LittWorld leads to published book

By Yahya Djuanda, Indonesia

The LittWorld 2012 conference in Kenya had a really big impact on me, especially on my writing goals. I also learned much from other participants about how committed they are in writing with Christian values.

I met four people who really reignited my writing passion. They were from d1_014 indonesian greeting AfricanMongolia, China, Egypt and India. Their countries are similar to mine, Indonesia, where Christianity is a minority religion. They live their writing careers as a small light sparkling in the darkness of the country. They write a lot and help people without using Christian jargon. They are very inspiring to me. After Kenya, I continued to email with them.

Back in Indonesia, the conference experiences and inspirations slowly but surely made me stronger and more confident in my writing goals. I must be a light for my country through my writing. During my service as an editor at Berkat Christian magazine, I started to write a general book about fathering and a husband’s calling and responsibility. By “general book” I mean not an explicitly Christian book.

Why am I writing the book? Today in Indonesia there are some 220,000 legal divorces per year as noted in the Religion Office, or about 700 per day! These happen for various reasons, mostly disharmony, followed by economic reasons and domestic violence, and divorce occurs among young couples with low education.

My wife, a Sunday school teacher, also mentioned how many of her kids’ parents have problems. She was visiting kids’ houses to get to know the families deeper, and often found that the parents had problems in their marriage, such as living separately, not talking to each other, and domestic violence, but they were still in a legal marriage. In most of the families’ cases, the cause was the husband.

These cases will negatively impact soul development, mental strength and the religious lives of the kids. It will affect the kids’ personalities and characters, and impact his/her own future family. I heard a call in my heart to write about the issue.

I was a participant of a book writing camp in November (4 days and 3 nights, a year after the Kenya meeting), and during the camp I wrote the wholeYahya-book-cover-An draft of my first book. The camp was supervised by Edy Zaqeus, a Catholic best-selling author, ghost writer and writer coach.

My book title is: Andakah suami keren itu? (Are You A Cool Husband?). The book is about a husband’s calling and his responsibility as the head of family. The draft is finished, endorsements are there, and the quotes and jokes are in place.

We congratulate Yahya! After he wrote this article, one of Indonesia’s large general publishing houses released his book in October 2014. It’s now available on Amazon.

141124LittWorldPosHave you considered attending LittWorld 2015? Join us in Singapore, November 1 to 6. Don’t miss our triennial conference for Christian writers, editors and publishing staff from around the world. Invest in your publishing ministry and the readers you serve. You will gain fresh skills, vision and networks and become part of the global LittWorld “family.” Register today.

Time Management, Life Balance and Avoiding Burnout

SooInn Tan 2015By Soo-Inn Tan, Malaysia/Singapore

In his book Working the Angles, Eugene Peterson points out the following:

The Deuteronomy reason for Sabbath-keeping is that our ancestors in Egypt went four hundred years without a vacation (Deuteronomy 5:15). Never a day off. The consequence: they were no longer considered persons but slaves. Hands. Work units. Not persons created in the image of God but equipment for making bricks and building pyramids.

Keeping the Sabbath was therefore both blessing and sign. (See Deuteronomy 5: 12-15.) The people of God kept one day in seven free of their usual productive activity because they needed it. The fact that they could keep it was also a sign that they were no longer slaves. They were no longer under the cruel rule of Pharaoh and Egypt. They were now free, free under God.

As a people under the care of a loving God, they could afford to work when it was time to work, rest when it was time to rest. Sabbath-keeping was an eloquent statement of their status as God’s people and the reality of the sovereign, benevolent nature of God.

When I look at the frenzied hectic lifestyles of most Christians today, we seem to resemble slaves more than free people. We may no longer be in bondage to Pharaoh, but we are still slaves, slaves to fear, pride, greed, materialism, consumerism, etc. Like those who do not know God, we too push ourselves to work long hours, doing with as little rest as possible.

Christians in vocational ministry are no different. In fact because they are conscious that they are doing “God’s work” they are even less inclined to keep the divine work-Sabbath rhythm. As a result many of our best people burn out or become susceptible to all sorts of spiritual and emotional collapse.

I invite you to attend my webinar on Wednesday, April 22, at 8 a.m. CST, when we will address this problem head on–first by acknowledging the frantic pace of modern life, and then by looking at some key biblical and practical ways we can structure our lives so that we can continue to work hard healthily.

Register online now for MAI’s free webinar with Pastor Soo-Inn Tan, “Time Management, Life Balance, and Avoiding Burnout”

Soo-Inn Tan of Malaysia/Singapore is a founding director of Graceworks, a training and publishing consultancy committed to promoting spiritual friendship in church and society. Soo-Inn is committed to connecting the Word of God to the struggles of daily life through teaching, mentoring and writing.

Romania: Crowds Savor Coffee and Books

Customers sip java, chat with friends and browse bookshelves at Koffer, a koffer-barista-with-a-ba-in-theologycharming new coffee and bookshop in downtown Cluj, Romania. Sandor, a barista with a theology degree, brews gourmet coffee drinks and chats about the Christian books. How’s that for serving up creativity to reach new readers?

When Koffer opened its doors last November, a dream came true for publisher Balázs Zágoni of Koinoinia Books—an MAI-Europe Trustee—and his barista friend, Sandor (pictured above). They had witnessed many bookstores go bankrupt, and the high rent downtown was prohibitive. But when Balázs’ friend offered Koinonia the storefront for half the normal rent, it became a possibility.

koffer-children-area A refrigerator and furniture were donated. Sandor’s wife Krisztina offered her interior design skills gratis. Volunteers painted walls cheerful colors and patterns, and created original children’s artwork.

Sandor, a youth pastor, had also dreamed of a cozy place to reach people and enjoy one-on-one discussions about life and faith. For years he’d run a mobile coffeeshop at Christian camps and conferences, and had even been trained in barista ministry.

The opening was rescheduled four times due to a delay on official licenses, but prayer paved the way. “If I were to summarize in two words, it would be: ‘God provides,’” Balázs says.

Crowds filled Koffer, which means “suitcase” in some European languages, during opening week—the five tables and one children’s table always full. The cash register hummed with booksales for Christmas. Today seats are still scarce during busy hours. Balázs and Sandor hope the shop’s multi-faceted allure will make it sustainable long term.

Since its opening, customers have flocked here for two book launches. Balázs koffer-piano-in-the-suitcaseenvisions many more outreach events, including roundtables with authors, and promoting MAI and homegrown Christian literature.
“It is such a good feeling to see non-Christians searching through the shelves of Christian books, picking them up and reading the jackets,” he says.

Read our interview with
Balázs about writing his first sci-fi novel

Photos by Bea Angyalosi

Growing Intimacy with God

ramon rochaBy Ramon Rocha

A growing intimacy with God is essential for an excellent Christian leader. Our relationship with God, our spiritual maturity, or lack thereof, is reflected in our leadership—our actions and our decision-making. Our spirituality is evident in how we relate with staff and customers, and even in the kind and quality of books we publish.

How are you growing in your spiritual life? One critical component of a growing relationship with our Heavenly Father is a vibrant and regular personal devotion time, like Moses had with God. They met for intimate exchanges in the “tent of meeting” (Exodus 33). There “the LORD used to speak to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend” (v. 11).

Do you have an equivalent “tent of meeting”?

When I worked as CEO of OMF Literature in Manila, one of my duties as a father was to drive each of my four children to school each morning. I had to be early enough to beat the notorious Manila morning rush hour traffic, arriving at my office around 7:30 to 7:45 a.m. I closed my door and enjoyed an uninterrupted 30 to 45 minutes of reading the Bible, meditating on his word and praying before most staff arrived.

If a regular quiet time is essential to a “rank and file” follower of Christ, how much more for someone who leads other Jesus followers in a Christian organization?

Get to know God and spend time with him. The more you worship him, love him, obey him, experience him, his attributes and character, the more you become like him. And your face will have a radiant glow like that of Moses’ coming out of the tent of meeting (Exodus 34:34-5).

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.

A First Sci-Fi Novel for Young Adults

Balazs ZagoniLast year Balázs Zágoni of Koinonia publishing house in Romania was awarded MAI’s David Alexander Author Fund to complete his first science fiction novel for young adults. Until now Balázs has published nine children’s books, but he has always wanted to be a novelist. Sphere, his working title, describes a futuristic era of food and fuel shortages and severe climate change.

Vic, a 13-year old boy, lives with his father in a mushroom colony. He encounters a strange transparent being, a sphere, who saves his life and with whom he can communicate telepathically. Vic struggles to choose between the warnings of his family and the tempting benefits associated with his unique friendship. We interviewed Balázs about his journey writing sci-fi:

What have you found most challenging in writing science fiction?
I discovered after my second draft that a science-fiction novel needs similar research to a historic novel. Well, you cannot read the history behind a sci-fi novel—you have to write it! So I started to write the last 30 years in the history of this city and its colonies. Plus the back stories of Vic’s parents. I needed to write dozens of pages, even if they don’t go directly into the novel. That hopefully will create a much sharper picture of this imaginary world.

What lessons do you want young adults to take away?
I do not want to teach any kind of lessons! Sometimes even for me it is a question where the story goes. What interests me is situations in which we are tempted to convince ourselves that we are on the right track, while in fact we are not.

Vic has several intense inner dialogues during moments in which he has to make tough decisions. He must choose between his family’s seasoned advice and his own limited, personal experience. Which is reliable? Is the sphere a sort of friend and helper, a kind of savior, or a cunning enemy trying to seduce and enslave him?

What is your favorite science fiction book?
Recently I enjoyed very much Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but I enjoyed and learned a lot from Stephen Lawhead’s Bright Empire series too. Though they are not sci-fi, the Harry Potter books had a great impact on me also.

How have your cultural roots influenced your writing?
I grew up in Communist Romania until I was 13. Then the Iron Curtain fell. And I became a Christian when I was 19. These two things influenced me a lot. I am also an ethnic Hungarian living in Romania. So I am sensitive to issues where there is a majority and a minority, or where there are different cultures.

I was raised by my writer and journalist parents telling me, “As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being.” I speak three languages fluently. There is always another point of view, which seems very true for the other person’s life and cultural background.

When do you hope to have the book complete?
My son enjoyed it and gave the draft to two other friends. He keeps encouraging me and asking when it will be ready. I hope to have the final draft finished this year.

<Learn how Balázs started writing in our interview, “An Accidental Children’s Writer