Indonesia: A New Year’s Text

Yessy SutamaBy Yessy Sutama, Indonesia

The first morning of the New Year. I read a text message from my brother. A New Year’s reflection. So beautiful. I thought the greeting was quoted by my brother from another person’s text message to him. He often does this if he feels that the text was good and would be encouraging to me. However, when I read it this time the content felt so familiar. This made me think for a moment, and then I smiled. Obviously I was familiar with that writing because I myself was the author. It was one of the short reflections that I had contributed to a daily calendar.

I remembered similar occasions. Once when I experienced a crisis, a friend sent me back a writing which I had given her a few years earlier. All this time she had kept my writing because she felt strengthened by it. Now, she sent it back to me because she felt I needed to read my writing again to get encouraged. I did!

As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1). I myself do not think that what I write really could cheer other people, let alone myself. In fact, sometimes when I write, I do it without much thought.

These two occasions helped me to relate better with what a senior pastor and author said to me ages ago. Compared to preaching, he much prefers to write. According to him, even though his sermon is well prepared, people often forget it as soon as they leave church. In contrast, people will remember writing longer and the effect will remain longer. Writing can have a much stronger effect than the usual verbal delivery. That’s why he is a prolific writer and encourages others to write.

Unfortunately, perhaps due to our society’s low socioeconomic status, the culture of reading and writing in Indonesia is not very developed. It is indeed a challenge, especially for Christian writers in Indonesia.

Lord, help us, and especially Indonesian Christian writers, to remain steadfast in our writing so that we can be a blessing to others.

Yessy Sutama is a theological book editor at BPK Gunung Mulia, one of the largeLight_Writers_Soul_MAI_2Dst Christian publishers in Indonesia, and also edits Saat Teduh, the Indonesian edition of The Upper Room. Reading, writing and listening to music are her hobbies.

This article was published as “Not Just Mere Words” in our unique book, Light for the Writer’s Soul: 100 Devotions by global Christian writers. Get your copy today.

Read Yessy’s article, Written in Tears, winner of MAI’s People’s Choice Award in our devotional writing contest.

A Writer in Wonderland

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By Ivanova Nono Fotso, Cameroon

I know a young woman who has many grown-up responsibilities: university studies, work, chores, volunteering and church. Yet unbeknownst to the rest of the world, this young woman has a secret room in her heart. In that room, she revisits the world of a five year-old girl, filled with wonder at seeing a butterfly, running after a cat, dancing in front of the mirror and enjoying cartoons. That little girl also enjoys spending time with her invisible Father, telling Him about her day, and allowing Him to soothe her heart with His unconditional love.

This is my reality as a children’s author. It’s like sharing time between my young readers and the child in me. While translating Sunday school curriculum, the truth of a lesson, “God hears our prayers,” boosts my faith. As I write my children’s book, “Don’t Be Afraid,” I myself find peace. Even in the simple act of writing memory verses for Christmas, my heart dances in the tinsel light of truth affirmed.

Some people say to me, “You write for children? It’s a good start. Keep working, you will soon be able to write for adults.” They don’t hear the little girl in me chuckling. She knows she will always be ready to dance, skip and wonder.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Writing for children can help mold in us a loving and humble heart, an eagerness to learn, and trusting dependence on our Heavenly Father—all characteristics of little ones. Writing for children also gives us a glimpse of the greatest Wonderland, the kingdom of God.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving me the privilege to write for children. Help me to seek you and to keep a trusting and humble heart.

This article was published in our unique book, Light for the Writer’s Soul: 100 Devotions by global Christian writers.

Order your copy on SALE until 12/21 for only $9.99USD with FREE shipping within the USA.  Place your order now. Email: [email protected] or call 630.260.9063.  Light_Writers_Soul_MAI_2D

Ivanova Nono Fotso has written the children’s book, Même Pas Peur, short stories and articles for Jouv’Afrique and AMINA magazines, and parts of the comic collection Eclats d’Afrique. She resides in Cameroon.

Read more about Ivanova’s work in A Comic Strip That Borders Heaven.

 

“I Felt Locked In…”

By Mark Carpenter, Brazilmark_carpenter

As a young teenager growing up in a small town in Brazil, I had little access to the outside world. Only two TV channels were available, and the city newspaper carried only local news. I felt locked in.

Then the son of a Japanese immigrant opened a news kiosk downtown, featuring periodicals from all over the country. I was enthralled. It became my favorite haunt, and there I began to discover news about the dictatorship in our country, the war in Vietnam, the counterculture movement, and much more. I couldn’t afford to buy more than one or two newspapers a month, but Massao, the owner, would allow me to flip through the books and magazines. I was exposed to great journalism and news about economics, politics, art and culture. And my world was never the same. These writers, photographers, designers and editors opened up new channels of understanding. From a young age I had wished to serve Christ with my life, and now I began to imagine the world and dream about my own future.

Photo courtesy Chai25182518, Freedigitalphotos.com

Photo courtesy Chai25182518, Freedigitalphotos.com

I ended up dedicating my life to expressing truth through writing and publishing. Every week at our publishing house in São Paulo we receive letters from readers who live in remote areas, or who are locked up in prison, or who feel imprisoned in difficult churches, families or marriages. As we respond to them, I remember my teenage years, and I am reminded that our own writers, photographers, designers and editors can be the channels of truth and insight that will encourage, broaden perspectives, introduce biblical reality and point the way to new solutions.

Massao opened my mind to the world. As writers, we too hold the power to unlock imagination, inspire action and provide encouragement to those who feel excluded or unimportant, or who can’t see a way out of hopelessness, or who feel trapped by the circumstances of life.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11

Lord, thank you for the education I’ve received and for the access you’ve given me to your Word, to good books and to your wisdom as expressed by those who are close to you. As a writer, I need your help in deciding what and how to write in order to become a source of instruction, encouragement and inspiration to my readers. Give me humility and perfect my gifts. Amen.

This article by Mark Carpenter is published as “The News Kiosk”  in our book, LighLight_Writers_Soul_MAI_2Dt for the Writer’s Soul: 100 devotions by global Christian writers. Order your copy of this inspiring and unique devotional book, available in print or ebook formats.

Mark Carpenter is chairman and CEO of Mundo Cristão, one of Brazil’s largest publishers of Christian books, and an MAI board member.

 

 

A Comic Strip That Borders Heaven

Timazi Magazine of Kenya recently featured part one of “Big Day,” a comic stripcomic birthed by friendships made at MAI’s LittWorld 2012 conference. There John and Maggie Gathuku, who lead the Christian youth magazine, met Mexican illustrator José Carlos Gutiérrez (right in photo below) and author Ivanova Nono Fotso of Cameroon (left in photo).

José Carlos crafted illustrations for the comic script written by Ivanova, and submitted the comic to Timazi. When José Carlos’ computer crashed, Timazi’s designer in Kenya, James Njoroge, completed coloring the illustrations.

The seven-page comic, based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins, will be published in three issues of the magazine.

ivanova-jose-carlos-by-ian-darke-cropped-resized“This comic has a great emotional value since I started the drawings and sketches in a hospital room, a few months after returning from Littworld,” José Carlos said. His 21-year-old brother had been diagnosed with leukemia and began chemo treatments.

“He got saved in that same hospital as I prayed with him at the very beginning of his treatment,” José Carlos recalled. On the same day that his brother passed away, José Carlos completed inking the comic at the hospital.

Today comic books are the world’s most widely-read type of popular literature, capturing the interest of both children and adults. Christian publishers around the world are harnessing the genre to spread the Gospel.

Maggie hopes that “by reading this comic strip, students will understand and appreciate the message of our Lord Jesus Christ by preparing well for His coming.”

Gems in the Making: How to find and cultivate local authors

Manuscripts by local authors are considered “gems in the making” by Joy Solina, editorial manager of CSM Publishing in the Philippines. Since its founding, CSM has aimed to feature Filipino authors. This year’s line-up includes 27 original titles by Filipinos. We asked Joy to tell us about their vision. Watch her 3-minute video and read the extended interview below.

Tell us about CSM’s aims to publish local writers.
CSM is a firm believer in the Filipino Christian as the best writer for Filipinos. Who would know our culture, our heart language, our way of thinking and our diverse interests better? Therefore, manuscripts by Filipino Christians are considered gems in the making. Thus, we learned to develop the discipline and to understand the dynamics of publishing local writers.

How do you cultivate authors?
A good local author is someone who communicates well with his audience, either originally as a speaker/preacher or as a writer. When an author is both, that is a great find. Know the author’s strengths and uniqueness as a communicator so you can study how to draw out the best in his or her writing. Local authors usually are not familiar with the publishing process, so take great care and effort in explaining and guiding them as they write.

What is your 2016 line-up of locally authored books like?
This year our line-up of locally authored books caters to believers with various roles in life and ministries: relationships (love, marriage, parenting), inspirational, devotions for adults and for children, ministry resources (strategic planning, Bible teaching, worship), and personal finance. Twelve out of the 27 original titles to be launched at the Manila book fair this September are in conversational Tagalog, the local language.

It can be faster and more lucrative to get rights and publish books from abroad. How do you juxtapose that reality with your vision?
Republishing the many, many available best-selling books from overseas is always tempting.  Why go through all the trouble of developing new authors when you can publish big name authors more easily by simply obtaining a license to reprint their popular titles? But the vision of developing local authors directs your priorities. The process of publishing a work of a local author may be more tedious and expensive, but if its message communicates to your target audience better, you end up more successful. It goes without saying that local authors know the context of your target audience far better than foreign authors. This, of course, is just one aspect in the whole mix of producing a great product. Some of the other “ingredients” include book design, the kind of language used, and the price that suits your target market.

Tell us about a Filipino author you’re publishing this year.
One of our best-selling authors, Ed Lapiz, is the senior pastor of a large network of churches that started in the Middle East when he was working there years ago. His books cover relevant issues facing the average Filipino family that has a loved one working abroad—every Filipino family!…His five mini-books this year are entitled: Because of Life’s Uncertainties (facing the unknown), You Shall Not Murder Time (dealing with regret, unforgiveness), When the Floods Rise (the importance of a good foundation), The Great Ministry of Companionship (ministering to the lonely), and You Are Not…You Are (identity in Christ).

How would you advise publishers who want to develop more local authors?
Be open to changing the way you do things, such as how you recruit authors and work with them. Personalize the way you treat each author. When they like the way you handle them as authors and the way you take care of their titles, they will recommend you to other would-be authors. Be selective, flexible and committed to blessing your readers.

Study how to get the price your target market prefers, never give up, think out of the box, offer a helping hand, bend the rules every once in a while, and never lose sight of your goal—developing more local authors!