Many years ago, a young mother discovered Christian fiction. Those books impacted her faith so much she started a book club. She felt that God had used those stories to draw her back to Him. She wanted other people to experience some of what she had through reading those stories and to be able to talk with others about how God was speaking to us.
I didn't join the group for a number of years while I worked at my church because I didn't think I could squeeze in another activity. I also mostly read nonfiction at the time. Little did I know what I was missing.
My friends in the group said there were just certain books I had to read: Francine Rivers' The Mark of the Lion series, Randy Alcorn's Safely Home, Lynn Austin's Gods & Kings series were a few of the titles, and they swooned over some new guy author named Charles Martin.
So I bought or borrowed these titles.
There were some sleepless nights.
There were bleary eyes, blurry vision, tears...
And even bigger shifts in my heart and my opinion of fiction. The realization that there is power in story. Jesus taught with stories...
And I fell in love with Christian fiction.
So I became a faithful member group of the group. We only have a couple of rules. It must be Christian fiction, and you have to have read the book to recommend it.
Fast forward many more years, I had a crazy idea to write my own Christian fiction novel. When I finished, I fearfully asked a few members to read this mass of pages I'd gone to Office Max and printed off and put in a three-ring binder. The ladies were so encouraging. The whole book club ended up reading printed off copies of the very rough rough draft of Leaving Oxford. I cringe now thinking about how amateurish is was. But they cheered me on. While writing Going Up South, I sent a few of the members scenes every day as I wrote them. I really didn't care if they read them at that point, but it kept me accountable to keep working on this crazy idea. They were so patient as I clogged their inboxes with scene after scene. (I know they're thankful I found an author critique group with ACFW by the third book!)
A quote from my 4th book, Blown Together:
There is power in story. Stories change thinking, change lives. There is beauty in words. Words work their way into our hearts and nuzzle us up to greater heights. Words and stories inspire leaders, change societies, and spark revolutions.
I’ll never forget the first essay you wrote. I knew right away I had a writer in my class. You have a God-given gift, dear Elinor. You wield the power of story and the beauty of words. I ask you to continue to hone that gift to bless, inspire, and nurture. Transform lives for the better. Spark a revolution of love for the first Author.
Not only are we book club ladies closer to God through our reading of Christian fiction, we are closer to each other. We are sisters and friends!
I'm so thankful for my Christian fiction book club! Are you in a book club? Tell me about it.
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Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson