Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MAI “Ambassador to Cameroon”

By John Maust

“Do it lively! Put some life!” Who could say, no, to Dr. Magdalene Awa of Cameroon, leading a chorus at LittWorld 2006 in Brazil. Even the most traditional (stuffy?) among us began bouncing and turning to the African rhythm. (See this at )

Dr. Awa is one of the most unique, not to mention gifted (and exuberant), people I’ve met at LittWorld. The married mother of 6 earned master’s and doctoral degrees in History. She is a published expert on African family and gender issues, and helped start a female Christian publisher and writers group.

Several years ago, Dr. Awa urged us to hold the coming LittWorld in Africa, and she welcomed MAI to her country any time—dubbing herself our “ambassador to Cameroon.”

Dr. Awa and her husband have spent recent months in the U.S. visiting family and getting medical care. Earlier this week she called, wanting the latest news from MAI and LittWorld. She may not attend LittWorld in Nairobi, due to health and other issues. But her heart and prayers will be with us. When we sing and worship at LittWorld, let’s “do it lively” in Dr. Awa’s honor.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Power of the Written Word

By John Maust

Earlier this week we received an unexpected LittWorld scholarship gift from our friend Mary. "I soooo wanted to attend LittWorld," she said, "but it has not worked out to my great disappointment. God has blessed us with some extra this month, so at least I can help someone else get there."

Mary's gift encouraged us, and so did her reminder about the power of the written word. "I recently nonchalantly gave a retired pastor friend of mine a wonderful reflective book by Joan Chittister, The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully," Mary wrote. "He later told me that it literally changed his life.

"He was in a depression about retirement, and God used Chittister's words to challenge and redirect him. That author will never know about this one pastor who was touched by her writing, years after her book's publication. So, don't get discouraged or grow weary...because you never how God will use even one author's words in his/her town, village or country."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Building Trust, and the People You'll Meet at LittWorld

By John Maust

“I don’t believe a word you’re saying.” Ever heard someone say that? Maybe an angry father to his child, a teacher to a misbehaving student, or sweethearts in a quarrel.

But what if you’re an author or publisher, and one of your readers says it? Nothing undermines publishing impact like a lack of credibility.

I’ve been thinking about this since a recent visit to Cambodia and Fount of Wisdom Publishing House. During a lunch meeting, director Steve Westergren asked his staff, “What is your dream for the publishing house? “

Three of the six said simply, “We want to gain people’s trust.” It was a praiseworthy goal, but a little surprising—given they could have said something like, “Sell a million books,” or “Win hundreds of converts to Christ.”

Afterward, I asked Steve about this. Raised in Cambodia to missionary parents who had to leave during the years of war, Steve said political lies and brutality dating to the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime created a popular attitude of distrust.

So, it’s no surprise Cambodian readers may not necessarily believe everything in print, Steve said. Fount of Wisdom is working to overcome this mentality by publishing quality Christian books that build trust with readers through a message of Truth and hope.

Steve hopes to take a couple of his staff to Nairobi. What’s so fascinating about LittWorld is the opportunity to visit with people like Steve and his team, Christian publishing pioneers who face more difficult challenges than many of us know.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Kindred Soul at LittWorld

By Marlene Legaspi-Munar
used by permission, originally posted on the author's blog

One of the pleasant surprises of participating in international gatherings is finding someone who can also speak your language. The following day after I prayed during the opening session [of LittWorld 2006] in my native Tagalog, I heard a feminine voice greet me from behind. There were only two of us from the Philippines attending this LittWorld, the other one being Mr. Ramon Rocha of OMF Literature. Who then could she be?

I turned around to see a lady beaming, obviously in a merry mood, and seeing and hearing her made me want to hug her. What a delight to find a kindred soul in a foreign land! It turns out that Ms. Miriam Adeney is a board member of Media Associates International and is an anthropologist, author, professor, editor, and mentor of Christian writers. She spent some years in the Philippines as a missionary and that's how she learned how to speak Tagalog.

For the next days, we occasionaly shared meals together and discussed issues in the Philippines like the diaspora of millions of Filipinos working overseas (which we have popularly called OFWs--Overseas Filipino Workers) and its economic and social impact to our society. Attending LittWorld and engaging in conversations with people who have much to share has stimulated me into thinking how I can contribute to my society through writing. This is one of the blessings of attending LittWorld.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coming to the party?

By John D. Maust

Holding LittWorld is a bit like sending invitations to a big party, and then wondering how many people will come. We've been planning for 150 men and women from 40 countries, and I'm praying and trusting we'll hit that number. But one never knows for sure, especially since some people wait to confirm until the proverbial last minute. This can be a little unnerving.

I wish you could see the steady inflow of emails from publishers, editors and writers interested in the conference. One person said she prayed and fasted for a week for the funds to travel to Nairobi. A psychologist who attended MAI's writer workshop in Singapore last week just wrote to say, "I'm coming to Nairobi." A journalist chronicling human-rights abuses in Zimbabwe is trying to arrange travel documents to come.

The program for LittWorld 2009 shapes up as one of the strongest yet. So, I hope plenty of publishing professionals take advantage by coming to the "party." Just waiting for you to say, like my friend in Singapore, "I'll see you in Nairobi!"

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