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"White Christian" a Contradiction?

- 05/01/08  

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May-June 2008


< Just Between Us

<  Lessons from Latin America in Selling Books Online
<  "White Christian" a Contradiction?
<  Top Ten Books

Hi, ! 

Both resolving a huge fight with a spouse and selling books online in Latin America can be as challenging as crossing the Red Sea. In this issue, an African writer and an online publisher offer input on how to emerge unscathed on the opposite shore.


Just Between Us

"African marriages are contracted to last forever," Lawrence Darmani says. "The key is believing you'll have difficulties and committing to work through them. You don't go into marriage as an experiment."

In his new book, Just Between Us, the award-winning author and publisher from Ghana addresses sensitive topics between spouses in 24 fictitious letters. The letters' subjects include adultery, impotence, imprisonment and more.

Darmani's idea for a book of intimate letters developed while reading Jerry Jenkins' Writing for the Soul. Jenkins wrote of a Vietnam soldier's love letter to his wife that interwove their marital struggles and joys. 

While many marriage books focus on difficulties, Darmani aimed to integrate the benefits of working through tough times and offer biblical perspective.

Tackling hard issues and balancing them with hope wasn't easy in the writing process, Darmani says. Particularly challenging was creating a wife's letter to her husband about her feelings regarding his admission of adultery. Despite this devastation, she offers forgiveness and continued commitment in response to his repentance.

"You're building strength as you overcome hardships," Darmani says. "It can seem like crossing the Red Sea, but you need to have faith you'll get to the other side."

Lessons from Latin America in Selling
Books Online

E-commerce is still emerging in Latin America, so selling books online is inconceivable for many small, local publishers. is one of the continent's leading websites in the sales of Spanish-language Christian literature. Priscila Barreda of LetraViva talked with site director Arturo Menesses in San José, Costa Rica, to learn the secrets of their success.

Q:  Has the journey into online book sales been worthwhile? 


Traditional distribution systems can be very problematic in Latin America. That's why the Internet has become such an exceptional alternative for us. The web has increased our options for promotion and publicity, and has facilitated the creation of new products. Also, we have managed to reduce costs and heighten efficiency. 


Q: What's the online market like for Spanish-language Christian literature?


In Latin America, the online buying culture is still in a formative stage. Statistics show that a large number of Internet users here refuse to make online purchases--they don't know how, no such option exists in their country, they distrust the site's security, or they don't have a credit card or other means for purchasing online.

Few institutions in Latin America can provide a solution for Internet sales here. As such, we see a great opportunity. The number of online users in Latin America increases every day. The tools for the creation or use of e-commerce systems are being constantly updated and improved. The Web continues to erase barriers and create opportunities that we cannot afford to miss.


Q: What have you learned from the initial risks you undertook?

First, and perhaps most important, you must maintain a good testimony. A system of e-commerce that has major defects opens the door to dishonest practices and/or transactions that can result in serious consequences for the organization. So, it's crucial that when you begin the project you have good technical assistance. Also, successful web commerce requires continuous follow-up and attention.

Q:  What advice do you have for publishers who want to begin online sales?


You cannot take lightly a decision of this kind. You must first do extensive and detailed research. A dear friend and advisor in our process of creating a virtual store always cautioned me: "First, you crawl, then you walk, and then you run."

"White Christian" a Contradiction?

"The average Christian in the world today is a conservative Pentecostal majority-world female," missiologist Scott Moreau told MAI recently. "The term, 'white Christian,' is almost an oxymoron."

It seems odd to view "white Christian" as a contradiction in terms--like, cheap gasoline or spine-tingling dissertation.  But no one doubts the numeric strength of the global church is moving South. The question then is what does or should this mean for international Christian publishing?

Speaking recently to MAI's international leadership team, Moreau said the chief characteristics of the majority world church include:  poverty, oral liturgy, emotionalism, participatory worship, faith healing, dreams, visions and an intense search for community. So, he suggested that local Christian publishers consider:

--publishing books and articles about healing, dreams and visions that are grounded theologically
--using stories to show what it means to belong to the Body of Christ

--turning longer manuscripts into "bite-sized" books

Some of the most prolific publishing is being done not by traditional houses, but by megachurch pastors with built-in audiences in the thousands, Moreau noted. How might MAI come alongside these megachurches to help them produce quality and contextual literature that impacts readers' lives and societies?

Even though the church is strongest in the global South, we still see a steady flow of Christian books from the West, and not the other way around. When's the last time you read a book by a conservative Pentecostal majority world female author?

If anything, Moreau's talk on global trends confirms the importance of MAI's work in equipping local Christian publishers and authors in hard places of the world.

J O H N   M A U S T

M A I   P R E S I D E N T

Top Ten List

Check out the 2008 Christianity Today Book Awards. Editors selected 10 books they felt "best shed light on people, events and ideas that shape evangelical life, thought and mission." 


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