” Timothy renamed himself after the biblical figure as a sign of his commitment.

Although today Timothy is dedicated to Fount of Wisdom, he had questioned God’s leading into publishing. He considered resigning shortly after completing training to become the company’s first Cambodian executive director. The possibility to earn a higher salary elsewhere to support his growing family, plus challenges at work, caused Timothy to question staying at FOW.

In 2011 Timothy traveled to Hong Kong to attend the MAI-Asia Publishing Forum. There he heard testimonies of publishers from hard places like China, who remained faithful despite untold difficulties.

“After hearing them, I had the desire to do something for my country, too,” Timothy said. “At that point, I stopped working for myself and what I could gain.”

Timothy has launched several new initiatives at FOW.  He wants to reach the people of Cambodia by placing books on family topics on the shelves of secular bookstores.  Timothy also aims to develop Fount of Wisdom into a self-sustaining business that will thrive beyond his generation. “Now, I am totally committed to Fount of Wisdom and to making Christian literature that will impact my country,” he said.

Have you ever doubted your calling in publishing/writing? What was your turning point?

By Meaghan Zang, MAI intern

 

The Design Doctor’s Advice: Befriend a bookseller

Michael Collie is a graphic designer and the national director of  the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Australia. He offers this tried and true advice on how to test the market for your book’s cover.

Have you found another effective way to test your book(s) and cover(s) with the market? Tell us. 

This video is one of a series of 3-5 minute teaching videos based on workshops led by top international Christian publishing professionals at LittWorld 2012 in Kenya. We give thanks for the dozens of dedicated men and women who serve as our volunteer trainers, many of whom shared their expertise in these videos.

These mini videos on writing, editing, marketing, design, digital publishing, leadership, and more, were shot and produced by Good News Productions, enabling MAI to bring them to you.

Purpose Driven Publishing in Uganda, an Interview with Author Lillian Tindyebwa

Author Lillian Tindyebwa of Uganda shares about her writer journey with MAI staff intern Meaghan Zang. Last month MAI Trainer Lawrence Darmani led a writer workshop in Kampala with Lillian and the Ugandan Faith Writers Association (UFWA). Pray for UFWA as they lay foundations for launching a publishing house. 

When and how did you know that you wanted to become a writer?Lillian
I was influenced through reading, and I grew up reading many books at home. My late father was a teacher of English and, although he never wrote, he read a lot. When I was in primary school, I particularly remember coming across an old copy of Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress among his things and reading it.

I had often thought that I could be a writer, especially during my secondary school. For some unknown reason, possibly due to lack of role models, I did not get around to putting pen on paper until much later in my life.

Are there any challenges unique to being a female Christian writer in Uganda?
As a woman, I have to balance many roles which hardly leaves me with enough time for writing. I still do not have role models of female Christian writers, but I know I am called to be the role model, so I am at peace now with this issue.

Describe one or two of the books you have written.
I have written one full-length novel, entitled Recipe for Disaster, which mainly deals with the dangers of peer pressure in secondary school and also tackles problems of HIV/AIDS.  Although it does not quote verses in the Bible, it still shows the wrong decisions leading to disaster. A publisher in London rejected it, saying it was too moralistic, but it was published by Fountain Publisher in Kampala and is now used in secondary schools.  Teachers tell me it helps them communicate with students about the problems they face and how to avoid them.

My other works are mainly short stories, and my most successful one is titled Looking for My Mother.  It deals with problems of rejection and teenage pregnancy.

How did you become involved in founding the Uganda Faith Writers Association?
Uganda Faith Writers was born out of prayer sessions with my friend Betty Kituyi. We both had time between jobs and decided to seek God to really get to know His purpose for our lives. We read the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren every day and sought Him. There was no doubt that the Association was what He wanted us to do.

Why are you hoping to start a Christian publishing house in Uganda?
Like I mentioned earlier, when I wrote my novel, a London publisher rejected it for being too moralistic. Yet in Uganda, it is popular. I know there are many Christians in this country with many good testimonies, stories, sermons and expositions that could help others to grow in their faith. When published, these writers could serve as role models, and a local publishing house would go a long way toward meeting these needs and pushing forward the work of God.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Christian writers?
Seek God and never give up!

More MAI articles about Lillian and UFWA:
Redeeming the Night: Youth tramautized by war write with UFWA
The writer’s call in Uganda