András Visky's award-winning books and plays and the work of his publishing house have been influenced by years of persecution behind the Iron Curtain. As a child, he endured five years in a Communist gulag with his mother and six siblings. His father, a minister, was imprisoned elsewhere for 22 years. Later, András was under surveillance by the secret police as a political dissident.
Today András aims to bring theology and faith beyond church walls, aiming to bridge any lingering spiritual and cultural divide in Romania. “We try to convince our readership and culture that theology has to be part of our thinking and discourse,” he told 55 publishers, editors and authors from 21 European countries gathered at the MAI-Europe Publishing Forum at Schloss Mittersill, Austria, in late April.
András challenges Christians to invite communion with those outside their comfort zones, as Jesus did: “I want to encourage you to consider yourself a full-time member of your national culture.”
He and other speakers encouraged fresh approaches to creating effective Christian literature for Europe's non-Christian majority. Publisher Steven Dixon of France was inspired to launch a new brand of books geared toward young professionals. “They don't have such strong categories in their mind between religious and non-religious thinking,” he said.
MAI is confident that European countries from France to Croatia, Bulgaria to Greece and beyond, will be infused with life-changing books and articles as new ideas are translated into action.
Note: András Visky's play, Disciples, will be staged in the Chicago suburbs this August. For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Russian Author Pens Bible Adventures for Boys
After Russian journalist Olga Klyuklina became a Christian in 2000, she began penning stories based on the Old Testament to help readers discover the adventure of walking with God. Today she's busy contributing to a boys' fiction series called “Battles of the Bible” (Triad Publishing). These illustrated mini-novels are based on the lives of biblical heroes like Joseph, Gideon and Mordechai.
Olga became a Christian as she struggled to raise her teenage son. Now she aims to reach other 7-13 year old boys through her stories. “All kids believe in miracles, something more than they can see,” she says. “We're trying to show what a real miracle is and who the real miracle-maker is.”
In Joseph, Olga depicts the adventures of Joseph through the eyes of a spy, a fictional character sent to learn about Egypt 's rulers before his country invades. The book appeals to both Christians and non-believers in Russia.
Publisher Anna Shirochenskaya says, “Ever since she came to God, Olga's heart has been set on getting the Christian message to the average person shopping in the general bookstore.”
How To Write Missionary Letters
NEW Expanded Edition
Order now to receive free shipping and a 40% discount on quantity orders of the new edition of How To Write Missionary Letters, which features an added section on electronic communication.
“All missionaries have to figure out a way to connect their story with their supporters. This book helps them paint a clear picture of ‘Who I am’ and ‘Why I’m here.’ and if that is done well, it can make all the difference in the world.
–David G. Rathbun, vice president, personnel development, Avant Ministries
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–Ralph Sauers, media administrator, SIM USA.
“This is a classic. Things have changed drastically in communications but the basic guidelines of communicating with supporters are still critical.”
– Lane Powell, publications editor, Operation Mobilization
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Women's Magazines Speak to Human Need
by Estera Wieja
In many countries of the former Soviet Union, women's magazines play pivotal roles in spreading the Gospel and deepening believers' faith.
Larysa Zhybryk was among five women's magazine editors at the MAI Europe Publishing Forum. “Our magazine is called Hope for You , something many Belarussians believe they do not have,” she says. The people struggle with alcoholism, and the young people are unmotivated. The magazine seeks to encourage women with true stories of personal victories. Encouraged by others at MAI's Forum, Larysa is eager to begin publishing books for non-Christian women.
Elizabeth and Ausrine discuss Tapati magazine at the MAI Forum
Three years ago Ausrine Seckuviene and her husband, Jurgis, launched Tapati magazine in Lithuania, aiming to engage spiritually-seeking women. Since only 5 to 10 percent of the nation's women attend church regularly, articles reflect a Christian worldview with an approach that attracts non-believers. Topics include: Stress Relievers for Body and Soul, Nurturing an Aging Parent, Working with Crabby Cohorts, and more.
Ausrine and other European women's magazine editors were inspired by Elizabeth and Ditmar Mittelstaedt, publishers of Lydia magazine in Germany. Much to her surprise, Elizabeth's first articles on lessons from personal suffering touched women's hearts beyond the church.
Reaching outside the church is not an insurmountable leap, Ditmar testifies. “The human need is basically a general need; everybody has needs and that's what touches people's lives.”
Estera Wieja is assistant editor of Nasze Inspiracje (Our Inspirations), a Christian magazine in Poland.
Year of Firsts
by John Maust
This was a year of “firsts” for MAI:
--Our first LITT-WORLD conference in South America
--Our first training focused entirely on publishing Christian content for the general market
--Our first on-site workshops in Pakistan and Bahrain
All told, 620 publishers, editors and writers from 56 countries participated in MAI training workshops in the last fiscal year. Plus, 64 trainers, mostly volunteers, from 20 countries led our 16 on-site workshops and conference.
Those are big numbers for a small organization with four full-time staff and an annual budget of $300,000. With God's help, MAI ministry has resulted in more locally authored Christian books and articles for readers in hard places of the world. We thank Him, and we also thank you, our partners. Your support makes all the difference.
“MAI gatherings should be cherished,” Croatian publisher Bruna Teresak said after our recent Europe Publishing Forum. “If MAI were suddenly to vanish from the face of the earth, it would leave a huge gap, and I guess a tremendous number of people involved in Christian publishing around the world would feel disconnected, and even a bit lost.”
As the MAI staff develop a full training schedule for the coming months, we pray to stay focused on the most important “first”—seeking first God's kingdom and His righteousness.