After

Last night, the book launch. The cheer and frenzy and lights and hype. The accolades.

This morning, the silence. The blank computer screen, the absence of checklists. I had time to notice the sunshine.

Three successful book projects had just been published, each, with their respective Christian authors, having gone through months of work. And I, their editor, had gone along and lived for months consumed by the vast branching array of details that make up a book—What is the source for footnote number seventy-seven? Has the third endorser written back to confirm his position? Do we need permission to use this song? Have I checked the running heads?

Did I check them properly? And how sure am I that that is the source for footnote number seventy-seven?

I had loved it all.

Time hadn’t just flown; it had sped by—I had been in bliss, immersed in words, immersed in work—fixing, thinking, planning, writing. And then the launch, the sales, the noise—and then. Today.

The books were finished. My hands felt empty.

You love your work, the Lord told me, on that still, silent morning. That is why I gave it to you. But that is not the most important reason.

There are so many “most important reasons.” In fact, I will never know how many. One is the man sitting beside a hospital bed, grieving the loss of his wife. Another is the young woman struggling with fear and loneliness, dreading the prospect of another day. Yet another is the elderly grandfather who has never known peace—but who will, once he has picked up a certain book whose words would lead him to the Living Word.

It’s all for the sake of the Gospel, the Lord reminded me. It’s all for Me.

That morning, my hands were empty. But my heart became full.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19–20a)

Lord, in my work, You are my meaning, my strength, and my joy. Help me to work by and for Your Name alone.

Karen Huang is a writer for various print media publications. She also does editorial work for OMF Literature Inc. When not writing and editing, Karen teaches essay-writing and creative writing to high school and college students. She is also the proud aunt of Sabina, Selena, and Caleb.

This article was an entry in our LittWorld 2015 Devotional Writing Contest.

Winners of the LittWorld 2015 Devotional Writing Contest

MAI is pleased to announce the winners of the LittWorld 2015 Devotional Writing Contest. Participants were invited to submit a short devotional article to inspire and encourage fellow Christian writers around the world. We were delighted to receive more than 90 submissions from 20 countries and 5 continents.

First place prize of $300 is awarded to Melanie N. Brasher of Canada/South Asia for her entry, “The Season of Oranges and Unfinished Writing Projects.” Judges commented, “Using gifts of nature as metaphor, oranges, the writer graphically dramatizes ripening in our calling and waiting on the Lord.”

Marcia Lee LaycockThe second place of $150 goes to Marcia Lee Laycock of Canada for “God’s Best Plan: Stop writing.” Judges remarked, “This devotional vividly addresses every writer’s struggle to find balance in life and work. When our writing becomes an obsession, more important than people and even God, it’s time to step back and seek God’s direction.”

The People’s Choice Award of $100 is awarded to Yessy Sutama of Indonesia for Yessy SutamaWritten in Tears.” Select contest entries appeared online at www.littworldonline.org, and this award is given to the one receiving the most Facebook “like” votes by the contest deadline of December 15. Yessy’s received 161 votes.

Judges commented, “This bitter-sweet story tugs at the heartstrings. It gives us a ringside view of pain, particularly the writer’s, and how pain can plunge us into darkness. By writing through her tears, she found a new way to overcome sadness and reignite her world.”

Our distinguished team of international judges for the writing contest included: Grace Chong, award-winning author of the Philippines; Pearl Griffith, author, editor, writer trainer and publisher in Trinidad; and David McCasland of the USA, writer for Our Daily Bread, and author of Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God.

“I want to assure each of you who submitted a devotional that you have won a personal victory,” said David McCasland. “There are many people who want to write, but few who actually do. You have written and you have won!”

Many of the contest entries will be featured in a new devotional book for global Christian writers, which will be launched at our LittWorld 2015 conference in Singapore this November.

John 2015 headshot“We look forward to sharing these devotionals with the global Christian community, and pray it will inspire writers to persevere and excel in their ministry of the written word,” said MAI President John Maust.

An Inside Look at Publishing in Pakistan

In countries where public evangelism isn’t possible, books and literature play apakistani-woman-writer-cropped-low-res critical role in sharing Jesus’ love. The manager of a leading Christian publishing house in Pakistan, unnamed for security reasons, shared his challenges and opportunities with us. For many years MAI has provided training support there.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Extremism. We need to be very careful in what we say and how it is perceived. Written material can be twisted for ulterior motives. Extremism has also prevented ordinary people from benefitting from our books. Secular bookshops are not open to stocking our books. People from a non-Christian background are often afraid to be seen reading Christian literature.

Q: What keeps you going?
The song, “People Need the Lord,” has encouraged us to keep moving even when the odds seem completely against us. We have seen people coming to know the Lord through our books. We have seen Christians being encouraged to press on in their faith.

song-book-ruh-ki-khushi Q: How do you reach readers?
We have a network of bookshops and organizations, including Christian hospitals, which make our literature available to ordinary people. Mobile book vans also travel to villages, schools, churches, seminars, conventions and other gatherings. People can purchase literature in the showroom in our building.

Q: How have you seen God working in your readers?
Nonbelievers are coming to know the Lord. Recently one young man experienced salvation through reading In Christianity Or in Christ. We hear of many examples.

Believers are being strengthened in their faith. Children at one school are trying to be salt and light after reading our storybooks and children’s Bible.

Q: What are your future ministry goals?
stories-kahani-chaat
We hope to publish more theological books to help serious Bible students. We plan to continue training local writers. Digitizing our publications for wider circulation is another goal.

Q: How can we pray? 
Our mere existence in these hostile surroundings is ample proof of the power of prayer. Please pray for God’s protection and that many Urdu-speakers are able to access our books so they too can experience God’s love.

Christian publishers and writers on the front lines are being equipped and encouraged, thanks to your partnership with MAI.

pakistani-childrens-book-cChildren‘s story available in English
Have you wondered how to help children pray for persecuted Christians? Want to understand what it’s like to live as a minority Christian?

We are pleased to offer an English translation of a selection from a book of short stories by a publisher in Pakistan. A Friend in Need by A. Iqbal is a short story about a boy’s battle with bullying. Email [email protected] for a pdf copy.

No One Cried at My Friend’s Funeral

By John Gathuku, Kenya

Yesterday we lay to rest the man who literally took me to church. No one cried at the funeral; his wife and children didn’t shed a tear.

He was our neighbor and a faithful choir member at a church in our hometown. He brought me along when he went for choir practice. We had a unique father-like friendship. On Sundays he dropped me off at children’s Sunday School. That was 30 years ago! I am now a grown man with three children. We kept in touch once in a while over the years and were always joyful to meet.

My friend was a super achiever. He pursued a bachelor’s degree at age 45 and was about to finish a doctorate at 63. His determination and tenacity was admirable. He uplifted his extended family economically and financially assisted many other people.

However something was amiss… A line in the eulogy confirmed my fears: “Throughout his life he maintained a very busy schedule.” He went abroad for further studies, leaving his young family for more than 10 years. They got used to living without him. When he returned, he was a part-time lecturer at a whopping six universities spread throughout the country, meaning a very hectic travel schedule for a man over 60 years old! He died alone in a car accident at 1 a.m. returning from one of his many engagements.

My friend was a loner. It’s clear he didn’t spend quality time with those closest to him. It’s clear he spent his resources and himself serving the “church” selflessly. Hundreds attended the burial. Cars thronged the small village and had to be parked at a playfield! He had so many acquaintances but none was intimate.

I felt deeply rebuked. I did some retrospection on my own schedule and realized I am particularly prone to the same trap. I kept postponing visiting with his family until it was too late. My schedule was busy!

My heart broke at the thought that I could be neglecting my own friends and family at the excuse of ministry demands. I spent the weekend in Eldoret and on Monday morning my son started crying in class, saying he was missing Dad. Some friends have complained it’s hard to get me on phone. Yesterday, for the first time in more than five years, I spent the whole day with my mum alone as we drove to the funeral service. She was so happy. I didn’t realize how much she missed my fellowship. I also lost the ritual of taking my wife out for dinner each fortnight. God help me re-organize and prioritize my life around what is eternal and matters most.

While we abhor idleness, busyness is not an option. While we esteem sacrifice, hard work and putting bread on the table, staying away from family is not an option. My employer will replace me when am gone but my children will never have another dad. Since I don’t know how many days are left, I want to spend them first intimately loving my family then ministering to God’s people.

It would be a sad thing if no one cried at my funeral.
John Gathuki
John Gathuku is the director of Timazi Magazine for high schoolers in Kenya.  “Timazi” is the Swahili word for Plumbline.