When Fiction Becomes Life

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By Cynthia Ruchti

Decades ago when I wrote radio drama and devotions for a daily broadcast, I created a script in which two voice-over characters discussed a new program at their church. Those within the church who were devoted to prayer were given pagers so they could be alerted immediately, even if they were far away from their home or phone when the need arose. This was in the days before cell phones became the norm, before smartphones could send a message alert, before Facebook could send news of a prayer need faster than the speed of sound.

The script had its lighthearted moments and a connection to biblical truth about staying in tune with the Holy Spirit as if He were paging us as needs arise.

Imagine the joy when a listener wrote to say that their church had heard about the prayer pager system and immediately implemented it for their prayer team!

Fiction became life. And idea in a fictional script became a vital part of a church’s prayer ministry. I can’t help but wonder if the church converted to smartphone alerts now.As Waters Gone By

While writing a scene from a recent release-As Waters Gone By-I had a flash of wondering if that scene might become a church or community’s ministry idea.

Café owner Boozie Unfortunate prepares a Thanksgiving feast with high impact for any who walk through the doors on Thanksgiving Day. They’re randomly seated at one of several tables where the food and décor reflect a particular special needs group.

A table marked “Third World Banquet” held bowls of rice and cups of tea. A table marked “Single Parent Family” made Thanksgiving out of mac-and-cheese and hot dogs. A table marked “Homeless in America” held an odd mix that looked like it came from a mildly successful Dumpster-dive. “Homeless Anywhere Else” marked the table with a bowl of well-aged bread crusts. A “Winter Before Thanksgiving” table, decorated with Indian corn and pilgrim hats, held bowls of wrinkled turnips, watery venison soup, and flakes of smoked fish. The table marked “Prisoners” was set with the kinds of compartmentalized trays Emmalyn remembered from watching documentaries of a 1950s cafeteria. On the trays were pools of runny mashed potatoes, gray-green peas, and a mystery meat that only the cooks knew wasn’t made from roofing tiles.

I’ve been to a world hunger “banquet” before-where the attendees chose numbers and were seated at tables with food expected at a rich person’s meal, a middle class meal, and a third world starvation-level meal. The poignant impression stayed with me as I wrote the Thanksgiving scene in As Waters Gone By. And it drew me to consider more deeply how a simple celebration looks so different depending on the emotional as well as the financial picture of the participants.

Knowing fiction can become reality, I’m waiting for the day when a reader sends a photo of a ministry feast that reminds the participants to remember those whose table looks different than theirs.

Cynthia Ruchti 2015Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope. An award-winning author of fifteen books to date, she writes novels, novellas, devotionals, nonfiction, and speaks for women’s events and writers’ workshops. Cynthia and her plot-tweaking husband of almost 43 years live in the heart of Wisconsin.

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