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Writers, hie thee to the ACFW Conference: Jim Peterson

Why the ACFW? What purpose can such an organization serve and how is fiction (of all things) a viable tool to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ? Wow, you sure ask a lot of questions :)

Well, let’s exam the second part first, after all this is Biblical (Ref. Matthew 19:30 – taken out of context :)

Many have questioned the validity or even the relevance of Christian fiction or Inspirational Fiction or whatever they are calling it today. (Frankly, I prefer, Non-secular, Quasi-Ecumenical, Faith Based, Life Applicable Stories of a Fictional Nature. However, I doubt this will catch on as it would be too costly and difficult to print on the spine of a book, let alone to rename an entire section of a bookstore or library. Besides the ANSQEFBLASoaFNW would just be a silly name for a writer’s organization. The organization would go broke just printing the abbreviation on a tote bags for a conference, not to mention how large these bags would have to be to accommodate the logo. I digress :)

To me, simplest answer to the validity question is our Lord taught in parables. Jesus met people where they were. He taught with stories which related to the people. His stories allowed people to relate to His message. Jesus (of course) understood one of the first rules of storytelling; know your audience.

None of us believe we can tell a story as well as the Lord and certainly not with His authority. However, as His followers, we are to be imitators of Christ and we are to relate to (and to love) one another as He did. This being the case, we are to use our talents and gifts to spread the gospel and to encourage one another. Some are called to be evangelist and some are called to be teachers.

As Christians we are called to witness and storytelling is a great way to witness. If you are reading this, you are probably called to be a storyteller.

Why ACFW? Well, writing can be a very lonely occupation. Though writers are often surrounded by people who may support them, the challenges facing an author can be overwhelming. These challenges and the isolation faced by authors can oft times be best understood by those who are also involved in writing.

I feel the goal of the ACFW is to allow writers to network and encourage one another. Another goal is teaching and mentoring by more experienced authors. Lastly, ACFW brings writers together with publishers and editors.

Networking is often a large part of the publishing process. While I was an acquisitions editor, I found it beneficial to meet with aspiring authors face to face. As with writing, I feel publishing can be an anonymous business. To me, meeting authors and making sure they knew what was required by the publisher I represented was of immeasurable value, both to myself and the author.

I want to encourage authors to produce the best work they can. I want to encourage you to continue to grow as a writer and as a Christian. Blessings to you all.

— Jim Peterson is a research historian who works with his wife, best-selling author Tracie Peterson. He will be at conference to mentor writers.

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