C O N T E N T S :
< Mongolia: Equipping a young church
< PUMA Serves Peru's Readers
< Quiet Preacher: Christian novel targets general Spanish market
< Developing Authors in the Middle East
< MAI Climbs the Great Wall
The beauty of the written word lies in its ability to be a quiet preacher to a reader's soul. In this issue, we highlight the latest novel by one of Latin America's best Christian fiction authors, Keila Ochoa Harris.
“Keila has the ability to not preach but rather tell a great story as she weaves truth through her characters,” says Larry Downs, her publisher at Grupo Nelson.
Like her book, El Bargueño [The Chest], other books, blogs and periodicals around the globe are whispering truths to people hungry for meaning. We applaud her and the servant-hearted writers, editors, designers, publishers and trainers working to end the famine of locally-created Christian literature.
-Dawn Herzog Jewell, Editor
When the Soviet Union collapsed and the Russians withdrew in 1990, only four known Christians may have inhabited Mongolia, a country the size of western Europe. Two decades later, more than 40,000 believers fill an estimated 400 churches, half of them in the capital. (Source:
Operation World 2010). Seventy-five percent of the population is under age 35, and churches reflect that youthful demographic.
The nation’s rapid church growth has resulted in an urgent need to deepen the faith of new believers amid a vacuum of locally-created Christian literature. Only 300 Christian titles are available in Mongolian, and the vast majority are translations.
Read about MAI's
recent workshops for designers and editors, the second part of our three-year commitment to equip and encourage Christian publishers in Mongolia.
PUMA Serves Peru's Readers
During a recent trip to Peru, MAI’s Ian Darke caught up with María Esther Ramírez, the managing director of Ediciones PUMA, based in Lima. Ian co-founded PUMA in 1990.
Although new shopping malls and supermarkets point to economic growth and Peru no longer suffers from the terrorism of 20 years ago, the vast majority of people live in poverty.
Q: What have you learned to help you produce books for people who lack resources?
No one, rich or poor, is going to buy a book that is poor in content or in production. We have learned to think carefully about the books our readers need and what will most help them.
We recently re-edited many of our early titles. Some are no longer appropriate, but many are now in increasing demand after lying dormant for a while.
We are also improving our designs on a limited budget. We are happy with our PUMA logo, an increasingly recognized feature.
Q: Tell us about your authors.
We thank God for those Peruvian writers we have worked with and who have grown along with us. Several of our strongest writers, like
Darío López and
Alex Chiang, have become well-known conference speakers around the country and across the continent. They naturally are the best promoters of their own books.
Q: Do you sell most of your books in Peru?
The majority are sold here, but there is good demand for our books in other countries. Since last year we have been using the Miami warehouse and dispatch facilities of
Letra Viva to export. Of course, as sales increase, this helps to us become more efficient and lower costs, which benefits local customers too. We recently started to sell books on
Amazon.com and the first orders are coming in.
Photo above: María Esther Ramírez (center), the managing director of Ediciones PUMA, pictured with LetraViva staff and fellow members at Expocristiana in Mexico.
Subscribe to our prayer updates to join us in ending the famine of locally-created Christian literature in the world's hard places. You'll receive occasional updates on MAI workshops and writers, editors and publishers with specific prayer points.
"Prayers are heard in heaven in proportion to our faith. Little faith gets very great mercies, but great faith still greater." -- C.H. Spurgeon
Christian novel targets general Spanish market
El Bargueño [The Chest]
is intended for non Christians…I want to show how people find God amidst traditions, because I believe God has many ways of reaching those who seek Him,” says Mexican author
Keila Ochoa Harris
about her recent Spanish-language novel.
plays a valuable role in
fiction line for the general market, which comprises 85 to 90 percent of its fiction sales. The book traces the lives of four individuals plagued by alcoholism and brokenness in 16th and 21st century Mexico, and shows how hardship can lead people to God.
“Keila has the ability to not preach but rather tell a great story as she weaves truth through her characters,” says Larry Downs, vice president and publisher of Grupo Nelson, the Spanish-language division of
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Keila’s storytelling for a general market reflects a growing trend in Christian publishing. Publishers such as Grupo Nelson are re-targeting their fiction because of sales opportunities. At present, fiction accounts for 27 percent of its revenue while Christian fiction contributes a marginal 1 percent.
Literature written for the general market can reach many readers who would never pick up an overtly Christian title. Christian publishers increasingly seek authors like Keila who incarnate the gospel without ignoring hard issues.
“We begin to address a society’s hidden issues with books like El Bargueño,” Downs says. Since its March release, readers say that the book’s theme of alcoholism is raising awareness of the addiction’s lengthening shadow in Mexican society.
Keila’s next novel focuses on the historical early church set in North Africa and will again target a general audience.
Keila helps manage MAI’s Spanish writer blog, "
La Aventura de Escribir." She is a new member of MAI’s board and has led writer workshops in Asia and Latin America.
Developing Authors in the Middle East
"Calling all Christian Arab Writers who want to make an impact on their world!" Thus cries the homepage of the
Christian Arab Writers' Initiative, the three-year training program organized by Ophir Publishers and MAI to develop the Middle East's best Christian writers.
Fifteen advanced writers will gather for the first training workshop this November 10-14 in Beirut, Lebanon.
MAI Climbs the Great Wall
Trustees of MAI-Asia recently visited publishing friends in Beijing and climbed the Great Wall.
Watch their greetings on
Photo above: MAI-Asia Trustee Hwee Yong of Malaysia shares a book with a young reader in Beijing.