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- 03/01/08  

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March-April 2008


<  Top Ten List

< Kenya: Nation in Search of Peace

<  Mexico: Interview with Mexican Author Keila Ochoa Harris
<  Bookworms Unite

Hi, ! 

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 Peace

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
Our Nation.

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 farm!...

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 me.

Read more

Learn how you can pray for Kenya 

Direct from Kenya- check out what our blogger friend is saying

Interview with
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 newsletter.

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 process?


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 from writing?


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 yet?

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 market.

Q: What are you currently reading?

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.

Q:  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 you?

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 intern

Top Ten List

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, Miknia's Doll.

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 2009.

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

M A I   P R E S I D E N T

Bookworms Unite

See what your friends are reading, what others with similar tastes have enjoyed, join or start a book or author club online, and much more.  and are online services that connect booklovers worldwide over favorite reads and authors. Authors, publishers, libraries and booksellers can take advantage of features too.


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