by Kathy Harris
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6 NIV
These words of the Apostle Paul from Philippians 1 came to mind as I drove away from a recent ACFW chapter meeting. It had been a particularly emotional gathering. Writers are passionate people, even though we may not always show (or tell) it in our real lives. We feel deeply. We hope strongly. And we believe fiercely that words–our words and the words of our fellow writers–can make a difference. Whether we pen women’s fiction or fantasy, we choose to dig into the deeper things of life and to encourage others with our words.
I’ve been a member of my local writers group, originally not an official chapter of ACFW, for more than a decade. During that time, I’ve grown to love the group and the people in it. A few have come and gone, and even many of those have stayed in touch. Together, we’ve shared the good times and the bad. We’ve made a lifetime of memories. We’ve helped each other. We’ve celebrated publishing debuts, and we’ve mourned personal losses. We’ve signed books together, laughed together, and worked together to build a better group–and to build each other up. Most importantly, we’ve prayed for each other and picked each other up when we’re ready to give up. Apart from family, no one can encourage a writer like other writers.
If you’re not a part of a group and you’re interested in joining one, check out the list of chapters on the ACFW website. They are now 33 strong and growing. If there isn’t an official ACFW chapter in your area, start one! Or join another Christian writers’ group.
Finding a faith-based group is important. If you’ve been a writer for long, you know that the Adversary will come against you, sowing seeds of discouragement, doubt, and even personal difficulties the closer you are to reaching your goal.
Once again, the words of the Apostle Paul:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV
It was exactly “this present darkness” that inspired one of the first and most powerful contemporary Christian fiction books ever written. Frank Peretti, the author of This Present Darkness (Crossway Books, 1986), shared in an interview with Where the Map Ends, “Our stories have to reflect the hearts of people as they really are so that we can touch real hearts and make a difference.”
Touching hearts and making a difference is much easier when we allow ourselves to be encouraged by others–and regularly reminded ‘that he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
Kathy Harris is the author of The Road to Mercy (Abingdon Press). She writes women’s fiction and romantic suspense and is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency. Connect with Kathy on her website, Facebook and Twitter.