Inside MAI Blog: Thoughts on global publishing

Planting Seeds of Life in the Arab Spring

I've just returned from a week of meetings with publishers in Egypt and Lebanon. I received lots of good input regarding our  training program for Arab Christian writers and editors, the Christian Arab Writers Initiative (CAWI). 

In Egypt, everyone was talking about the drive to collect signatures calling for early elections in hopes of removing President Morsi. As many as 15 million people have already signed the petition (compared to 13 million who voted for him in the elections). The opposition has announced mass demonstrations on June 30. People are worried about possible widespread violence.

In Lebanon, all eyes are focused on the raging violence next door in Syria, and the thousands of Syrian refugees entering their country. As many as 1 million Syrian refugees are in Lebanon, a tiny nation of 4.1 million. Lebanese fear the Syrian conflict could escalate into a regional war.

The region’s turmoil, uncertainties and sectarian strife are creating anxiety on one hand, and spiritual hunger on the other.

A pastor at Dubara Church near Tahrir Square in Cairo said it’s not unusual now for women wearing veils to come in off the street to attend prayer meetings at the church. (This is the church, which attracted world attention when it set up a clinic to treat and minister to hundreds of injured protestors during the Arab Spring revolution two years ago.)

A publisher told me about a Saudi woman who became fed up with fundamentalist ideology and turned atheist. Then she read an Arabic translation of Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love, loosely based on the Hosea story of the Bible. “If there is a God, He must be like the one described in that book,” she told the publisher. Ultimately, she committed her life to Christ, and now carries a business card with the text of John 8:32 on the back.

The Arab world needs Christian writers who will winsomely address today’s issues from a Biblical perspective. Lebanese theologian and writer Ghassan Khalaf, told me, “Our material should go beyond the walls of the church. We need to make a breakthrough and reach out to the masses with our literature.”

Dr. Khalaf self-published a book, God and Politicians, which looks at political leadership from the good and bad examples of 8 “politicians” in the Old and New Testaments—ranging from David to Caiaphas. The book quickly sold 4,200 copies in a year, a high figure in the region. 

Please pray that God will raise up Arab Christian writers whose books and articles will plant seeds of Life in the Arab spring.

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