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Nation in Search of Peace
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Violence has rocked Kenya, but Christians are using words to fight for peace.
Read one writer's own gripping story. Also, get a peek inside the life of one of Mexico's best Christian fiction writers.
| Kenya: Nation in Search of
As Kenya reeled from post-election
violence, one Christian writer put his pen to work for peace. Samuel Kahura
Chege lost his own father in past tribal killings and hopes to help fellow Kenyans reconcile and find lasting peace. The following is an
excerpt from his soon-to-be-published book, Let's Save
I learned of my father's cruel death through the media.
Five people from my village near Burnt Forest, in Eldoret, had been killed on that fateful night in 1993. The scene was horrible. Dad was butchered
like a sheep in what was believed to be an ethnic cleansing...
Three months after dad's burial, the situation had calmed down. I went to the
area to see whether there was anything to salvage. Our houses had been razed completely, our livestock stolen, and our crops harvested from our
As I investigated for three days, I realized those who had stolen our household goods and burned our houses were people known to
us...People I had lived with, gone to school with, and worshiped with in the same church for years...
This troubled me for months. Should I
avenge? Should I ever have anything to do with people from the tribe that killed my father? This and many other disturbing questions haunted
Learn how you can pray for Kenya
Direct from Kenya- check out what our blogger friend is
Keila Ochoa Harris
Young author Keila Ochoa Harris continues to bring life to biblical characters in her latest book, Palomas (Grupo
Nelson), about the life of Jonah and his call to Nineveh. Keila has two other published books: Los Guerreros de la Luz (Milamex), a juvenile fantasy with a Christian message, and
Retratos de la Familia de Jesús
(Verbo Vivo), which illustrates the lives of some of Jesus' ancestors from Adam to Eli. Based in Mexico City, she is currently studying for a Masters
Degree in biblical counseling, concentrating in women's studies. Keila also serves as an MAI trainer and translator for the Spanish-language edition
of Trainer Network
Q: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
This is a tricky question. As an avid reader I always wanted to write. I wanted to be Jo from Little Women. But I
guess in my early twenties I consciously decided to write novels.
Q: What is your favorite part of the writing
The creative part, that is, actually writing the novel.
Q: What is the
most difficult part of the writing process for you?
The most difficult part for me is re-writing. So I take it step by step and I try to read the
manuscript out loud or all the way through to find the weak spots.
Q: Do you ever want to or feel you need to take a break
I think God sends me breaks, even when I don't feel I
need them. He sends activities to do, people to talk to, new projects to develop, and I just obey. I'm a workaholic, so I need distractions and time
off once in a while.
Q: How did you get the idea to write your new
book on Jonah?
I was working with Tyndale as
a stylist in the Spanish version of the NLT [New Living Translation]. I had to check the book of Jonah and I started asking myself many questions
which I tried to answer through the novel.
Q: How do you get ideas for your projects?
I used to read the following comment from other authors and I didn't believe it, but now I know it's for real: "Books seem
to come to you. Characters pop out from many places and you just have to sit down and write." Of course, the writer's part is to do the
research, especially for historical fiction.
Q: Do you have an idea for the next book
I'm working on a series of
short stories about animals, more focused on the educational market; and the sequel to Los Guerreros de la Luz is almost ready to be out on the
Q: What are you currently
I'm reading books by women
writers, most of them Latin American or of Hispanic roots: Rosa Montero, Sara Sefchovich, Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez.
You were the trainer for MAI's writer workshop in Bolivia in August. What lasting impressions has that experience had on you?
I loved this workshop. I enjoyed meeting the wonderful Bolivian writers and being
useful to them. The workshop was very practical. Participants had a couple of sessions a day and they spent most of the time actually writing and
being edited. I think this was very valuable because it helped them to experience the process of rewriting and self-editing their own
manuscripts. I also found them very cooperative, enthusiastic and hard-working.
Q: How can we pray for
For wisdom when making decisions, such as what to publish next; and for humility. It's hard to
suddenly become a published author.
-Sasha Brady, MAI
A partner church recently asked me to rank the top 10
happenings in MAI ministry during 2007. "Well, I didn't get malaria, unlike in 2006!" came first to mind.
But thinking further, I realized lots of good things happened last year,
and it was hard limiting them to 10. Here's the list:
1 Completing a writer workshop in Pakistan just weeks before the eruption
of violence after the murder of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, and being reminded of the importance of publishing Good News in a context of
violence and despair.
2 Seeing Fount of Wisdom in Cambodia develop its first book by a local Khmer writer--the children's book,
3 Convening a forum for Christian publishers in East/Central Europe on
creating books and articles for the general market.
4 Taking steps to hold our first LITT-WORLD conference in Africa in
5 Visiting and encouraging a courageous Christian publisher in Malaysia who is creating children's books in the local language--a risky
thing to do in this Muslim nation.
6 Sending author Keila Ochoa of Mexico to lead our writer workshop in Bolivia--a case of the "trainee" (we
first met Keila when she was a teenager in a Mexico workshop) become the trainer.
7 Discovering that Peruvian publishers found new authors and
manuscripts as a result of our editor/author workshop there last summer.
8 Holding a successful Christian writer workshop in Myanmar/Burma, shortly before the
totalitarian government crushed massive freedom demonstrations in the capital.
9 Seeing the MAI-Asia Trustees host a special "launch" meeting in
Singapore, introducing local friends to our training ministry in hard countries of Asia
10 Building closer ties with Christian publisher
friends around the world. I was touched by Croatian publisher Bruna Teresak's comment,
"If MAI were to suddenly vanish from the face of the earth, it would leave a huge gap. I guess a tremendous number of people all over the world would
feel disconnected and even a bit lost."
I found it surprising, and encouraging, to recall what the Lord accomplished through MAI in 2007. Why
not take a few minutes and compile your own top 10 list of things God did in and through you last year?
J O H N M A U S T
I P R E S I D E N T
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