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. 

Turkey: A Resilient Faith

While Turkey reels from terrorist bombings and refugees fleeing ISIS, its sole 0300x0300gokhantalasChristian magazine helps dispel despair. Since 2012 Miras magazine has been dishing up hope to a tiny Christian population—6,000 of its 70 million people. Before launching the bi-monthly magazine, Gökhan Talas and his wife were churchplanters until Islamist terrorists killed three teammates.

This June 23 to 25, Gökhan hosted a three-day MAI workshop for 14 writers near Istanbul. MAI’s Ramon Rocha, trainer Tony Collins of the UK and local Turkish author Pastor Ozbek led the training.

Learn more about Gökhan’s publishing ministry in our exclusive interview.

Do you ever feel like giving up in such a challenging context?
Sometimes I want to give up everything. But if you’re living in Turkey, you only have two choices. You can either serve or be lost and alone. I don’t want to be lost.

We have reason for serving our people—the darkness is very wide in Turkey. The Lord encourages us.

Tell us more about Miras magazine.
We want to be in touch with social problems. An issue last year focused on homosexuality and Christianity since a lot of our young people started arguing following the US Supreme Court decision.

Our contributors write on practical and theological topics. Each issue includes an evangelistic page, a teaching on the Gospel for unbelievers. A travel page introduces Christian historical sites in Turkey and nearby countries. We want to show Christianity has been here for years—Miras means “inheritance” in Turkish. We also feature an important person in Turkish Christian history. We include counseling topics, biblical perspectives for women, and more.

miras18_kapak-magazine-coverWho are your contributors?
We try to encourage mainly Turkish writers. Most of our writers are pastors or theologians in academia. If we find an exceptional article elsewhere, we will translate it. But we seek all local writers because our problems and needs are different from churches outside Turkey. We want to give our readers good vision for Turkey’s problems and Christianity in our country.

Tell us about your readers.
Since Christians are so few in Turkey, everybody needs each other. I’m the only Christian I know of from my hometown. In some cities there are no Protestant churches, so brothers and sisters attend the local Catholic church. We don’t focus the magazine on differences, but on common issues for Christians.

What is it like publishing for a limited readership?
People say, “You can’t sell anything Christian in Turkey.” The first generation of Christians gave all reading materials away for free. So now people don’t want to pay for books or magazines in churches. We sell our magazine for 5 Turkish Lira ($2 USD). To promote it we do public seminars on a topic related to the current issue of our magazine. It’s okay legally but there are risks we could get attacked.

What other challenges are you facing?
The postal system blocks us from distributing in eastern Turkey especially, so we’d like to make a deal with a private delivery company. We don’t have an office or vehicle—we carry the magazine copies from the printer in our backpacks. We’d also like to pay our writers more and hire a full-time editor.

Would you tell us about one of your readers?
A gay prisoner in İsparta wrote us and requested our magazine. He had been a prostitute, very dangerous work—nobody wanted to talk to him. My wife took him the magazine personally.

His life has been changing daily. My wife told him several years ago, “You’ll be married someday and have a child.” He replied, “My life is changing, but I’ll never be a man completely.”

A few months ago his wife had a baby boy. He wants to be a pastor and is currently on staff at a church. He’s starting to write his testimony as a book. He’s very brave.

>>Watch this 2-minute video with Gökhan Talas from our LittWorld 2015 conference

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