My Story as a Writer
thankful of God's grace and overjoyed that I was asked to contribute to this
special issue of Manna. When I look back at my work for literary ministry, I
cannot but marvel at the way the Lord has taught me through the course of writing.
writing some short Christian prose and passages back in the year 1988; not
exactly with the intention of getting them published in various English TJC
publications, and this was before Manna unified them all in the mid-90s.
was to express some of my reflections and teachings that I gathered from Bible
reading and my encounters in service to God. Also, I wanted to ensure that I
would remember these precious inspirations, both directly from God and through
Bible study sessions, and develop them into more readable, organized, and
structured messages to share in the community of faith.
still somewhat clear in my mind that whenever I felt like expressing myself, I
would quickly scribble it down on a sheet of paper for a proper type-out later.
In those days, a laptop was quite a rare commodity—a gadget that only the rich
literate could afford, let alone for me to carry around to meet my
spur-of-the-moment writing needs.
I habituated myself to the practice
of translating thoughts into written words. I enjoyed doing it so much that,
even after a game of Scrabble, I would not hesitate to pen my thoughts down.
When time permitted, I would revise them. A few years later, by the grace of
God, I managed to produce many unpolished articles, both short and long, some
of which were adapted, revised, and used for the church literary ministry.
honest, and maybe suffering from some sort of forgetfulness, I can remember
neither the topic nor the publication date of my first church article. Many
times, however, when I recall how God has provided me with the opportunities to
write for Him, there is always a sense of impossibility in view of my
background but immense joy for where I am now in the Lord. My response to such
grace is to continue to write for Him whenever and wherever possible.
Each time that a chance arises for
me to share in writing, I humbly and happily accept
the offer. I have been so eager to serve in the ministry of writing, and my
zeal for it is grows everyday. How God has shaped my
writing has been deeply imprinted in my mind. It has been a long and difficult
journey—one that started out with a sense of impossibility in view of my
background—but a truly fulfilling and rewarding one.
think of it, to be given the ability to write was well beyond my wildest
ambitions and expectations. I have come to realize that a gift may not be
readily given to us when we ask of the Lord. It requires much effort on our
part, and it takes time for the gift to develop. The best way to fulfill our
writing potential for God is to frequently get involved in writing itself.
Constant practice instills confidence and creates momentum in our will to
produce works through trial and error. It makes us long to learn more.
M.S. Tsai was in the UK in
the early 90’s, he always helped conduct literary workshops
to train up more writers in LondonChurch. I was always one
of the most faithful participants. I even took up a writing course by
correspondence with a writing school, though I did not complete it. These
courses actually helped me a lot; especially the technical aspects of writing.
They resolved some of the problems that I faced, as they would to any new or
experienced writer alike.
trying to jot an idea down, for example, some of us may suffer writer’s block,
which, in fact, happens to all writers. But if we face it positively, it
compels us to search more deeply and regularly into the Bible. If we persist,
we become more and more acquainted and equipped with the word of God, with the understanding
that learning is life-long and humility is always required. And before we know
it, we would have accumulated enough writing to use at our disposal.
an excerpt from my article, “Be conversant with the Bible,” which I think might
be useful for those who are in pursuit of God’s word:
conversant with the Bible] is best achieved, as some may assume, by reading,
searching, and preaching. We can take verses from any chapter to commit to our
memory. Memorizing a list of verses may have a retention value but we may only
acquire weak feeling for life’s application and impartation. Knowing the Bible
should not be a mechanical process but should occur spontaneously with
learning, meditating, and practicing the truth. Apart from searching, learning
God's words requires divine guidance for our comprehension. Not only is it for
self-edification but also the enhancement of others' spirituality. Meditating
on the scriptures is the key not only to increasing the retentive capacity but
also discovering the pattern of the sounded word. When we come upon an
important verse... pause and ponder over it to find out how it is related to
other passages. Most importantly, we need to know how it can be applied to our
lives. Practicing the words should be the strict reason for being conversant
with Scriptures. It is the practice of God's words and not just academic
proficiency that brings out the spiritual momentum and vitality in the doer.
The more we do, the deeper our understanding, thereby becoming conversant with
still remember the early years of my writing for the church. I found it hard to
piece biblical ideas together. To make them flow and easily understandable, I
adopted the approach of organizing them into thoughts and drafts and then
revising them as the writing progressed. It was wonderful.
during that time that I had many quiet moments of meditation over God's word.
It even became an intrinsic part, if not the whole, of my character. This was
also the phase of my life where I grew to love and embrace God's word in
teachings I learned in the past from workers of the church are now dearly mine.
In particular, I thoroughly worked through practically every doctrine that our
church preaches. I developed them into booklets, and I answered questions
raised by other denominations in writing. It became very handy when talking
about, preaching, and sharing the Bible. By repetitively going through the same
mental process, I became more organized in my verbal presentation, such as
talking to truth-seeking friends and giving sermons.
regular writing, I also generated a system, with God’s direction, to uphold the
precious truths that the Lord has given to the church. I learned how to defend
the truth logically, though I did not and still do not perceive myself as one
worthy or qualified to do so. And once it is put on paper, it will not be
forgotten and is good for future reference, which can be improved upon and
useful for the church and the many generations to come.
for God is a spiritual discipline. Not only does it help me understand more of
His word, it also shapes my spirituality as I learn to co-operate with the
circle of fellow writers in the church.
article to be published, it has to pass through the editorial and review
processes. Sometimes, the article may have to be revised. Other times, it may
have to be shelved, to put it in the mildest possible way. To me, this is the
time at which my humility and endurance are put to the test.
to be less egotistic when rejection occurs and see how my writing can be
improved upon with help from my brethren. The good thing about having been
through such a situation is that in my service to the Lord, I become less
critical of others and more open to diversified views, insofar as they are not
against the Bible.
God through writing is very meaningful, and anyone who has a willing heart is
able to experience it as long as he or she tries. God values the heart to serve
Him much more than the writing skill acquired.
the youngsters of the church today are so much more equipped with the basics to
embark on the ministry of writing, as long as humility is in the forefront and
is the foundation of their work. Globally, many of them have a good command of
the language, which, in this case, is English, and have been through numerous
Bible seminars and training courses.
are one of them, do you still linger?
the time to serve God through writing.