The Best Kind of Good News

By John D. Maust, MAI President John 2015 headshot

What is the best good news that you have ever received?

I recently asked some friends to describe a time when they received some really good news.

Some, with great emotion, shared dramatic news:
*A scary medical test that came back negative
*A family member had survived a serious accident or catastrophe
*An unexpected financial gift in a time of hardship
*The offer of a new job

Strikingly, each case involved a hard situation that was entirely beyond the person’s power to control or change.  A happy resolution depended on someone, or something else—regardless of the person’s skills, contacts or maneuvering.  That’s what made the news so good.

We Christians know about another kind of Good News. But the phrase can become a kind of spiritual cliché. Maybe it’s time we reflect on what makes this news so good.

People try in vain to earn God’s forgiveness or approval through good works. But the Good News is that our salvation is entirely a gift through faith in Jesus Christ. What a relief. What amazing grace. What good news!

MAI is privileged to equip Christian publishers and writers who are sharing Good News around the world, often at personal risk or sacrifice.

Kornel (left) with ChinKar Tan of Singapore, LittWorld 2015. Photo by Karen Crespo.

Kornel (left) with ChinKar Tan of Singapore, LittWorld 2015. Photo by Karen Crespo.

“Publishing is not about making books and selling them, but about fulfilling a larger calling: to spread the Good News to our hopeless world with the help of the Holy Spirit,” said Hungarian publisher Kornel Herjecki.
Each book and article published as a result of MAI training has the potential to transform a reader’s life, to strengthen the Church and to influence society with Christian values.

Thank you for helping global publishers and writers share the Good News through your prayers and gifts.  And, take a moment to reflect on just how good this news really is.

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

How to convert the spoken word to the written word

By Ian Darke

Many Christian leaders, pastors and teachers share excellent spoken messagestony-wales-marketing-cropped worth hearing throughout nations and across borders. Unfortunately, these key communicators often either lack the time to write or the gift of writing. One solution is recording a talk or sermon, and converting the spoken word into written form.

David Porter was an acknowledged expert of the craft, a respected freelance editor from the U.K. He was responsible for the publication of the Keswick Bible readings, an outgrowth of the annual Keswick Convention.

While David was still alive, he shared these tips with me on overcoming the challenges of editing recorded talks.

1. Cut about 30 percent of the text. Apart from verbal “tics,” spoken communication requires repetition that is not appropriate in a written text. Remove some of the greetings, references to the immediate context and some anecdotes.

2. Create an “on page” flavor that is faithful to the speaker’s style and approach. This can be a challenge. You have to include the content of the message, preserve its structure and make it plain. In doing so, you need to keep his or her “voice.”

3. Find a written alternative to the speaker’s gesticulation or tone of voice for emphasizing the main points. The art is to maintain the flavor of the spoken communication, while making the sentence structure as simple as possible.

4. Leave in words like “this morning over breakfast” to give flavor if editing a conference talk. At times, indicate when things happen, like the conference tent falling down! Whatever you do, the message must be clear and interesting.

5. Look at the by-play between talks and the dovetailing between them when editing a series of talks, such as from a single conference. In the written text, include cross references and links. An introduction to the series or group of talks may be helpful.

6. Some biblical quotes should be included, but not all. Readers can look up quoted verses.

7. In a series of talks or conferences, it’s helpful to ask speakers to waive the right to approve your written version, although you may want them to check it at times. Speakers have to recognize that these are edited transcripts, not a book they would have written themselves. However, it’s good practice for a conference leader to check all the texts, just in case the editor has misunderstood something.

*The photo above has no relationship to the actual text of this article.

France: Comics for Christ

Interview with French artist Didier Millotte

By Marija Birchard
 
Like many children in France, Didier Millotte grew up devouring comic books anddidier-doubs imagining their heroes. His childhood passion never faded. Didier has published more than 20 comic books and graphic novels over the last decade, including his recent book on the life of Jesus. Last year, he was recognized as illustrator of the best Christian comic book of 2011 in France.
 

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 have begun harnessing the genre to spread the Gospel.

Why do you believe the comic book industry is so popular currently?
D.M.: A combination of strong graphic images, their ability to stimulate the imagination, and a narrative based on dialogue. These characteristics allow the reader to identify with characters in the story.

The reader is an actor and can easily project himself into the skin of the characters. Comic books allow the reader to “live” history by imagining it. We find that in movies, but comic graphics bring a pleasure that film cannot because film viewing is more passive.

monsieur-vincent-copy

Didier’s award-winning comic book

Why are comics valuable for Christian publishers?
D.M.: Comics are a great vehicle for the Gospel message because they allow the reader to immerse themselves in the words and participate with the story.

In addition, fiction is an ideal form to send a spiritual message. Storytelling is a great force for human beings; it can move the heart as well as the mind. One of the best examples of this is Jesus’ parables.  
 

Tell us about a reader who’s been influenced by Christian comics.

D.M.:
One day a Swiss boy was gathering old papers and magazines for recycling. He found some Christian comic magazines and thought, “Oh, cool, some comics!”
 
He took them home and read them. He was surprised that they talked about Jesus. “What’s this? How strange,” he thought. The stories touched his heart deeply. That was the beginning of his life with Jesus. Today Alain Auderset is an author, publisher and musician who has enjoyed great success with his Christian comics for teenagers.
 
What projects are you working on now?
D.M.:
I recently wrote a modern-day encounter of a young man in search of a father and an old Christian missionary. I’m also hoping to design a 200 to 300 page graphic novel of the Gospels with modern narration. And I’m working on several projects for kids.

How are you involved in training African writers and artists?
D.M.: In 2010, I was invited to teach workshops in Cameroon and the Central African Republic. There I met with African Christians interested in writing and drawing comics. Now I’m coaching an African writer on a script and will be helping the illustrator develop comics on themes of sexuality, AIDS, abortion, fidelity and more. 

Contact him at [email protected] or on Facebook.

Marija Birchard is a former MAI intern who graduated from Moody Bible Institutemarija-birchard-cropped with a BA in Communications-Print Media.

MORE:
 
-Didier Millotte’s blog
 
-Look inside one of Didier’s children’s books
 

-Didier illustrated the Gospel and Acts in this French comic Bible

-Didier was awarded winner of the “best Christian comic” of 2011 for Monsieur Vincent

Christian Comics International, a comprehensive online guide
-A free comic in French on the life of Jesus

New Publishing Effort Targets Bulgarian Women

By Cristina Krahling

The challenges many Bulgarian women face are familiar to Gabi Madjarova (right): gabrielabalancing work with piles of laundry and dirty dishes, paying bills and juggling time for family. The 30-something mother of four is already known for her family life column in MP’s Leah Magazine.

When her first book launches in early 2015, it will debut Leah Library, a new publishing line by and for women by Mission Possible (MP) Bulgaria. “Bulgarian women feel sort of second class, more like Leah than Rachel,” a staff member explained about the name.

After successfully nurturing local magazine writers like Gabi for years, editors Svetlana Karoleva and Daniela Encheva  yearned to inspire women with homegrown books. MAI began helping to equip Bulgarian writers in the 1990s.

svetlana-karoleva-alice-crider

Bulgarian editor Svetlana Karoleva (left) with American editor Alice Crider

marion-stroud-and-gabriela-madjarova

British author Marion Stroud with Gabi

MP’s editorial team launched a monthly writer club in 2002 and began leading workshops on their own in 2006.

This June, Gabi and 10 other women gathered for a five-day writer training hosted by MP Bulgaria. Nearly all the women had been published in Leah Magazine and are creating books to encourage their countrywomen. Gabi’s manuscript, Hi, Diary!  includes poems, practical articles and inspiring reflections on a woman’s world.

MAI trainers Marion Stroud, Alice Crider and Marion Osgood helped Gabi and fellow writers shape manuscripts in group and one-on-one meetings. Writers will reunite in six months for encouragement and accountability.

Two more titles are planned for Leah Library in 2015—The Red Dress Decision, an autobiographical testimony by Nadia Ianakieva; and an inspirational book for the Christmas season.

“We long to see Bulgarian Christian women reflecting God’s image of the Christian woman in these last days – passionate and bold for the Lord, ready to go to the end with Him, no matter what,” Svetlana says. “At the same time women who are tender, merciful, and compassionate.”

MAI intern Cristina Krahling is a senior communications major at Moody Bible Institute. She enjoys scriptwriting, playing classical guitar and reading. Cristina plans to pursue a career in writing for publication upon graduation in December.

Photos courtesy of MP Bulgaria