by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
I’ve been writing since I was in grade school – poems and plays mostly – before I finished sixth grade. In high school and university it was journalistic ventures with newspaper and year book publishing. For the 21 years we were in Africa, ministering to students and raising our own family, I recorded events and prayer needs in hundreds of letters we sent home, a normal assignment given to missionary wives. I dabbled a bit with poetry and gradually took up the challenge of writing short stories for children. I still have dreams of writing a few books for kids; I’ve started at least three.
For the past five years, I’ve been challenged to produce a fictional account, each month, about a typical child in an overseas setting, primarily Eastern Europe, Africa or Central America where KidZ at Heart sends teams to equip Christians in ministry to their own children. You may have read some of these stories in KidZ KaN for Families. They’re designed to help kids and their parents understand better and appreciate more what life is like in places they’ll probably never visit any other way than through a fictional adventure.
I’m a missionary, still, after all these years. I want readers to realize that God, who created this beautiful planet also created the children to grow up in families that people it. And, wonder of wonders, God knows the name of each of today’s 2.3 billion kids. I’m in awe every time I think of that. Your kids and grandkids are numbered among them, of course. God knows and loves them, too, even more than you do. Of course, you share God’s love with them in many ways. I trust, you help them realize just how big their God is, how much he loves them, how much he loves every child living in our world today.
It might interest you to know that each month I receive a gift from our Heavenly Father that I pass on to my readers. It’s a fictional account, based on factual material, and spun from the stuff my creative efforts weave. Creativity is God’s gift, too. Each story takes place in an assigned country, and that’s where I begin with research, especially if it’s a part of the world with which I’m not familiar.
Such was the case with April’s adventure in Romania. I did a lot of praying while I looked things up online and in books, interviewed people who have been there, and studied maps. To begin with, I needed to come up with something that would be a unique kernel of action for the story. It could be a problem that needed solving, or a situation in the life of the people to which I wanted to draw attention. Action is the king pin of any story. The characters I then create must step up in believable situations to carry forward that action. I strive for happy endings. Sometimes I’m able to finish off with a hint of what the next episode might be about, if we ever return to that place down the road.
I gladly share here what developed, almost miraculously, when, after many frustrating delays, I finally sat at my computer a few days ago and began to actually create the story of a fictional, complex, large family living on the outskirts of a Romanian town near the border with Moldova. A family member discovers a secret, hiding in an animal shelter out back of the house. Fun! Sometimes my characters so come to life that I’d like to take them home with me. Sometimes their situations are so sad that I weep for them. Maybe that’s one of the benefits of being a story writer. One never gets lonely.
If you have children still at home, I’d like to challenge you to write your family’s story while you’re living it. Include the kids in the process. They can do it even if they’re too young for school. Pictures tell stories, too. Set aside some time each week to record what happened to make you happy, or sad. What puzzled you. What you learned. People you met – challenges you met. Anything that’s memorable. Anything that shows you how much God loves you. Threads of truth from the Bible that you managed to weave into your family’s life-fabric. I could go on, but I’ll close by saying this. You won’t regret it, even if you have to give up something else to find time for it. God is surely writing your story, you know. Don’t miss out on capturing what you can of it, now.
…but these are written that you may believe…that Jesus is God’s Son. John 20:31a
KidZ at Heart values children and the role they play in God’s plan.