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Dickens or Darmani: That is the question

- 01/15/09   Dickens or Darmani: That is the question

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Words for the World | MAI

January-April 2009 


< The Fire Inside: Writers inspired at Asia conference

< Find Your MAI Friends on Facebook  

< Write to Win: Enter the LittWorld writing competition

< Africans Ramp up Teaching Skills

< Invest in Reaching the Nations

< Dickens or Darmani: That is the question 

Hi, !

Last year talented men and women in publishing from more than 28 nations benefitted from MAI's training. Half of those were writers who participated in our Asia conference, which ignited a fire to write (see below, "The Fire Inside"). 

In 2009, we are preparing to trek to Nairobi, Kenya, for LittWorld 2009. In this issue, check out an award-winning African author, and get inspired to enter our competition with your own winning piece. You could win a scholarship to LittWorld.

Dawn Herzog Jewell, Editor

The Fire Inside:
Writers inspired at Asia conference 

“The days in Chiang Mai were unforgettable,” wrote Timothy, creative writer and manager of a Christian radio station in Mongolia. MAI’s Asia Christian Writers Conference in Thailand, October 15-19, encouraged isolated writers like Timothy and spurred the creation of Christian literature across Asia.


The 50 talented participants from 14 nations included: five Vietnamese starting a magazine, a former child soldier from Cambodia, a former TV journalist from Singapore, a Laotian doctor who converted via a Korean missionary in the Moscow airport, and a 17-year-old student who arrived with his finished first draft of a novel.


Writers chose from five different tracks: fiction, the non-fiction book, magazine articles, youth and children, and writing for non-Christians. They spent at least half the time writing and receiving guidance from instructors. 


“I was very discouraged as an editor in my radio station and felt weak as a young short-story writer,” wrote Timothy. “This was an answer to my prayer, encouraging me to write more, and write confidently.”


Less than 10 percent of Asians identify as Christians, and some face persecution for their faith. In countries like Mongolia, where communists ruled until 1990, Christian communities have only recently developed. Since many Asians view the Gospel as a Western import, locally authored Christian literature is critical for growing the Church. “I am sure we will see published books and articles as a result of this conference” said MAI President John Maust, who led the magazine track.


Several authors are forming writer groups in their own countries for mutual support. A new MAI-Asia writer group on Facebook provides continuing interaction across borders.


“There is fire inside, even though there is snow outside,” Timothy wrote after returning home.  “Thanks to all of you for sharing this fire and encouragement with Mongolians.”

>>Read Timothy's letter to MAI

>>See a sampling of conference photos

Find Your MAI Friends on Facebook

>>Join the MAI Fan Club and the LittWorld 2009 group.
Connect with your friends in global publishing there.

What is Facebook? Millions of people use Facebook every day to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.

Write to Win:
Enter the LittWorld writing competition

Win a scholarship to LittWorld. Write an article telling a true story of the power of Christ to achieve reconciliation and forgiveness. Your story should show how the Gospel can bring healing in a hurting world. Deadline: March 1.


Read the complete guidelines.

Africans Ramp up Teaching Skills


African publishers, writers and editors met in Ghana for MAI’s Train-the-Trainer conference last November. Men and women from eight countries learned how to share their publishing knowledge.


I went away feeling I had learned things that were transferable to others— that had been my prayer,” said Iyabode Okoro, editor of Family Heartbeat magazine in Nigeria.

Photo by Gregory Burgess. Left to right: Trainer Richard Crespo of the U.S., Mary Kiio of Kenya, and Esme James of Sierra Leone.

Invest in Reaching the Nations

Many Christian writers and publishers come from impoverished nations where the Church is small and struggling. Airfare and conference costs are prohibitive to many—about 40 percent of LittWorld participants require scholarship help.

By donating scholarship funds, you invest in reaching the nations and strengthening the Church through life-changing Christian literature. 


Give online. It's safe and simple.


Dickens or Darmani: That is the question 

Not many contemporary novelists are mentioned in the same breath with Charles Dickens…unless you happen to be Lawrence Darmani. The gifted Ghanaian author was recently informed that his novel, Grief Child, and Dickens’s Oliver Twist have been selected as the two required novels for high schools across Ghana.


As gripping as Dickens may be, most schools are likely to choose Lawrence Darmani and Grief Child (Lion Publishing). Not only is Lawrence a favorite son and the setting of his novel familiar to students, his book won the British Commonwealth Writers Prize for first novel (Africa Region) in 1992.


MAI salutes Lawrence for this well-deserved honor. As our regional trainer for Africa, Lawrence gives his time unselfishly in equipping and encouraging Christian writers across the region. He also publishes books and two magazines. Yet, amid his busyness, Lawrence sees his real calling as a writer, and he carves out time for it. The recent news is well-deserved recognition of the quality of his craft.


Christian worldview
Interestingly, both Oliver Twist and Grief Child depict a child’s struggle to survive in a hostile environment—the orphan Oliver in London’s 19th century urban jungle, and the lonely Adu fending for himself in rural poverty after losing his family. Oliver’s fate is impacted by a series of coincidences in the true Dickens style. Adu’s story, however, carries an implicit Christian message that God is in control, even in the darkest circumstances.

Lawrence’s commitment to excellence won him a platform on the national stage, and it also gave him the opportunity to share a message of Christian truth and hope in the marketplace of ideas.


As Ghanaian students read Lawrence’s novel, I expect many will become fans and say, in the words of little Oliver, “Please sir, may I have some more?”



J O H N   M A U S T

M A I   P R E S I D E N T

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