Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day One Has Come

Today is Day One of LittWorld 2009. The last of the 150 or so participants are gathering from around the world on the green slopes of Brackenhurst Conference Centre outside Nairobi, Kenya. A few people hit the inevitable travel "snags"--some of them more problematic than others. So, please pray everyone makes it as planned.

At this breakfast hour, rain is falling. An Indonesian editor named Wendy just told me it rained the entire week before her wedding in Jakarta, so she prayed for sun on the day of the ceremony. Sun emblazoned her wedding day and garden-party reception. So, I asked her to pray for similar "results" here in Kenya!

I wish you could hear some of the fascinating conversations going on between Christian wordsmiths and publishers from around the world.

Friday, October 23, 2009

An Open Door

By Lawrence Darmani

An African proverb says the future belongs to those who prepare for it. And I say LittWorld constitutes an open door for those who look for a door through which to enter. I attended one LittWorld looking for one such door.

When I met Mr. Tony Wales in a consultation session, he listened as I rambled about this novel I had written and how I believed it had something meaty in it and how I wondered if a publishing house in Oxford, England, would want to have a look at it? Did they publish works of fiction containing events from a remote African village that might have a wider appeal? How about if the novel, though Christian in storyline, could comfortably be read by nonChristians in the marketplace?

Till this day I’ve wondered why Tony Wales smiled when I concluded my rather feeble discussion on a novel that was set in an African village, but that smile pumped confidence and courage in me. Yet, all he said was, “Let me have a look at it.” He made no promises except that he would carry the manuscript to England, have it evaluated, and get back to me on the matter—which he did.

All that is history now. The manuscript landed on the table of Pat Alexander, co-founder of Lion Publishing (now Lion Hudson Plc) and a passionate editor. The correspondence in my files attests to a memorable LittWorld-style working relationship through writing and re-writing that finally produced the novel, Grief Child. Going on to win the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Africa and now selected as a Ghanaian textbook in English Literature along with Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, the novel has accounted for itself, I believe.

Hundreds of such open-door stories abound with LittWorld attendees over the years. Every LittWorld, I repeat, is an open door, and open doors are for those who look out for them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hearing the Call

By Lawrence Darmani, Ghana

It was at the 2004 LittWorld in Manila, the Philippines, and the workshop I attended was almost over. The resource person was about to wrap up the lively discussion, but I felt that something was amiss—like the uncertain moments before a downpour. That feeling emanated from this habit of mine that lures me to watch people at meetings from the corners of my eyes to see if their faces communicated anything. And I did see one forlorn face.

She had been mostly quiet during the session, but then she brightened up a little toward the end. Just before we broke, her hand shot up. We all sat back to listen.

“This is my first time here [at LittWorld] and I didn’t want to come in the first place because I had been in transition and didn’t know in what direction my life should go—but now I know!” She wiped her drenched eyes. I was amazed as I watched her pour out her heart to all of us strangers.

Coming from France, and having recently felt compelled to resign from a lucrative job, she sought to find out what God would have her do thenceforth. She clung to God’s promise that He had a plan for her life, to give her a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). “All through this workshop I listened for God’s answer to the yearning in my heart,” she said, “and heard him loud and clear!” Then she delivered emphatically, “God is calling me into the literature ministry—I’m now convinced about it.”

I could tell from the brightness of her countenance that she had come to this realization like someone who had battled with the calling and finally responded positively.

In an environment like LittWorld the voice of the Lord gets clearer, calling men and women, confirming in their hearts and placing in their hands the tool for effective ministry—the printed word. In the coming few days at Littworld at the Brackenhurst Conference Centre, I believe the Lord will repeat His call to prepared hearts.

Photo: Lawrence Darmani (right) with Pearl Griffith (at his left) and other Caribbean participants at LittWorld 2006 in Brazil

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Family ties

"Please extend warmest Christian greetings from the Caribbean, and especially from me and from all the writers in this region," wrote author Pearl D. Griffith of Trinidad, who is unable to attend this year's LittWorld. "I cherish deeply every memory of the time shared with people from around the world, with their rich heritage of mixtures, textures and cultures, all celebrating The Written Word."

Over the years, a kind of Littworld "family" has evolved--men and women bonded by their shared experience at LittWorld and on a deeper level by the ministry of the written word. Pearl belongs to this "family," and we will miss her at LittWorld 2009.

If you, like Pearl, cannot attend LittWorld 2009 but would like to send greetings to the LittWorld family gathered in Nairobi, please use this blog or send me an email, We'll see that your greetings are shared with the group.

Man of Letters

When it comes to LittWorld, Barine Kirimi is our "man of letters." He writes the invitation letters for conference participants applying for Kenyan visas. (He is far more "important" than the immigration person described in a previous posting!)

Writing invitation letters is just one of Barine's many invaluable tasks as Chair of the Kenya Host Committee. He has led the committee's work, helped find local sponsors, looked into "freebies" for the welcome bag, and made arrangements with videographers, translators and local worship teams, among (many) other things.

Today he drove to Brackenhurst Conference Centre to go over last arrangements with the staff there. Barine does all this while directing the work of Evangel Publishing House in Nairobi. When you see Barine at LittWorld, be sure to thank this gracious "man of letters."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

....And Counting

Lately we're getting questions about numbers. How many speakers will you have at LittWorld? a friend asked today. "At least 43," I said. How many publishing houses will be there? I hadn't counted yet, but more than 20 came immediately to mind, and I know there'll be more. What about French-speakers? someone e-mailed today. I thought of at least a dozen offhand.

Then, the most frequent question: How many people have registered so far? It looks like about 140. The numbers vary from day to day, as new people register and a few others drop out for health and other reasons.

Frankly, we've been so busy with preparations that we haven't stopped yet to do all the counting. That will come later. We just pray that every single person the Lord wants in Nairobi for LittWorld will in fact be there.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Most Powerful Person in the World? You Might Be Surprised

Who is the most powerful person in the world? A frequent-traveler friend asserts, "It's the person in passport control at the airport." You know the feeling. You've handed over your passport, and the frowning official slowly flips through the pages. Seconds drag like hours. The official holds a rubber stamp, which eventually circles above the page. Circling, and still circling. Finally, the stamp thuds onto the page. There is no better sound to the international traveler.

Around 150 Christian publishers, editors and writers from 30 countries will attend LittWorld in Kenya. Many will fly into Nairobi. We aren't expecting any visa problems. Yet please pray the "most powerful people in the world" in airport passport control will also be the friendliest people in the world, and that anyone needing a tourist visa will get one.