Carole Whang Schutter
Bonnie Hopkins

Bonnie Hopkins' debut novel, Seasons, was released October 2005. It has made several best-seller lists and has blessed countless readers—many of whom admit to reading the book over and over. She expects no less from her most recent release, Now and Then, Again (March 2009). Writing is Bonnie’s second career. (Testimony that God always has other plans and purposes for our lives). No one is more surprised than she that God has called her into a writing ministry. But she does know why, and her writing poignantly reflects that. She writes from a foundation of Christian principles from the Word of God, life experiences, and observations. Her stories center around relative life issues readers can easily identify with, and they ring with the fundamental message that when a chapter closes in our lives, we can trust God for a new beginning because in Him there is always a hope and a future. In addition to writing, Bonnie mentors writers and others who want to pursue their God-given gifts. Visit her at

Multicultural Christian Fiction

I’ve always loved reading Christian fiction. How well I remember the time when no multicultural category existed. But now! What a blessing it is to have choices from an abundance of Christian fiction authors. When I am reading for enjoyment and entertainment, it’s wonderful to experience the pleasure of reading Christian-based stories that deliver romance, mystery, drama, comedy, and suspense. They lift my spirit and encourage me by demonstrating how God’s presence makes a difference in dealing with issues that are common to humans from all cultural backgrounds.

On my job as a Community Relations Consultant for a large metropolitan police department, I organized and conducted cultural sensitivity workshops in an effort to establish and enhance positive communication and relationships between police officers and the culturally diverse community, as well as between different segments within the community (schools, religious organizations, workplaces, etc.).

In one interactive exercise, participants from different races and cultural backgrounds were instructed to select an orange from a large assortment of oranges. After discussion about the varieties of oranges, including places of origin, harvesting and distribution methods, and so on, the participants were instructed to peel the orange and taste it. The primary conclusions gathered from this exercise included the difficulty to identify one similarly shaped orange from another after they are peeled; the taste of an orange—whatever the origin—could be sweet, sour, juicy, dry, pulpy, no pulp; the variety of skins—thin-skinned, thick-skinned, hard to peel, easy to peel; and regardless of the origin, the only way to get to know the true essence of any orange is to peel and taste it.

Another exercise involved pairing two people of different cultures or ethnic background. They were asked to introduce themselves and identify their ethnicity and country of origin. They were then instructed to name at least three positive characteristics about the other person’s background or culture. The allotted time was three minutes; however, the room was frequently almost silent and full of sweating, uncomfortable people after about one minute as they dealt with the fact that the little (if any) knowledge they had of the other’s ethnicity or culture was negative.

These and similar exercises are effective in exposing how little we know about different cultures different from our own. They also emphasize our need to learn from the differences and then be able to celebrate and benefit from them.

Jesus commands in Matthew 22:37–39: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (NIV).

This Scripture passage raises some questions each of us must answer in our own hearts: Do we love God, ourselves, our neighbor? Who is our neighbor? Is it only the person who looks like us, thinks and acts like us, and comes from our country or cultural background?

Consider this familiar excerpt from a passage in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice: “Hath not [all humans] eyes? Hath not [all humans] hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?”

This familiar passage aptly conveys that we are all made in the image of God and experience common circumstances on the journey from birth to death. While humans too often make judgments based solely on outward appearances, God’s all-seeing eyes pierce the outer shell to focus on what lies underneath . . . in the heart. So, where am I taking you as it relates to multicultural Christian fiction?

Admittedly, as book selections go, most readers have favorites; however, many books that are arbitrarily passed over simply because the face on the cover shows a different ethnicity could be exactly what someone needs to read to obtain grace for the journey, strength in weakness, enlightenment in a dark circumstance, or increased understanding and awareness about different cultures.

These stories poignantly illustrate relational difficulties, vividly describe uphill struggles to forgiveness, and skillfully inspire patience and endurance when someone is ready to give up. God often uses these storylines, characters, plots, and scenes to deliver the assurance of His love and peace to a weary soul, as well as to bless, deliver joy, and/or build faith in a person.

Some books remind us of His saving grace and mercy by showing the way to redemption. They are written from hearts and souls that are flavored by different cultural experiences, but they deliver powerful, timely, and hope-filled messages from the Lord. They remind us that Christians are imperfect people who make mistakes but can always run back to a loving God who will never leave or forsake us.

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, reach out in Godly love, and peel (get to know) people, books, etc., from different cultures. Yes, we may encounter some that are dry or bitter to our personal taste buds. But there is a great possibility that we’ll run across others that are sweet, juicy, and have just the right essence!

Now And Then, Again