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Mzungu

By Shirley Gould

As a missionary in Kenya, East Africa, I was affectionately called an mzungu. (To say it properly, hum the m, then say zoon goo.) When I asked my Kenyan guard what that meant, he would laugh nervously and shy away.

When he would pass by, I would ask again, “What is an mzungu?” He would say “Oh no, Mama.” But, at the end of the week, I had his pay. I held up his shillings. “Bwana, what does mzungu mean?” He smiled, hung his head and said, “Run in circles.”

“Run in circles?”

He hurried away with his pay, leaving me cemented to the spot.

Run in circles…but, I do run in circles. I think fast, talk fast and multi-task at every opportunity. But, so do you. We each have our family circled around us and a circle of friends and neighbors we interact with on a regular basis. We choose the churches we attend, businesses we frequent, the banks we use and the restaurants we dine at. We eat fast food, mail documents overnight and text at lightning speed. We juggle appointments and relationships while racing to be on time for a meeting with destiny. We live our stories, moving through these circles of influence, functioning at top speed as we represent
Christ to this world.

Isn’t it the same way in Christian Fiction? We have a variety of characters coming into our stories, adding their personal dynamic to the scene. They have circles of friends and acquaintances, tests and conquests, habitats and habits, strengths and weaknesses. It is how we intertwine these factors, while weaving our suspense, spiritual and romantic threads through our prose that creates life changing fiction. It is when we use heartfelt feelings, real pain and grief mixed with deep love and affection that life is breathed into our words. It’s about entertaining the masses, captivating our readers while influencing them in their walk with the Lord. It is taking parts of our lives and segments of our experiences and using them on the printed page, as a silent witness to the world.

It is a grand task…not for the weak of heart. The endless hours of writing and re-writing, the edits and writer’s block, the weeks sacrificed to a completed manuscript require dedication and perseverance with a touch of talent. It is a solitary life with little or no recognition.

It reminds me of stories of missionaries who labored for years in difficult fields. They left, feeling like a failure only to find that a child who heard the Good News of Jesus from them had become a life changer, winning the masses.

Keep writing my friend. Be an mzungu reaching people in your circles of influence. It is what we are called to do…to be His Hand extended to a lost and dying world. If it is through our manuscripts…then let it be so.

Shirley Gould elephantShirley Gould is an inspirational speaker for churches, women’s conferences, an African missionary, and a freelance journalist. She is founder of Kenya’s Kids Home for Street Children in Kenya, East Africa. She makes her home in the Nashville, Tennessee area, enjoying her three daughters, three sons-in-law, two grandchildren, Madison and Jake, and new grand-daughter Finley Grace…and a really loud parrot.

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