Inside MAI Blog: Thoughts on global publishing

Good-bye is the hardest word

The writer training in Lebanon concluded on Saturday night, as many workshops do, with spontaneous large- and small-group photos, laughter, hugs, the noting of emails and exchange of business cards. The trainers and 17 writers from 4 Middle Eastern nations mingled in the meeting room and hallways long after the final session ended.

Everyone felt tired after five days of writing, re-writing, listening, thinking, sitting and missing family and outside news. But no one rushed away for needed sleep before their long journeys home the following day.

Would we see one another again this side of heaven? That was the unspoken question in our good-byes and farewell conversations, the proverbial “elephant in the room.”

Some in the group faced uncertain futures and potential risks. A Syrian participant, living temporarily in Lebanon, vowed to return home at Christmas despite the threat of being harassed, or even jailed, because of his criticisms of the regime there. An Egyptian writer feared his nation’s Christian community would suffer negative consequences from the recent elections. He shrugged, “If you are doing anything that’s worth anything in ministry, you will be persecuted. We expect it.” Certainly, there would be no shortage of things for which to pray for one another in the days and weeks to come.

In today’s globetrotting world, the odds of us seeing one another again are higher than they would have been in previous generations. I for one hope to see some of these writers at our LittWorld 2012 conference in Kenya.

No matter what, I expect that friendships formed during this workshop, held on a hilltop overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean coastline, will endure for months, if not years. Many will stay connected through prayer, email, Facebook and Twitter.

Years from now, when the 17 writers look at photos taken on the last night of the writer workshop, I pray they will remember this training and exclaim, “That was when my writing really took off.” 

Photo above right: Trainers Miriam Adeney (2nd from left) and Alice Lawhead (2nd from right) flanked by two Egyptian writers

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