By: Jeanette Windle
“In the end, it will be OK. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.” Opening keynote speaker Andrew Goh’s reminder of God’s sovereignty and ultimate victory was a timely message for the 278 delegates to Littworld 2015, a global Christian publishing conference, held November 1st-6th at the YWCA Fort Canning Lodge in downtown Singapore.
Held every three years in rotating locations, Littworld is hosted by Media Associates International, an international ministry focused on developing indigenous Christian publishers and writers around the world. Attending publishers, editors, writers and designers indeed embodied an alphabet soup of nationalities from Argentina, Benin, Cambodia to Ukraine, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, a total of 50+ nationalities from six continents. Representing BCM International at Littworld were Dr. Jacob Mung, BCM Myanmar national director and CLC (Christian Literature Center) publisher for that nation as well as Jeanette Windle, BCM Communications and editor of BCM World magazine.
Many delegates arrived in Singapore facing far greater challenges than book sales or the best cover graphic. Delegates from northern Nigeria shared the impact of Boka Haram. A Lebanese publishing house has opened their doors to thousands of Syrian refugees. From Egypt, keynote speaker Randy Capp, Bible Society of Egypt, highlighted how the massacre of 21 Coptic Christians last February has inspired, not hate, but calls for forgiveness. The written word in form of a poem, “Two Rows by the Sea”, has already taken that forgiveness to more than a million Egyptian readers. (see http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/2015/02/24/a-poem-of-hope-two-rows-by-the-sea/)
Other delegates arrived from situations of political pressure, whether anti-conversion legislation in Myanmar to government restrictions in Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, China, Pakistan. Still others from the Ukraine to Cameroon and the Congo have endured daily dangers of open warfare. One devotional speaker from an at-risk nation shared their challenges in the apostle Paul’s own words: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).
And indeed, the atmosphere of Littworld 2015 was not somber, but the rejoicing of a family reunion. The week was filled with learning opportunities from continuing tracks and individual workshops covering practical applications from writing and editing to graphic design and marketing. BCM Communications delegate Jeanette Windle taught a workshop on creating biblically-centered, culturally relevant youth curriculum, based on BCM’s own curriculums Footsteps of Faith and In Step with the Master Teacher.
One Malaysian publisher shared after the workshop, “I’d always thought writing for children was a simple matter. This workshop has shown me just how much goes into an effective curriculum.”
The theme of this year’s Littworld was “Reaching Your Reader”. In Monday’s first session, BCM Myanmar director Dr. Jacob Mung spoke on the vision this theme represented from Colossians 4:3: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.”
Jacob amplified, “To give the message of Jesus Christ is the reason we have become writers and publishers. I come from a very small, unpopular country. In my country there are many messages. But literature has the power of God to change people.”
Jacob then shared the story of two female Christian health workers he’d met in Myanmar’s delta area while doing relief work after a cyclone. The only Christians in their area, the women held worship services singing and praying together. For the preaching, they were reading aloud a book that Jacob’s publishing house, CLC, had printed, a collection of devotional readings entitled Just for Today by well-known Bible teacher and author Dr Harold Sala. Jacob himself had become acquainted with the title when he’d received the book through the connection of MAI associate Ramon Rocha, then CEO of OMF Publishing in the Philippines, at a previous Littworld. Now that printed translation was changing lives beyond any available church or pastor.
Jacob summed up, “If it were not for Littworld, I would not have such a big vision for my country. With MAI we come together to present one clear message of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God to change lives.”
As rewarding as the keynotes and teaching sessions was fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ with similar talents and interests from all over the world. Exploring Singapore’s famed Gardens by the Bay and Super-Tree Grove. Showcasing each country’s national dress for an eight-course Chinese banquet. Exchanging ideas over coffee or life stories with roommates from another continent. Praying for each other’s publishing houses and nations. All these built bonds that made saying goodbye difficult at the end of the week, leaving participants thankful for FaceBook, email and other 21st century global communication options.
“A small taste of heaven,” summed up MAI president John Maust. And indeed, as hands of countless skin tones from Asia, Africa, eastern and western Europe, North, South, and Central America, Australia, the island states from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean, joined together in one big circle for the conference’s final benediction, one could not but visualize that great multitude beyond count from every nation, tribe, people and language that will one day stand as one family before God’s throne (Revelations 7:9).
Still, that day has not yet come, and every mountain-top experience must come to an end. As MAI-Africa Chair Wambura Kimunyu recapped in the conference’s closing devotional, another Littworld has ended, and now the real work begins as each delegate heads back down the mountainside into the valley of hard work and daunting challenges. The goal carried home from Littworld 2015: to reach our readers, wherever they might reside, with a clear message of the hope to be found in every dark corner of this planet through an unambiguous vision of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Originally Published in BCM World December 2015