Sunday, January 31, 2010
After last week, I think we all
want to send up an extra
"Thank you, God,"
for the pastors and pastor's wives in our lives.
What a blessing they are!
Join us this week
for more fun as we talk about love!
Putting an Ink on Scripture
Monday - Friday
What's Love Got to Do With It?
Monday - Lisa shares about brotherly (philo) love
Tuesday - D'Ann looks at parental (storge) love
Wednesday - Dina tackles sexual (eros) love
Thursday - Niki delves into selfless (agape) love
Friday - Gina examines the need to be loved vs. giving love
An Inkalicious Review
See you all around the Inkwell!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
While a traditional romance in structure, this book breaks out of the mold by introducing us to a hero and heroine who are married, but have been separated for many years, allowing Jen to take a hard look at the nature of love and romance from a Godly perspective. The book was not all about tingles and emotions, although the attraction was apparent. Instead, the primary plot was about forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. Add to that the complex roles and expectations placed upon a pastor and his spouse, and this novel stands out from the pack as unique.
Maura Sullivan arrives in Granger, Ohio with the intention to claim her inheritance and quickly high-tail it out of town, hopefully before running into her estranged husband, Nick Shepherd. But fate, or perhaps God in the form of an eccentric old lady, has other plans. Maura finds her husband headed to the same meeting and discovers their departed friend, Miss Hattie, has carefully devised her will to force them into one last chance at love. While Maura still has the option to run away, she finds the offer to good to refuse. She had hoped the inheritance would give her a new start at life, and decides to give Nick one last chance. She can handle a few months with her husband for the reward dangled before her.
Nick longs to reconcile, but Maura has hardened her defenses against him. She was too hurt by him and his church members last time around. Besides, she has a secret she knows they can never overcome. In her mind, saving their marriage is not an option. She will live with him only for the specified time, and then move into her own apartment over the theatre.
Maura faces many challenges reacquainting herself with the town, renovating her rundown theatre, and being forced to deal with her husband and his congregation once again. This book kept me turning pages right until the emotional ending.
I was captivated to discover that Maura’s inheritance was in fact an old theatre. I loved watching the transformation of the quaint building, as well as the inclusion of drama and the theatre world in this story. The theatre also served to demonstrate how each of us must serve God in our own unique roles and gifts. Maura may have failed as a pastor’s wife the first time around, but once released into her own calling, she was able to view the situation from a different perspective. I enjoyed the way Jen depicted this second time around at love. Maura and Nick did not fall into the same traps. This time they faced the situation with a new level of wisdom and maturity that all of us need when dealing with the complicated subject of romance.
This book is not only an enjoyable read, it is an important book as well. Each of us should take time to ponder the roles of our pastor’s and their spouses. We should give a moment to consider how we can better understand and support them. I applaud Jen for shedding light on this significant subject.
I usually don’t say I’m “proud” of people since the Bible doesn’t advocate pride. But, I’m so very pleased and excited about this book by our very own, Jennifer Al Lee. More than that, I’m pleased and excited to be a part of this venture with such amazing and talented Inky sister. Let’s all join together and support Jen with her new relase. You can order your own copy of The Pastor’s Wife at the links below. Maybe pick up a few extra copies as gifts :)
Click Here to visit Jen's website
Click Here to order The Pastor's Wife on Amazon.com
Click Here to order The Pastor's Wife on Christianbook.com
As a child, Jennifer AlLee lived above a mortuary in the heart of Hollywood, California, which may explain her unique outlook on life. Her publishing credits include a contemporary romance novel, The Love of His Brother (November 2007) as well as skits, activity pages, and over one hundred contributions to the popular My Devotions series. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and serves as the Nevada Area Coordinator. Jennifer resides in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas with her husband and teenage son.
We love you Jen! God bless you as you continue to serve him through your writing.
Please leave questions and comments for Jen today. Do you have any thoughts on the role of a pastor's wife. What is your calling? Are you functioning in your calling or stuck in a role that doesn't fit?
Friday, January 29, 2010
I bring to him the charred remains
I must die to truly live.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Hi, all. Jen AlLee, here!
I can't begin to tell you how mind-spinning this week has been. Not only is my "baby" coming out in just a few days, I've been inundated with love and support. You all rock!
A lot of people wonder how the publishing process works. How do you go from an idea in your head to a book on the shelf? So I thought it might be cool to take a quick look at one book's loooong journey... This is how The Pastor's Wife came to be.
As you probably know by now, I'm a former church secretary. I took my own experiences with church administration and friendships with pastoral families and started asking those "what if" questions. What if a young bride couldn't handle the pressure of living under a microscope? What if her husband, in his enthusiasm to do well at his first pastorate, didn't see the toll it was taking on his wife? What if their marriage fell apart? That gave me the basic plot and I went from there.
I started writing The Preacher's Wife Returns (that's the original title... sounds like a B-movie, doesn't it?) late in 2005. In April of 2007 I joined American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) with the idea of pitching my now-completed novel at the conference. It was the perfect plan: I wrote The Pastor's Wife (aren't you glad I changed the title?) with a specific publisher in mind, and an editor from that house would be at the conference. Surely a face-to-face meeting with her would garner a request to read the manuscript.
Fast forward to summer of 2008. I was still writing and had finished a good chunk of a sequel to TPW. But I still had no idea how to move forward. One day, I read a blog post by Camy Tang about a new fiction line spear-headed by highly respected editor Barbara Scott. It referred to another post on Brandilyn Collins' Forensics & Faith blog in which Barbara talked about Abingdon Press and their bold new venture into Christian fiction. At the end of the post, Barbara invited readers of the blog to submit their completed manuscripts to her for consideration. (That, my friends, is how I got around not having an agent.)
You might think the story stops there, but it doesn't. I emailed Barbara with a query, but it wouldn't go through due to a spam blocker. So I went back to the blog and through the comments asked her what to do. She gave me another address, which worked. My query got to her. She wrote back and asked me to send a synopsis and first three chapters. I did, but I didn't hear back. I returned to the blog and read the comments again, wondering if Barbara had anything else to say. She mentioned that if anyone was having problems with contacting her via email, they should snail mail their query to her. A buzzer went off in my head and I thought, "You'd better mail your pages." So I did. About four days later I got an email from Barbara thanking me for mailing the chapters and synopsis because she had not gotten them in email, and her emails to me were bouncing. And then she asked for the full manuscript.
That was August '08. I signed my contract in October. And now, on February 1, 2010, the real live book will sit on actual bookshelves wherever fine books are sold. What a ride.
Have you experienced a time when something looked like a set-back but ended up being a blessing?
Balloon photo - Olga Glushkova/www.dreamstime.com
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Jennifer didn’t always adorn herself with the Lord and His word. Her favorite scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:17 ("Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new"), has led her past the “mess” of her old creature to her redeemed work-of-art through Christ’s sacrifice.
When Jennifer isn’t writing, she immerses herself in her family, husband Marcus and son Billy. Marcus and Jen “had an unusual courtship (Jen ignored him for about a year), so it’s something of a miracle that they got together at all.” Yet God prevailed to yoke these special people, who “know without a shadow of a doubt that God wanted them to be together. That knowledge anchors the relationship when they “hit bumps and rough patches (of which they've had their fair share)”. And then there's Billy, “who has grown into the most awesome young man you'd ever want to meet. My proudest achievement is raising him.”
I got my itchy paws on Jennifer’s second novel, The Pastor’s Wife, when we became critique partners after that ACFW bonding. This past weekend, I held in my hands the ARC provided by Abington. Oh, readers, you are in for a treat! Sigh. But you have to wait another week or so!
Though the women Jennifer met through her church work handled themselves “with amazing grace under pressure, what if identity loss and “taking on the mantle of pastor’s wife” would be too much for a woman?
From Page 1, of The Pastor's Wife, Jennifer enticed me with a sharp hook and kept me enthralled with concise yet emotional writing. Why should I be surprised? “First and foremost, I want to entertain my readers with relatable stories,” Jennifer says. “I want you to feel like you're reading about people who could live next door. I try to present the faith element in my books the same as I do in real life. To me, the best way to share your faith is to live it. That's what I do with my characters: let them live their faith (or lack thereof) through the course of the story and take the reader along for the ride.”
I praise God for gifting Jennifer with her writing talent and pray that through her stories, she will continue to grapple with sociocultural issues, such as women who must wear “mantles.” Jennifer, long may you write!!!
Oops! Forgot to mention that one poster's name will be drawn randomly and sent a signed copy of Jennifer's new book!!!!!!
Question: Do you feel smothered by the mantle of your husband’s role (or your own role?)
Question: Are you a preacher’s kid, preacher’s wife, preacher’s wife’s friend???
Monday, January 25, 2010
from Susanne Dietze
Challenge, love and Jesus. Being a pastor’s wife, like anything else in life, comes with an abundance of both struggle and grace, with the ever-present opportunity for God to be glorified through every situation.
I don’t know about the other Inkies who are married to pastors (there are a few of us!), but I never daydreamed about becoming a pastor’s wife. The role came with the guy, however, and he was pretty cute. He’d already been called into ministry when we got together, and it became clear that God had called us to marriage, too.
Though I know I’m where I’m supposed to be, I am absolutely not a perfect pastor’s wife. Whatever that is. All I know to do is to lean on Jesus when it comes to this role I’m in, because there’s no handbook to form our understanding of what comprises such a paragon. If a how-to book indeed existed for us, we’d probably find that our situations, personalities, and gifts are too variable for a one-size-fits-all manual, anyway. Still, I sometimes wish there were something for us gals, with chapters like "Hair-dos and -don'ts for Pleasing Your Flock," "Potluck Planning for Pennies" and "Expectations and You."
Ah, the expectations. That's a chapter I could've used a long time ago.
They vary by denomination, congregation, and individual parishioners, but spoken or unspoken, they’re placed on pastor’s wives all the same. Some expectations I’ve heard of include looking put-together (well…), remembering everyone’s name (I try, honest), and knowing the exact location of everything in the church kitchen (forget that one.). She should model Christ’s love to all, be at ease with her husband's busy schedule, and bear a natural smile. And let’s not forget that her kids should be well-behaved and happy.
What about some other expectations? Can a pastor’s wife say no to serving on a committee? Or buy socks from a higher-end retailer? Can she write romance novels? Or “hide away” nursing a baby on a Sunday morning, when she’s a public persona? You may laugh, but I’ve been called out on these things (and many more). I’ve been hurt, and then I’ve asked God to help me discern if I’m in error, and if I’m not, to help me toughen my skin (which is an essential skill if I’m going to keep writing romance novels).
Then there are the blessings. No how-to manual on clergy life could've prepared me for those amazing gifts, either.
Being married to a pastor has enabled me to be part of people’s lives in a special way, because this unique position comes with a sense of trust and spiritual intimacy attached to it. I love my church family, and I’ve been honored and humbled to be present in some of the most important moments in a person’s life. I’ve held hours-old newborns and prayed during surgeries. I’ve been blessed to share God’s love in opportunities I might not have had if my husband hadn’t held the title of “pastor.”
Remembrance of one rainy morning never fails to humble me. I was a new mother, and the elderly wife of a parishioner was hospitalized, rapidly succumbing to cancer. “Sally” (we’ll call her) did not attend church with “Bob.” On this day, however, Sally finally agreed to let my husband visit her. They talked a long time about God’s grace.
Then she wanted to hear about our baby. “Sally loves babies,” Bob explained. “It’s too bad she never came to church. She could’ve seen your little one then. She always said she wanted to.”
When my husband related this to me, I called Bob. And with his excited permission, I dressed the baby like it was Easter Sunday and drove to the hospital. Baby in arms, I met Bob in the hallway, and we went into the hospital room.
Sally did not have much life in her. She could hardly speak, but her eyes sparked when she saw us. After pleasantries, I asked if I could set the baby on the bed with her, and she nodded, moving her fingers to show me where.
I chatted about the baby, and then found myself saying, “It will be all right. God loves you, and Bob too.”
Tears filled her eyes, and I realized that she was worried about Bob. I promised that we’d be there to help him through this. And I was able to tell her more about God’s grace and mercy.
More family arrived, and it was time for us to go. Sally’s eyes followed us out.
Bob called hours later. Sally had passed on. Some might find it presumptuous that I’d haul a baby to the hospital to visit a dying woman I’d never met, especially on her last day on earth. In fact, it seems to be just the sort of thing that would wind up on the "don't do" list in a clergy wife how-to manual (send casserole and pray, yes. Take baby to hospital, no.). I can say with certainty, though, that I believe God wanted me and my baby there, and I feel honored and thankful that God used me and my unique position to say something that perhaps Sally needed to hear.
I am not a perfect pastor’s wife. But I serve a perfect Lord, who is always available for me to lean on. I’m thankful for His strength as I journey with my husband on the path God’s called us to walk.
Stay tuned all week as we celebrate our own Jennifer AlLee's The Pastor's Wife, available in February from your favorite local bookseller, Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and Cokesbury.com.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, my parents kept telling my brothers that boys and men don’t cry. They had to hide their emotions inside and present a stoic face to the world. That only sissies and babies cry.
The Man who had God’s knowledge of the future was so saddened by His friend’s death, He let His emotions spill out in the form of tears and wept.
And what about Solomon—the wisest and richest king who ever lived. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:4 A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. (NIV) Solomon doesn’t add … but only if you’re a woman or child.
Jacob wept in Genesis 29:11
Joseph wept in Gen 42:24 and in Gen 45:14
Ezra wept in Ezra 10:1
And that’s not even halfway through the Bible. These are all strong biblical heroes we want our sons to emulate. And they all wept in public. And the people mourned with them.
Weeping isn’t a form of weakness. It’s simply an outpouring of emotion.
Top - Crying Men, 2004 Sam -Taylor-Wood
Bottom - saviodsilva
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Who knew the Inkies were such an adventurous bunch?
As an uber-supportive group of writers,
we gals decided that whenever one
of us has a new book coming out, we'll give her
a week in the spotlight. So this week we give you
Jennifer AlLee, author of The Pastor's Wife
(coming February 1st from Abingdon Press).
for more fun!
Putting an Ink on Scripture
Monday - Friday
All about an Inky and her new book!
Monday - Susanne shares about the "perfect" pastor's wife
Tuesday - Patti has a turn
Wednesday - Special Guest - Abingdon Press Marketing Manager Maegan Roper
gives us the scoop on this exciting new fiction line
Thursday - Jennifer shares about the journey to The Pastor's Wife
Friday - Dina's original poem - Beauty for Ashes
An Inkalicious Review
Dina's back with a review of...
you guessed it... The Pastor's Wife
See you all around the Inkwell!
Romantic Comedy is not an adequate enough term to describe this book. Ripe with humor without being slapstick silly, The Big 5-0h! is also a pure romance with a nice blend of emotion.
Olivia Wallace has spent her entire life living with the dark cloud of a birthday curse hanging over her head. Nearly every year, and most assuredly on a “big” birthday, something bad happens. So it’s no wonder she dreads her upcoming birthday. But the fact that it’s the big 5-0 only makes it more fearsome. Since I’m (gulp!) facing that very same birthday, I’ll admit the title alone was enough to intrigue me.
When Olivia’s well meaning friend manages to coerce her into a house-sitting escapade disguised as a vacation in Florida, Olivia hopes the birthday curse won’t catch up with her.
And that's when the fun begins.
It doesn't help that the gorgeous doctor next door has an overly-flirtateous twenty-something son who is quite interested in Olivia, and a secretary determined to make her feel unwelcome. She likens Olivia to Splenda in sweet-tea. They just don't belong together.
Olivia's past battle with ovarian cancer is very realistically portrayed, as the author herself is a survivor of ovarian cancer, and currently someone very dear to all of us Inkies is facing the very same battle.
The romance in this book swept me up quite naturally. There were parts where I laughed out loud, and parts where my heartstrings were tugged good and tight.
Served up with a heaping dose of spiritual wisdom, this truly is an enjoyable, satisfying read, and each chapter begins with an excerpt from one of the sweetest, yet most profound, children's stories I've ever read.
Sandra D, Bricker’s books have always been enjoyable, and this one is no exception. I really rooted for this heroine. Great job, Sandie. You just keep getting better and better.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be giving away a copy of The Big 5-0h!, so please leave a comment along with your e-mail address so I can contact you tomorrow evening (Sunday, January 24th) if your name is drawn.
Visit Sandie’s website and blog at:
The Big 5-0h! is available in bookstores next week, but if you leave a comment with your e-mail address, I'll put you in a drawing for the copy I'm giving away. Barnes and Noble lists it as available on the 28th, while Amazon lists it as available for pre-order with no date.
And be sure to catch Sandie's next book, sure to be a hit as well, Always the Baker, Never the Bride, coming this fall.
**Visit my personal blog at http://suzieswritingplace.blogspot.com where I'm reviewing and giving away a copy of Margaret Brownley's inspirational historical romance: A Lady Like Sarah.
Photos courtesy of at http://www.sxc.hu; gator by: bugbru; dog by: winnielee; elderly man by: lhumble; and windstorm by: dimitri_c
Friday, January 22, 2010
When I was twenty-four I moved to South Africa where I lived for two intense, incredible years. Since then I've been back often enough and racked up enough cumulative months as a visitor there that even if I was an otherwise eligible donor, I would be refused by every blood collection agency in the western hemisphere. South Africa is part of our daily lives even though we live on the opposite edge of the globe.
We had the luxury of expendible income and time (something we didn't fully appreciate until we had kids!) and we enjoyed the benefits of South Africa's elite, white, privileged society that combined a generation or two of wide-spread family wealth and cheap domestic labour. In many respects, we were free.
As I shiver through another Canadian winter, only the photographs remind me that life was once that amazing.
And yet we left Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa in 1992 to live in a rural-Canadian exile we shared with four other young South African physicians and their wives. Together, we missed the climate, the domestic help, the vibrant culture, the amazing foods, and the beaches.
And together we recovered from the cumulative shock of fear, violence, crime, corruption and the pervasive grinding poverty among the vast majority of South Africans. We all had personal experiences with crime, and our husbands all had shared miliatry experiences and stories from the trenches of black hospitals. For the born-and-raised South Africans, they struggled with the need to revise the largely fictitious history they had been taught in white South African schools. They read for the first time books by banned writers such as Alan Paton (Cry Beloved Country) and Joseph Lelyveld (Move Your Shadow).
In addition to the above-listed chronic South African problems of poverty and crime, my husband and I lived in Natal (now called Kwa-Zulu Natal) at the epicentre of a low-grade war simmering between the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) led by former ANCer Mangosutho Buthelezi and the African National Congress (ANC) under the direction of Nelson Mandela.
Each week brought that war close.While the average white South African never set foot in a township and lived mostly untouched by the war, we were nevertheless aware of the bloodshed. I supervised black security and cleaning staff. Each week there would be a new crisis in their lives. Nelson, my cleaner, was late to work. As I started his reprimand he told me, head shaking and eyes sad, "It is very bad. Tsth, tsht, tsth." After much prompting I learned that his street had been overrun by armed ANC cadres the night before and he and his neighbours, IFP loyalists, were driven from their homes. He spent the rest of the night building a cardboard house in a nearby squatter camp and insisted I call the army. After two days of repeated calls to the local Komandant, I had arranged an armed escort for him and his neighbours to return to their homes to collect their possessions and livestock. The homes were lost to them, given to ANC loyalists.
Then, it was two security guards who missed a shift. When they returned to work, we learned they were rounded up by the ANC and given weapons and sent on a mission to clear another neighbourhood. They complied because to resist was futile.
The ANC organzied many marches that involved much singing and shouting. As their leaders set up their portable sound systems in front of City Hall, across the street from my office, each point was punctuated by a fist raised to the air and a shout of "Amandla," which means power. The crowd would echo the shout and gesture over and over again before the dancing would begin anew. One would think it was a party, not a protest, if not for the scattering of protesters hoisting a tire with each shout of "Amandla!"
A tire represents a form of tortuous execution used against ANC detractors. Set around a dissident's neck and set on fire, the "necklace" served as a punishment and a reminder. The sight of those tires reminded me to not pass judgement on staff for their political alliances or their involuntary after-hours activities.
With police and their militant german-shepherds stationed on the museum's portico guarding the front door, the security staff and I retreated to the upper floor to watch. There was no toi-toing. No singing. Just a long line of black faces somberly marching to City Hall. The parade was lined every four or five feet by a man carrying a tire. Police blockaded all the streets feeding to parade route and formed a line across the street, blocking the way to the front of City Hall. Young, clean-shaven white officers in blue uniforms, arms crossed, semi-automatic weapons at ready lined the route and manned blockades with dogs at their sides and yellow bakkies at their back. On the balcony in front of our windows and on the roof above us, snipers hunched, all in black. All it would take was one young officer to respond to the threats being thrown at him, one breach of discipline from a police-dog, one mishap in the crowd, and pandemonium would ensue.
The Mayor emerged. Discussions were held between the leaders, police, and city officials. Eventually, the crowd dispersed as silently as it formed. I never knew the substance of so many of the protests but we all understood the purpose. A show of strength for the ANC. Intimidation for IFP.
We saw the war played out in dozens of ways that impacted us. My husband's work at the hospital saw an upswing in gunshot wounds relative to the more traditional machete and knife wounds. One day the Orthopeadic ward was shot up in front a friend's eyes while a group of ANC militants liberated an injured colleague from police custody. Another friend received a death threat from an ANC-affiliated nursing sister for challenging her unethical patient care. A friend in family practice in a rural farming community where the fighting was especially bad reported their hospital conducting 20-25 post-mortems a week on gun-shot victims. There were open gun battles between the ANC and IFP on the streets in that same town.
Along with this backdrop of daily violence, we experienced a personal crisis and faced our future in South Africa. We didn't see one for ourselves and so we left in late 1992 for rural Saskatchewan. As Apartheid gave way to the certainty of a new South Africa, negotiations began in earnest for the creation of a new constitution. Rather than alleviate tensions between the ANC and IFP, the crisis intensified and this time came to national and international attention.
The world, in love with Nelson Mandela and the righteous cause of the ANC, remained largely ignorant of violence in Natal. While the warfare was definitely perpetuated by both sides of the ANC-IFP divide, the aggression, in my opinion, came from the ANC. However, as is often the case, history is written by the victor. In Nelson Mandela's brilliant autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, he whitewashes this period and sanitizes the ANC's involvement in Natal. I want to believe Mandela wasn't aware of his party's less savory tactics, which is possible considering his long imprisonment and statesmanlike distance from certain elements of ANC leadership.
In hindsight, we know the elections were peaceful, but in 1993 and early 1994 outright war seemed a reasonable possibility. Most other African colonial transitions to self-rule were accompanied by protracted civil wars. In early April, 1994 the Rwandan genocide erupted and Buthelezi and the IFP were boycotting the upcoming South African election. All the pieces were in place for an African debacle. Mandela and the ANC had its roots in the Xhosa tribe. The IFP and Buthelezi were Zulus, a proud, warrior nation that colonized much of southern Africa before the British put an end to their expansion.
International diplomats, including Henry Kissinger, had already come to South Africa and failed to negotiate an agreement between Buthelezi and Mandela. Washington Okumu, a Kenyan political advisor, former Harvard student of Kissinger, and former classmate of Buthelezi, came to South Africa as part of the negotiation team at the behest of Christian evangelist Michael Cassidy. Dubbed by some as Africa's Billy Graham, Michael Cassidy, a long-time friend of my brother and sister-in-law and my nephew's godfather, believed there had to be a way to broker peace in South Africa. While Kissinger and the other international diplomats packed their bags and left the country just twelve days before the elections were scheduled, Cassidy convinced Okumu, a fellow Christian, to stay behind and try again.
In the meantime, African Enterprise (AE), a Pietermaritzburg-based evangelist ministry headed by Michael Cassidy, was working to bring South Africa's Christians to their knees before God. AE scheduled a prayer rally for April 17, just ten days before the election. On April 14 and 15 Okumu met with IFP consitutional negotiators and created a blueprint for a solution, but despite efforts to keep Buthelezi in Johannesburg, his plane lifted off before Okumu reached the airport to present the new plan. Shortly after take-off a faulty gyro in Buthelezi's plane forced it to turn back. Buthelezi later attributed the airplane malfunction to God's intervention. He agreed with Okumu's plan, freeing Okumu to fly to Cape Town to approach the ANC.
On April 17, 25,000 Christians crowded into King's Stadium in Durban while others across the nation and world committed themselves to praying for a peaceful resoluation to the standoff. During the Jesus Peace rally, while the crowd prayed and sang hymns, Okumu and Buthelezi met in the stadium's VIP lounge with ANC leaders. The Okumu plan received assent by all the parties and was ratified in a special session of Parliament on April 18, just nine days before the election.
My sister-in-law sent me an editorial newspaper clipping from The Natal Witness, April 20, 1994. The writer, a cynical, atheistic reporter I knew from my work at the museum, related the events brokered by Michael Cassidy and Washington Okumu and orchestrated by God. He declared it a miracle. A miracle of peace.
I wish I could report that South Africans live in constant peace and security now. I can't. AIDS is ravaging the country and violent crime is a daily constant. But the lesson we learn from this situation isn't that God will create lasting perfection in our lives or world through one miracle. He can't. We are still fallen people in a fallen world. What we see through this situation is that if we humble ourselves and pray when we come upon or live in the midst of war, be it between nations or tribes or families or churches or colleagues, and then we respond by seeking God's will ahead of our own and bend our will to His will, peace is not only possible, it is probable.
I apologize for this especially long post and thank you for your patience.
Right now, another nation beset by chronic problems is in the midst of a crisis. Join me in praying for a miracle for Haiti. Christian agencies at work in Haiti are committed to rebuilding the country and the lives broken there through chronic poverty, corruption, and now the earthquake. My family supports the work of World Vision, Compassion, and Samaritan's Purse. I invite you, if you haven't already done so, to commit to praying for the people of Haiti in their grief and struggle to rebuild. And to pray for aid agencies at work in Haiti, that they might be agents of God's grace, mercy, and peace in that troubled land.