I had a bit of a struggle deciding what topic to write on. As I trawled through possibilities in my mind I started to ponder on what brings this group of brilliant writers at different stages in life and in the publishing process together.
We are writers from different parts of the world, writing stories set in various places. But more importantly, we are Christians, brought together by an act of God when He sent His Son to die on the cross.
I grew up attending an Anglican church in Nigeria. As kids we didn't attend the 'Big' church. Instead we went to the Sunday School, where my older sister and I were viewed as 'different' because we spoke with British accents. I didn't spend a lot of time dwelling on the Bible stories taught there.
It's amazing how most non-muslim Africans classify themselves as Christians even if they're not born again. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I started to understand what it meant to be a Christian. I didn't grow up knowing that Christianity meant a relationship with God, or that you had to listen to and follow the leading of the Spirit. I didn't know that Bible study was necessary for growth, or even that growth was a factor in Christianity.
I've heard a lot of people tell the exact moment they got saved. I honestly can't do that. What I do know is that almost every time missionaries or groups of Christians from the local university came to my boarding school I always went forward during altar call. But because I lacked the basic foundations such as belonging to a Bible believing church, it wasn't until years later when I was at a cross-roads in my life that Christ became real to me.
I noticed that in London, where I was living at the time, some church services could be a tad sedate, except at Pentecostal churches, where the music was livelier. And then I moved to New Jersey in America where services were much more colorful, the sermons more fervent and emotional, but what stunned me the most was the fact that the congregants verbally responded to the preacher! Initially I found these reactions distracting, but with time I got used to them and even joined in!
The bottom line is that our cultures and backgrounds can affect the way we worship. Looking through Scriptures we find a strong example of the consequences of prejudice against the way others worship. Second Samuel chapter 6 tells the story of Michal despising her husband, David, for the 'base' way in which he worshipped God. The consequence was that she was barren for the rest of her life. As a group of Christians from around the world, the stories we tell and the way in which weave the message of hope in those stories are in some measure shaped by our backgrounds and experiences. What a wonderful tapestry the Lord has woven in bringing us together! The beauty, of course is that that which binds us together is so much stronger than that which makes us different.