Life Happenings Can Lead to Ministry

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by Bonnie S. Calhoun

Many of you probably aren’t old enough to remember….yeah…I’m dating myself…but there used to be a TV show called “This is Your Life.” In that show the subject would sit and watch a big screen that rolled pictures of their many life events and people from those pictures would sit back stage narrating the scenes. Of course those shows always turned out fine because in those days TV was for entertainment not embarrassing expose.

But it always intrigued me. One, because I could see us in heaven doing the 2 Cor 5:10 thing with that big screen and two, because my mother used to say, “You should write a book about all the things you’ve done and been through.”

I always told her that fact is way stranger than fiction, and fiction has to make sense or you make people suspend disbelief. If you do good enough set-up you could probably work in a bunch of bizarre circumstances, and that brings me to the subject of this post.

I’m always saying, “Write what you know.” How better to do that than to include real life incidents in your stories. You can leave out the names of the innocent…or guilty, but real life incidents carry a lot more punch and complexity than trying to think things up and it will give you a much more accurate representation of what the characters would feel.

And that brings me to my latest book, Pieces of the Heart. Although WWII was a sad time for our nation, it was also an awakening of sorts. Up until that time our military had a long-standing policy of segregation. Eleanor Roosevelt’s airplane ride with Charles “Chief” Anderson of the first all-black air squadron called Tuskegee Airmen and later in the war, the fame of the Red Ball Express both helped to erase the inequality in our military. You can read many of these encounters in U.S. Department of Defense or National Archive websites.

Many of the incidents portrayed in the book, on New Caledonia during the war were experiences of my late father. It took him many years to get over them and even to the end there were a lot of things that were still to painful to discuss. WWII soldiers came home with battle fatigue, which we today call PTSD, and they were expected to “buck up and get over it.” There was no medical or social help to the extent that we have available today.

But yet today, as we end wars on several fronts, we are welcoming home thousands of brave men and women who are also going to suffer from PTSD. I pray to God that we, as a nation, do everything in our power to help these mentally and physically wounded warriors of this generation and their families.

So in using these life instances it has also given me another front to minister on. What kind of life instances can you use in your writing? And how can those instances lead you to new ministry opportunities.

Pieces of the HeartBonnie S. Calhoun is owner of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, publisher the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for ACFW, ACFW’s ‘Mentor of the Year,’ for 2011, President of Christian Authors Network, Appointment Coordinator for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

Comments 0

  1. This is really taking ‘write what you know’ a step further…creating the opportunity for better sales and more meaningful writing. Thanks, Bonnie!

    Your next novel, Pieces of the Heart, sounds fascinating!


  2. Bonnie,

    When I think about my life…and I’m sure yours too. The things I’ve gotten myself into and the situations the Lord has gotten me into. Why, you just can’t make this stuff up.

  3. Yup, we truly are the sum total of all the events that happen to us. Way to go using that tidbit. The one tidbit I used in one of my novels, the editor slashed and burned. grrrr

  4. We can always count on this: God is up to something good. Too bad we don’t remember it when we’re going through the icky stuff. I, too, hope we minister well to the hurting. Nice post.

  5. Bonnie, I remember “This Is Your Life” and a lot of other weird krap from the 50s including Betty White’s FIRST show and Lucy before she was in reruns. I think we are better writers if we mine the experiences God has given us, and reshape them into fiction. I’m not a huge fan of “This really happened!,” but of refining our experiences to fit our characters’ needs. That’s why I write historicals — I can’t say, “This really happened!” because I wasn’t there.
    Kathy Bailey

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