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Words for the World

Cup of Water for a Writer

- 09/01/08   Cup of Water for a Writer

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Words for the World | MAI

September-December 2008 


< More Books for French-speaking Africa
< New Faces at MAI
< Peruvian Doctor Triumphs over Pain
<  LittWorld 2009 Treks to Africa
<  Cup of Water for a Writer


Hi, !

When MAI was founded in 1985, African writers and publishers were first to ramp up their skills through our training. Since then African publishers have succeeded in creating thousands of needed books and magazines to nurture the church and reach non-believers.

In this issue, read about MAI's most recent workshop in French-speaking Africa and the debut of LittWorld 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya. Oh, and don't forget to join us below for a dip in the pool with an Olympic winner from Peru!

Dawn Herzog Jewell, Editor

More Books for French-speaking Africa Emerge from Mali Workshop

Photo by
Gregory Burgess

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. I believe our writings, small as they may be, can set a great fire on our continent,” wrote Prosper Atchombat of Cameroon. She and 49 other writers and booksellers traveled to Mali for MAI’s workshops this May. There they honed skills in marketing and
writing from trainers Tony Collins and Lawrence Darmani, respectively.

Tony Collins shares his reflections here:

Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa of 12 million
people, of whom 1.6 million are crammed into the seething,
messy complexity of the capital, Bamako. It may be poor, but it is also a cheerful, friendly place. Every road is lined with small booths selling mangoes, car tires, ceramic toilets, etc. Roads are filled with crammed buses and taxis interspersed with ubiquitous motorcycles, sometimes carrying two parents and two children.

Centre de Publications Evangéliques (CPE), French-speaking Africa’s largest Christian publisher, hosted the event in a Catholic conference center on the banks of the vast River Niger. The 30 writers and 20 booksellers had come from nine different countries, many traveling for two or three days.

They were an impressive bunch, intelligent and motivated, survivors in one of the toughest markets in the world where just to obtain books can mean a wait of weeks, and political and
social instability can mean being burned out of your shop.

A network linking French-speaking African booksellers and
authors emerged from MAI's workshop in Mali. With articles produced in the workshop, CPE plans to publish several booklets for African youth. More locally-authored books in French-speaking Africa will help the church mature and spread the Gospel.

New Faces at MAI

MAI welcomes three new Board members. Howard Costley is a retired investment banker from suburban Chicago. Jon Hirst directs communications for HCJB Global missions agency in
Colorado and is founder of Generous Mind think tank. Tony Wales, an MAI Trainer, recently retired as international
rights manager of Lion Hudson plc in England.

Peruvian Doctor Triumphs over Pain

MAI recently awarded Dr. Aníbal Del Aguila a grant from the David Alexander International Author Fund to help him complete two manuscripts. His testimony, The Value of Life, recounts his journey since a tragic bus accident left him initially paralyzed from the neck down a decade ago.

Swimming lessons were key to Dr. Del Aguila’s initial rehab treatment, which he describes in this excerpt:

“At the beginning, the hardest part for me was overcoming the fear of being left alone in the water; even though the water was shallow, I was afraid of drowning. I became even more afraid when I learned the physical therapist who was helping me stay afloat didn't know how to swim either! Fortunately, I soon got a new therapist. Due to my spinal injury, I had lost the ability to expand my chest cavity, so I was unable to breathe deeply. It was hard for me to remain calm when I felt short of breath. Little by little, I learned to control my breathing and stay afloat, and to remain calm when I was alone in the water.”

He later competed in Peru’s first Special Olympics in 2002, winning four medals—three silver and one bronze.

In a second manuscript, The Bible and Medicine, Dr. Del Aguila advocates holistic patient care and encourages doctors and nurses to consider a biblical concept of humans made in the image of God.

Because no local hospitals will hire a doctor with his physical disability, Dr. Del Aguila treats private patients and contributes to a medical magazine. But finding sufficient work to pay for his physical therapy and medications is a constant concern.

“Thank you for your prayers; we need them,” he wrote MAI. “I’ve been experiencing increased pain…I want to thank you again, wishing you the Lord’s richest blessings.”

Dr. Del Aguila participated in MAI’s writer workshop in Peru last year. Ediciones Puma in Lima plans to publish both of his books.

LittWorld 2009 
Treks to Africa

Mark your calendars for LittWorld’s Africa debut November 1 to 6, 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya.

“Welcome to Nairobi, ‘The City in the Sun’,” says Barine Karimi of Evangel Publishing House, and chair of the local LittWorld committee. “Come and enjoy the hospitality of the people, the beautiful weather, and the great learning and networking opportunity that LittWorld 2009 presents. We look forward to hosting you!”

LittWorld is a unique international publishing conference, offering training, networking and vision-casting opportunities for Christian publishing staff around the globe. Some 180 participants from 40 countries are expected.

Register online starting this October at


Cup of Water for a Writer

August brings back 30-year-old memories of high-school summer football practice, a sweaty regimen under the broiling sun. One year a coach tried to toughen us by minimizing our water breaks. Needless to say, the experiment failed.

Instead of getting tougher, boys mostly gasped or got cramps. After practice, instead of eating, we drank and drank and drank. I was already little and skinny, so a couple of weeks in this routine left me looking like a shriveled grape in shoulder pads.

Fortunately, common sense returned to the playing field. The coaches saw it’s hard to be tough when you’re dehydrated.

Likewise, Christian writers in some countries strive to write productively amidst hardship, poverty and conflict. The daily battle to survive saps even the strongest writer’s focus and creative energies. (One African writer’s city was recently without electric power and running water for two weeks.) If we ignore these writers, they will not become “tougher,” but only more exhausted if not discouraged. How can we help?

One way is to give a scholarship to an
international Christian writer to attend next year’s LittWorld 2009 conference in Africa.
The training and encouragement provided at LittWorld can make all the difference in whether an emerging author quits or perseveres. MAI also provides limited aid to writers through
the David Alexander International Author Fund.

“This grant is a response from the Lord…,” a Latin American scholarship recipient wrote. “It will allow me to devote myself more fully to my writing and relieve me from being so anxious about finances.”

Give a cup (or a gallon!) of cold water to a thirsty
writer by providing a scholarship to a deserving
Christian writer.

Give a scholarship online.

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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