by John Maust
Imagine going to a bookstore and starting to browse. The authors’ names sound strange, and so do situations described in their books. Then you realize most were written by authors from a different country or area of the world. You search in vain for locally authored material that speaks directly to your situation and needs.
This exact situation faces Christians in many parts of the Majority World. In some nations of Africa, Asia, Latin America East/Central Europe and the Middle East, less than 10 percent of the available Christian content is written by local authors.
Where the Global Church is growing, too often a lack of homegrown Christian literature hinders its maturity and outreach.
“Most Christian books in Zimbabwe were written overseas,” writer and educator Priscilla Musoki said. “Good as these books may be, they do not tell the Zimbabwean story. They are not contextualized to the local situation.”
To help combat this famine of contextual Christian content, MAI equips men and women to create life-transforming books and articles in their heart language.
Since our founding in 1985, MAI has conducted trainings in more than 90 countries for 10,000 Christian publishing staff and writers. As a result, we have seen budding writers developed, publishing houses grown, periodicals launched and books produced.
With a Chicago headquarters staff of four and a modest budget, MAI carries out this international program through a global network of volunteer trainers. Gifted publishing professionals from many different organizations, companies, and countries donate their expertise and time to equip others.
One such trainer, Tim Thornborough of The Good Book Company in the UK, led workshops at the recent LittWorld 2022 global publishing conference in Hungary.
“Connecting with people across the globe involved in writing, publishing and book distribution and selling was a truly magnificent experience,” Tim said. “The gifting and passion for communicating God’s Word was astonishing to me…. My eyes were opened wide to the struggles, opportunities and excitement of publishing around the globe.”
In addition, MAI Trustees groups in Europe, Asia and Africa spearhead training in their respective regions. We also partner with numerous local and international groups having a similar vision for vibrant, local Christian publishing, and welcome this opportunity to engage with you in the UK Christian retail and supply trade.
Trainings tailored to each situation
MAI trainings are tailored to the needs of each local situation, as we seek to:
- Build strong, financially self-sustaining Christian publishers
- Develop original content in the heart language of the intended reader or audience
- Create content not just for Christians but also for general readers, who are the vast majority of the population in most places where we serve
- Build strong, long-term relationships with and between our global publishing colleagues
Encourage as well as equip
Because publishing and writing can be very lonely, if not risky, for many of our global publishing colleagues, we encourage as well as equip.
“I’m all alone,” a Japanese Christian publisher told MAI. “I have no staff. I do everything. Sometimes I groan at night or wake up from the financial pressure. But I love what I’m doing, and I am called by God to do this. Thank you for coming to encourage me and to pray for me.”
By building friendships and networks between global publishing colleagues, we seek to provide the encouragement to persevere and not give up.
“Meeting brothers and sisters [at LittWorld 2022] doing writing and publishing in very different circumstances was both a humbling experience and a deep joy,” said Janet Wilson of Dernier Publishing.
“We are truly stronger together. The work of MAI is keeping people going, reminding us that we are all a family, that whatever our circumstances (some of them tough beyond anything we can imagine), we are not alone.”
Local books with global impact
We look forward to the day when readers everywhere have access to life-transforming Christian content in their heart language.
Not only will these publications help nurture the Church and influence society in each local context, they will ultimately strengthen the church worldwide as gifted national authors join the global conversation of believers and their books find an international audience.
“Thank you, MAI, for making many voices heard around the table of global publishing,” author Marjorie Duterte of the Philippines said.
John Maust is President/CEO of Media Associates International, a global publishing training ministry based in the Chicago area. Information about MAI’s upcoming training workshops, webinars and the LittWorld conference may be found at www.littworld.org.