A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart's writings have appeared in Precious Times, Romantic Times Magazines, Spirit Led Woman and on The Master's Artist Blog. Her work focuses on fiction, popular culture, media and their relationship to people who live according to a Christian worldview. Dee Stewart is the owner of DeeGospel PR, a Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA where she lives. Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 5 years old in July at http://christianfiction.blogspot.com, keep up with her current projects at http://www.deestewart.com, talk to in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.
Three Missions To Write
He Is Alive!
I am grateful to be sharing this month’s column with you during the Easter season, because Christ has risen and He is alive. To celebrate this momentous good news, we are spotlighting three storytellers who share how their works aren’t just great reads but evangelizing tools to share the gospel with the world.
Lea Ann McCombs is our CFOM Holiday Short Fiction Winner (Screwback Hill). She has written for Campus Life and various magazines before becoming a novelist.
When did you discover that God wanted you to be a writer?
I have always loved to write, and I majored in English. I wrote mostly nonfiction magazine articles during college and after but stopped writing for about twenty years while raising four kids. I didn’t write for publication often, but every now and then, God put something on my heart, so I whipped it out, and it usually sold right away.
Have you found an agent or signed a contract yet?
Yes, I am represented by Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary Group, but I have not sold my novel yet.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
Staying the course is the hardest thing to do when there is so much rejection everywhere you turn. But if you’re called to write, then you will write whether anyone is buying it or not. If you hone your craft and work for the Lord’s glory, then it is up to Him how He wants to use it.
Sherri Lewis is an Essence Magazine and Black Expressions BookClub Best-selling author, physician, and missionary. She has written four books for Kensington Publishing. Her latest novel, Selling My Soul, released March 2010.
Why did you choose the theme of Christian missions?
It was quite by accident that I chose the theme of missionary work for the sequel, and it ended up being a peculiar case of life imitating art. In the prequel, My Soul Cries Out, the main protagonist’s best friend, Trina, leaves for a mission trip and is gone for the rest of the book. Many readers wanted to know what happened to her, so I decided to bring her back for this book.
Her reentry into American culture quickly became an important theme. I hadn’t done any major missions work prior to writing the book, and Trina’s experiences with reentry were solely based on stories from some missionary friends. After the book was written and on its way, doors opened up for me to experience missions. It was almost scary how much my experience was similar to Trina’s when I returned.
What would you like Christian readers to glean from the book?
The overwhelming theme is that we should trust God with everything, no matter how severe a situation looks. Another is that wounds from the past can hinder the ability to form healthy loving relationships and that those things have to be dealt with to move forward in life. There’s also a message about the power of God to heal the sick and how people in third world countries experience the miraculous on a regular basis as compared to much less often here in the U.S.
Are you a missionary, or do you work with missions?
I am now a full-time minister-missionary in addition to being an author. In May, I will graduate from the second year of the Bethel Atlanta School of Supernatural Ministry and have been granted permission to start a similar school in Cameroon, West Africa. I’ll also do two weeks of ministry meetings in Nigeria in July. I’m excited about the adventure I’m about to live!
To learn more about Dr. Sherri Lewis, visit her at http://www.sherrilewis.com.
Cathy Liggett is the debut author of Beaded Hope (Tyndale 2010).
Why did you choose the theme of Christian missions?
I didn’t choose the theme of Christian missions, quite honestly. It seemed to choose me. That happened back in September 2005, when Jennifer Davis crossed my path.
Besides writing, I work part-time registering patients at an outpatient testing center. The day that Jennifer came into the clinic and sat at my registration desk, I complimented her on the beautiful red beaded pin adorning the lapel of her jacket. As I was soon to learn, it was no ordinary pin. Just months earlier, Jennifer had started a nonprofit organization called Beaded Hope to help women in South Africa provide for their families by selling their beaded jewelry in the United States. The sparkling pin had been handcrafted by one of the artistic bead workers there.
I bought a piece of jewelry from Jennifer that day, but actually never expected to see her again. Looking back, however, I’m thinking God had a different plan. Each time Jennifer came back to the clinic for future check-ups, no matter the day or time, she’d be sent to my desk. Recognizing that this seemed more than mere coincidence, we decided to meet for tea.
The tea grew cold in our cups as Jennifer shared her photos and journal stories from her earlier trips to South Africa. Though the faces in the photo album were completely foreign to me, I felt touched and pressed to write about these strangers.
I started out writing a romance partly based in South Africa but quickly realized the story needed to be more than that. It needed to be about women—both South African and American women like those in Jennifer’s photos. Even more, it needed to be about women bonding with one another through their struggles, dreams, hopes, and faith.
I felt confident my idea for the book was a winner, so I was terribly disappointed when I couldn’t seem to find any interest for it. After I’d received a number of rejections, Jennifer called me, quite out-of-the-blue, and invited my husband and me to go along with her on her next trip to Mamelodi, South Africa.
Jennifer knew in meeting the ladies of South Africa, and witnessing their spirit and joy, I’d be able to tell my fictional story with more depth, passion, and love. She was absolutely right.
Do you work in missions work?
I’ve not been to another country on a mission trip since our visit to South Africa in 2008. I’d love to go, though, to the Dominican where our church does much work.
What do you want Christian readers to glean from the book?
Women halfway around the world, living in the most deplorable conditions, still have the same desires at heart that I do—to have happy, well-fed children who know God and are hopeful with dreams for their futures.
When you’ve been sent some place to minister to others, don’t be surprised when you are the one who is ministered to.
God’s timing really is worth waiting for!
No matter how little our knowledge, no matter how imperfect our hearts, God continues to pursue us to join Him in His work, just because He loves us so.
Twenty percent of Beaded Hope proceeds from the sale of this book will go to support Beaded Hope. To see some of the lovely beadwork from the ladies of South Africa, please visit www.beadedhope.com.