Writing as the art of composition is a gift from God. The apostle Paul did not have to mention the gift of writing amongst others listed in the epistles to the Romans, Corinthians and Ephesians. He was modeling it. Writers of Old and New Testament books practiced the gift of writing. Had these Books not been written, faith would not have been preserved as received, but would have been distorted by humans.
Culture is the accumulation of human intellect and so is the culture of the Church. Writing preserves what is in the memories of people for the benefit of future generations. The Church’s intellect would run dry at any point in time if it does not benefit from the spiritual heritage accumulated earlier. Due to lack of reading, and consequently lack of awareness of our faith heritage, our churches suffer from a shallowness in understanding of the message of Scripture, and the concepts of faith that are embedded within. At the same time we cannot but ask: Are we making available to God’s people the appropriate resources for their growth in knowledge at various levels?
Churches in the Middle East relied for their growth for a long period of time on the intellectual contributions of western churches. And now there is evidence of rich writing gifts locally that pave the way for a promising future. We are hoping for a snowball effect, and we hope that our intellectual contributions grow in the following areas: worship as lifestyle, biblical studies, theological enquiry, church reference books, Christian ethics, the church’s evangelistic and social responsibilities, and books that address the pastoral, developmental, and counseling needs of God’s people for the different groups and ages.
Rare are those who are able to pour their thoughts into words. This is why we need to encourage emerging talents in the field of writing that they may mature and bear fruits. We can encourage these gifts through training seminars and conferences. Yet the priority is to build networks, in every country and large city, focused on nurturing Christian literature, and building the capacities of neglected gifts in our society, in addition to establishing newspapers and magazines that publish the works of writers, encouraging them in the process and developing their gifts.
With the encouragement of writers, people will also be encouraged to read. Had it not been for the need for food, farmers would not plant wheat. Similarly, what ignites the mind of an author is readers who appreciate and enjoy the written word. Library committees in churches have a vital role to play in whetting the appetite of their members for reading.
I encourage those who have a seed of the gift of writing to start working on developing it that it may grow and mature. And may all writers in God’s Kingdom know that their writing will not go to waste but will become a steadfast truth accessible to generations to come. The written word paves the way to God’s Kingdom, and its influence brings glory to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the “Word” that became flesh.
Ghassan Khalaf – Lebanese Author and Scholar