Thursday, September 24, 2009

meet Nikki Arana

Today is a winners day here at Patterings! This time we have three...
The winners of Mary Hake's Creation are Leslie Gould and Kay and the winner of Maureen Lang's Look To the East is Laury. Send me your addresses, ladies, so we can get your books out to you! :-)

And now I'd like to introduce you to this week's nonfiction author, Nikki Arana. I've been looking forward to this because this topic has really caught my interest this summer, and it's been on my heart.

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Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of women’s fiction, essays, poetry, and magazine articles whose work has been published in the United States and Canada. She has won several national awards, including the Excellence in Media 2007 Silver Angel Award, American Christian Fiction Book of the Year for Women's Fiction, and the Beacon Award. Her book, The Winds of Sonoma was named One of the Top 20 Best Books of the Year by Christianbook.com. Nikki is also the recipient of the Jessie Cameron Alison Writer of the Year Award. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Nikki and her husband of thirty-three years, live in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. When she’s not plotting novels or giving workshops, Nikki speaks about her other passion, how to lead Muslims into the kingdom of God. You can visit her website at: www.nikkiarana.com

Through the Eyes of Christ
Are you concerned about the growing rise of Islam? Do you feel powerless to stand against the tide because you do not have enough information? Do you feel that the increasing population and influence of Muslims in the United States is a matter that is relevant to Christians?

Through the Eyes of Christ will give you step-by-step instructions, drawn from Christ’s example, to respond to the rising Muslim population here in America. You will learn how to minister and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ by using references to Jesus from the Muslim’s holy book the Qur’an (Koran), and, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, pray with Muslims in the name of Jesus. This startling and life-changing information will empower you to bridge the chasm that separates us from the Muslims who live among us. It is a scripturally supported call to action. A call to live out our Christian faith and change the world.

Here's an excerpt of Through the Eyes of Christ:

(One of the main purposes of the book is to help Christians understand how Muslims view us. When we understand, it helps us connect across the cultural differences. You love your church and if you had a Muslim friend you might invite him or her to join you one Sunday. Suppose they accepted! Here is an excerpt from the chapter: What I Need to Know Before I Witness)

One of the first things Orthodox Muslims would notice upon entering a church is that there are no greetings of, “Peace be unto you.” Though this is a typical Islamic greeting, notice the instruction of Luke 10:5 that Jesus gives to his followers: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘peace to this house.’” Next, they would notice the absence of any facility for ritual washing. When Muslims enter the mosque to pray, they remove their shoes and stop at the water fountain to wash their hands and feet. This reminds us of Aaron of the Old Testament, who had to first wash before entering the Tabernacle. The Muslim guests would be even more surprised to see everyone with their shoes on, singing the chorus, “Standing on Holy Ground.” In their Qur’an is a story similar to the Exodus account of God in the burning bush telling Moses to remove his shoes because of holy ground. The Muslims would also notice Christians sitting in pews. In the mosque, Muslims sit on the floor in obeisance to God the King who alone is worthy to sit on anything resembling a throne or chair.

Muslims would be surprised to see men and attractively dressed ladies sitting side by side. In most mosque settings, only men are allowed into the main worship hall lest a woman distract a man from performing his prayer. Also in most mosque settings, singing and instruments are forbidden lest the format of worship take on a worldly appearance. When Muslims hear the lively music of guitars, keyboards, and drums in a church, they cannot fathom how Christians allow “disco music” into their place of worship. Muslims would be shocked to see Christians place their Bibles on the floor. For Muslims, any book viewed as God’s word is most sacred and must never be placed on the ground where the soles of men’s feet touch. The Muslims would hear the choir sing and the preacher speak; but would be troubled to hear joking and laughter in the same setting. For them, the worship room is no place for frivolous behavior; it is the place for utmost reverence. It is the place where one fearfully submits himself in humility and homage to Almighty God.

After the church service, the Muslim visitors would think to themselves what a well-planned performance this all was: the singing of a choir; the speech of a minister, and the special music of talented individuals, just like television. But the one thing they expected to see never took place. The congregation as a whole never bowed down to the floor as an expression of submission and reverence to Almighty God. The Muslims would wonder if Christians really did believe, as they do, that God is sovereign king of the universe. How strange that Christians don’t bow to Him as people do to an earthly king. Perhaps now you can see why Muslims regard us Christians as terribly irreverent, and why they would prefer to remain within their own community where people show far more respect to God.


Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing.
I first thought about writing in May of 2001. I enrolled in an internet class given by Eva Shaw called Writeriffic. But I didn’t recognize that it was God’s call to write until much later when I began sending out things for publication and they all sold! Then I realized God was telling me something. That’s when I decided to try writing a book. There are a lot more details about this on the homepage of my website: www.nikkiarana.com

After completing my manuscript I queried four agents. When Natasha Kern wanted to sign me I thought perhaps I did have a future in writing. That’s the moment I began to seriously pursue writing. I hired a professional editor to help me polish my book. It resulted in a multiple book contract!

What prompted you to write this book?
That is a fascinating story. While writing my third novel, The Fragrance of Roses, I needed an expert in blood matching as it relates to leukemia. Against all odds I connected to a leading scientist in that area of research. He was a Muslim. I told him this was a Christian book and perhaps he would not want to promote Christ in this way. He said no, that he thought it was important to get the science right. That it was my book, not his. That lead to a ten month period of working together on the novel. He helped me in every way. He is a brilliant doctor and turned out to be an excellent plotter. As we worked together I came to admire him greatly. When the book was complete I realized that we would no longer be in contact with each other. Suddenly the reality that he is lost really hit me. And in that moment God revealed to me, in a way I cannot explain, the eternal consequences of that fact. For a fleeting moment God let me experience His love for the Muslims and His sadness that most Christians in America are not reaching out to them. It changed the direction of my life.

My ministry is not so much to Muslims as it is to the American Christian church. Calling them to reach out in friendship to the moderate Muslims who live among us, model the love of Christ to them, and then with the leading of the Holy Spirit give them the Gift that Islam can never give. Imagine my excitement when the book was endorsed by Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College and Campus Crusades’ The Ishmael Project.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
It is probably the same obstacle that most authors face. Sitting down and doing it. Brandilyn Collins once said, “I like everything about being an author, except the writing.” Yep, I know what she means.

I feel deeply about many spiritual and social issues. All of my books present moral dilemmas that challenge the characters and the books are driven by the dramatic issue of the novel. So when I’m having trouble getting focused and writing, I revisit the strong feelings that inspired me to write the book in the first place. It always works. I feel God’s presence. He is with me. I can do it.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Something I do that probably looks quirky is that I drape my napkin over my chest when I’m eating in a restaurant, even a fancy one. I mean the whole napkin, like a big sheet covering my clothes. It’s been commented on by my sons and their wives many a time. Hey, I wear a lot of white and know what can happen . . . and sometimes does. You’d better believe I give them a wicked grin when something drips or drops on their white shirts and blouses.

LoL--I gave up wearing white for just that reason, Nikki! I just cannot keep it spot-free!
What would a perfect day for you look like?

It would be a sunny summer day. I would have nothing pressing to do. I would spend the morning reading and studying things that I’m interested in. At noon I’d go to lunch with one of my daughter-in-laws. I’d come back home about 2:00 and write for a few hours. The words would flow and express exactly what I was thinking. At 5:00 I’d start dinner for my husband, who I adore. After dinner we’d sit and talk and laugh.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m a big non-fiction reader. I read a lot of Watchman Nee and Oswald Chambers books. In fiction, I like all kinds but favor romance and suspense. Tamera Alexander is my favorite author.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?

Ack! I’m quite fluffy and can get fluffier by breathing air. When I first started writing in 2001 I decided I would never eat in my office. I allow myself drinks like tea, and drinks with zero calories. But no food.

Oh, now there's an idea, Nikki! I'm always afraid I'll spill on my keyboard and desk, and that would be a disaster, so I limit what I have beside me, too. ;-)
What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?

I could write a book on this. In fact, I’ve considered it. I have been on an unbelievable journey with the Lord for the past six years. It has been a time of sanctification. I have learned many spiritual truths. I keep a list of them and use them as principles to live by. Now, with His truths as a foundation, I believe He is teaching me how to love my enemies, do good to those who hate me, bless those who curse me, and pray for those who mistreat me. This is not becoming possible for me because of who I am. It is because of who He is. It is truly understanding that I am no better than my enemies except for the provision of my Savior. I don’t believe there are degrees of sin. Well, except for blaspheming the Holy Sprit. I have wondered which offends God more – the sinful acts of the unsaved, or the sinful acts of the body of Christ! We know better, they don’t. Something to think about. And if you come to see your sins for the horrific transgression and offense to God that they are, and you find that He never withholds from you His infinite capacity for mercy, love and forgiveness, you can begin to see your enemies through the eyes of Christ. A spiritual reality revealed. But for the saving grace of Christ, but for the cross and the empty grave, I am them. A sinner capable of any depravity. How wrong for me not to extend the love I have received to them. How wrong I am not to let Christ live out His life through me when I have told Him I am His to do with as He pleases. Loving ones enemies is possible. Christ would not have told us to do it if it weren’t.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Fear No Evil is the story of Austia Donatelli, an underground missionary . . . here in the United States! She ministers to Muslims by teaching English as a Second Language to Muslim woman. One of her students, Sabirah, converts to Christianity. As often happens when a Muslim leaves Islam, Sabirah is killed by a relative for dishonoring Islam and her family.

Yes, what once was happening only “over there” is now happening here. Honor killings. Family members killing their relatives who leave Islam to follow Jesus Christ. Fear No Evil takes that sobering truth and weaves it into a suspenseful tale that takes unexpected twists and turns. The heroine a vessel of God, the villain a tool of Satan, all lives are at stake and eternity hangs in the balance. Austia must set up a secret network of safe houses before another Muslim woman answers Christ’s call.

The book is currently in committee at a major publishing house.

You can purchase Through the Eyes of Christ from her website www.AVoiceForThePersecuted.com or Amazon:


Nikki is giving away a copy of Through the Eyes of Christ. To be entered in the book giveaway, you must have a US address. Leave a comment and check back on Thursday, October 1st to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

13 comments:

  1. Patty,
    Love this post...haven't been by in awhile, so I probably love all your posts...if I would take more time!!
    Wish I was in America so I could find one of her books!!!

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  2. Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks.

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm a subscriber to your e-mail.

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous3:51 PM

    This book sounds VERY interesting.
    Sunny

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  5. I'd love to read this book!

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  6. I'm a subscriber!

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  7. I would love to hear from whoever wins, or from any of you who read the book. Truely, it is Christ's answer to Islam.

    Blessings,

    Nikki

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  8. This is something I would really like to learn about. This is certainly a book for the times, reaching out to Muslims. It is a belief system that most of us don't know a lot about or how to approach them for Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, what a dynamite tool! Please enter me. Thank you.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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  10. great interview and sounds like a great book, please enter me into the drawing.


    mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  11. If you don't win and want the book, e-mail me at nikki@nikkiarana.com. They retail at $14.10 plus $3 something for shipping. I have some here from a promotion at $12 plus $2.77 shipping. I'll sign them and pass the savings on to you.

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  12. JoAnn S9:03 PM

    Sounds like a good book. Please enter me in the give away. Thank you.

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  13. This book introduces a very relevant topic for today's world. I salute Nikki for having the courage to follow the prompting of God to complete this project. People interested in this topic might want to read about Heidi Baker's exploits in the Muslim country of Mozambique.
    Donald James Parker
    Author of All the Voices of the Wind

    ReplyDelete

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