Writing: Spiritual Practice and the Development of Resources
By Kara Oliver
“To write is to reveal your mind at work… To write takes courage. You are a brave person just to attempt it.”
– Pat Schneider, Writing Alone and with Others
Discipleship Resources International's stated goal is to sustainably support local publishing teams in the central conferences as they produce resources that can be available, affordable, and appropriate to the context. Emile Odimba, the publishing team leader in Central Congo since 2011, sees these publishing teams as channels “through which local churches are empowered by having resources to teach their members.” These resources can support ministries of evangelism, worship, stewardship, or Christian education.
Yet, writing as spiritual practice brings a value even beyond production of resources. The deeply held belief that undergirds all of DRI's work is that God sometimes speaks uniquely to people through the spiritual discipline of writing. When writing is entered into as a spiritual practice, "the Holy Spirit will speak to you," says Rev. Carine. "You can be taken somewhere new. You discover you are writing important words." DRI encounters authors, like Carine, from the southernmost villages of Malawi to the academic hall of Institut Superior de Theologie in Cote d'Ivoire. We have met a female author who wants to tell the stories of children rescued from opposing armies in Liberian civil war and a male author who has been writing Christian education materials for over 35 years in Mozambique
Writing as spiritual practice stirs our spirit, as well as our mind. Prolific US author Anne Lamott, says, "I honestly think in order to be a writer, you have to learn to be reverent. If not, why are you writing? Why are you here? Let's think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world." Each author we meet has this reverence and awe, an openness to God and to the cries adn needs of God's people with whom they are in ministry. Rev. Dr. Gift Machinga reflected on his life as a pastor, always busy with the many tasks of ministry. He said writing as spiritual practice "teaches me to give time to stop, to reflect. It's not about me. It's about Christ. God will speak to me in writing... what I put on paper will stay with me longer."
DRI intentionally incorporates the practice of writing into nearly every meeting or event sponsored in the central conferences. We want to offer times for people to listen for that still, small voice of God that offers a word of encouragement and hope and, from that, an opportunity for people gifted in writing to record that good news to share in local communities Publishing Coordinator of the East Congo Conference team, commented, "Writing together in a group, I still somehow find myself alone, a testimony to Christ present in the exercise of writing as spiritual practice."
Please pray for the published and the unpublished, the writers and the editors in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They are courageously putting into print what has been revealed to them in service of the call of discipleship for the transformation of the world.