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Watering the Arab World

- 05/22/09   Watering the Arab World

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Words for the World | MAI

May-August 2009 


< Lebanon: Hope for the Middle East
< Watering the Arab World
< Give the Gift of Training 
<  U X 2!

<  Different Kind of Big 

<  Pray for Upcoming Trainings


Hi, !

Where the Nile River flows in Egypt, life has flourished for centuries instead of withering under scorching desert sun. Likewise, Christian publishers in the Arab world are strategically located to offering life-giving literature in countries where people thirst for hope.

In this issue, read about one woman's journey in Lebanon and a unique gathering of publishers in Egypt. Christian publishers are watering the Arab world, and we can help equip them to do so even more effectively.  

Dawn Herzog Jewell, Editor

Lebanon: Hope for the Middle East

New magazine hosts writer workshop

Like nearly everyone in Lebanon, Colette Ghassan (left in photo) has endured loss and pain from 15 years of civil war (1975-1990), plus periodic outbreaks of fighting since. Her husband was killed when Colette was a 22-year-old mother of three small children; other relatives and friends have suffered in the violence. Yet today, Colette is a testimony of God’s grace.

In 1993, Colette attended an MAI writer workshop in Cypress. The trainers, Pat Alexander and Francis Fuller, affirmed Colette’s talent and exhorted her to use it for God’s glory. That seed took root in Colette’s heart alongside a dream to equip writers.

Last year before flashing media cameras, Colette announced the launch of Fresh Minds, her unique cultural magazine published in Arabic. Topics include health, fashion and beauty, relationships, technology, fine arts, movies and more. Articles aim to reach mothers, fathers and their teenage children, avoiding celebrity gossip, indecent ads or photos, and politics.

Colette realized her next dream this March when she hosted MAI’s writer workshop in Beirut, Lebanon. Sixteen men and women gathered to learn from MAI President John Maust and author Anne de Graaf (right in photo). Participants included a television announcer, a former MTV interviewer, a women’s radio program host, two Baptist publishing staff and an Armenian poet, among others.

One participant declined to write a personal experience article saying, “it is too painful to think about the past.” But one woman, Roula, decided to start writing her experiences of living along the Green Line during the war in order to process the past. The Green Line, an uninhabited space, once separated Muslim factions from the Christian Lebanese Forces in Beirut. Julie, another participant, hopes to write the story of a former child soldier in Beirut.

To deepen their friendships, many participants scheduled a reunion meal in Colette’s home. They have requested more specialized workshops in the future. A local Baptist publisher is committed to helping coordinate these trainings.

“If Lebanon works, it provides hope for the entire Middle East: a homegrown democracy with a strong economy and multicultural tolerance,” Anne writes.

Read Anne's blog post on Lebanon.

Watering the Arab World:

Egyptian publishers strengthen ties

Egypt’s population of 76 million accounts for one-third of the entire Arab world. Given the nation’s ties to both the West and East, its Christian population is strategically located. Stronger relationships among Egypt’s Christian publishers will contribute to a more vibrant Church in the Middle East.

Leaders of 10 Egyptian publishing houses gathered in Cairo for a unique conference in March. With MAI trainer Tony Wales serving as facilitator, the 20 participants discussed opportunities for collaboration, including staff training, seminars for writers and distribution efforts.

Conference host Dar El Thaqafa (House of Culture) is one of the largest Christian publishers in the Middle East. It is currently developing an Arabic Bible commentary, along the lines of the Africa Bible Commentary.

Following the publisher meeting, more than 25 pastors and church leaders from throughout Egypt participated in a two-day writer workshop, also led by Tony Wales. In addition, Tony provided a day of training and consulting for the Dar El Thaqafa staff.

“Egypt is perhaps the most strategic country in the Arab world. We have an entree and a platform of potential writers and Christian publishers who are looking for further support and help,” Tony said.

Photo above: The Nile River waters surrounding desert. Photo source: Wikipedia.

Give the Gift of Training

LittWorld 2009 
Nairobi, Kenya
November 1-6

“Hate, revenge and resentment” characterize the history of Congo,” Etienne Mbusa says. “Moreover, corruption, embezzlement, looting and rape are still a part of life in our community.”

To fight darkness with light, this Anglican minister recently formed a literature ministry to spread the Gospel in Congo. He wants to receive training at LittWorld 2009 in Kenya, but needs scholarship help to get there.

Your scholarship gift for LittWorld will help Etienne and others spiritually impact their nations through the ministry of the written word. As little as $150/£100 covers half the accomodation costs for a scholarship participant; a full scholarship plus limited travel aid is roughly $750/£500.

If you’re a first-time donor to MAI, your scholarship gift will be doubled through a matching grant from a generous foundation.

Give online.


        U X 2! 
Double your first-time gift to MAI, thanks to a generous foundation that will match your donation.

Or, double your gift each month by signing up for direct giving via any Visa or Mastercard or U.S. checking account.

Give online.


Different Kind of Big

In the past year, more than 220 people from 30 countries received training from MAI. These trainings ranged from one-on-one publisher mentoring in Serbia, Egypt and Hungary, to group workshops for writers and editors in French-speaking Africa.

We’ve become increasingly involved in the Middle East
and so-called closed countries of Southeast Asia. Plus, we’re about to hold our first LittWorld conference in Africa to help equip and encourage our
publishing colleagues there.

With all that’s happening, people sometimes think
MAI is “big.” In fact, we have only three headquarters staff and a smaller budget than many local churches'.

But MAI is big in a different sort of way. God has blessed us with a growing number of men and women with immense hearts for publishing ministry. They volunteer as trainers, pray faithfully and give generously.

Take Marlene Legaspi-Munar of the Philippines (photo below) and her recent gift for LittWorld conference scholarships.

“Attending LittWorld in 2006 was such an encouragement to me that I want other Christian writers to be able to attend as well,” Marlene explained. “So, I donated a portion from the funds I have been raising for the trip. I also believe that as I sow, I will also reap in due time.”

Marlene is praying for God to provide for her and others to attend LittWorld 2009, fanning interest through the LittWorld 2009 group on Facebook and her blog.

She recently finished writing a Bible-based values curriculum, and a publisher wants her new book for teens about friendship.

I was touched by Marlene’s generous gift from her own limited travel fund, and want to thank all of you who support MAI ministry. God is using your gifts and prayers to bring help and hope to talented Christian communicators around the world.

You are certainly “big” in our book.



J O H N   M A U S T

M A I   P R E S I D E N T

Pray for Upcoming Trainings

- Sri Lanka, May
writing and translating

- Mongolia, June
publishing and writing

- Indonesia, August
publishing and editing

- Kenya, November

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