Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Freebie: Jeanette Windle and Congo Dawn

Last month, Jeanette Windle was kind enough to invite me to be a guest speaker for the Lancaster Christian Writers. At that meeting, Jeanette announced the release of her 16th novel, Congo Dawn (Tyndale House Publishers), and since one good turn deserves another, I'm happy to feature Jeanette here today.
Jeanette may be a Lancaster girl now, but as the daughter of missionary parents, she grew up in the rural villages, jungles and mountains of Colombia, places which are now guerrilla hot zones. Ripped from today's headlines, Congo Dawn is set against the background of the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri rain forest conflict zones. Jeanette's research has informed her writing so much that government agencies have questioned her to determine if she has received classified information!
Jeanette has lived in six countries and has traveled in more than 30 on five continents. Those experiences have inspired 16 fiction titles, including Veiled Freedom, a 2010 Christian Book Award and Christy Award finalist, and its sequel Freedom's Stand,a 2011 Golden Scroll Novel of the Year finalist and 2012 Christian Book Award and Carol Award finalist.
Welcome, Jeanette. How did your own experiences flavor this novel?

Growing up in the world's largest rain forest, the Amazon, I was captivated by missionary biographies from its second-largest African counterpart, the Congo, among them the story of  Dr. Helen Roseveare. Dr Roseveare helped establish several mission hospitals and medical training centers in the Ituri rain forest, despite violence and unrest of impending Congolese independence, and she herself was held captive for five months during the 1964 Simba rebellion.

The largest of those centers, Nyankunde, was razed in 2002 during the continuing conflict that has taken more than five million Congolese lives in the last decade. Today's fighting is greatly aggravated by the value and pursuit of conflict minerals in that zone.  As always, it has been the mission pilots, medical personnel - both expatriate and Congolese - and other followers of Yesu, Jesus Christ, who have been first back into the conflict zones well ahead of United Nations, embassy, local law enforcement or any other humanitarian and corporate interests. Their courage in shining bright the light of Yesu's love in one of the planet's darkest corners gave voice to this story.

How did you come up with the concept for Congo Dawn?

For the story's actual suspense thread, I've had personal opportunity to witness what a multinational corporation is capable of in dark corners of the Third World when no one is watching (an experience in itself too unbelievable to write up as fiction). In Africa, as elsewhere, both the protective and striking arm of such corporations has historically been hired foreign mercenaries. But today's private military corporations are vastly different, possessing more fire power than the average country. What struck me was the lack of any accountability to outside oversight beyond some paid-off local warlord. So what happens when a multinational corporation with unlimited funds hires on a private military company with unbridled power in a Congolese rain forest where the ultimate 'conflict mineral' is up for grabs? Coming up with one very plausible possibility birthed Congo Dawn.

On a deeper spiritual level, Congo Dawn addresses the age-old question of how a world filled with such darkness, injustice and pain can possibly be the creation of a God of love. How can followers of Yesu in the bleakness of an Ituri rain forest conflict zone or any other dark corner of this planet take seriously a Scriptural mandate to rejoice in their suffering [James 1:2; I Peter 4:13]? What value beyond our own comprehension might human suffering possibly hold that a loving Creator God permits it to continue?

What has missionary life taught you about sharing your faith cross culturally?
A major issue is separating biblical faith from one's own personal culture and ideology. Our faith and cultural background , even in such issues as how to "do" church, are so intertwined we often don't recognize where the dividing line comes. One has to learn to stick with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ and not get bogged down discussing personal politics, cultural practices, etc. The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel under a corrupt totalitarian government. He gave instructions as to how Christians should live as slaves, bought-and-sold wives, husbands and fathers with absolute authority, masters, rich, poor. He did not waste voice debating the politics of the Roman Empire or how an ideal society should be, but only taught how followers of Jesus Christ should live in every circumstance - and so by living, change their societies from the inside out. That changing hearts through contact with the life-changing love of Jesus Christ is the only real way to change a country is a strong theme in all my international intrigue titles.
What message would you like your readers to take from Congo Dawn?
The same simple, yet profound realizations to which Congo Dawn's  protagonists are ultimately drawn. The coexistence of a loving Creator with human suffering is no oxymoron, but a divine paradox those refined in the fires of adversity are best equipped to understand. The smallest flames of love and faith shine most brightly against the darkest night. Our heavenly Father really does know what he's doing and His ultimate plans for our lives and all His creation will not be thwarted.

What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?

Read, read, read and write, write, write. It is the saturation of mind and heart with good literature and prose that creates good writers as well as the practice of the craft. Any would-be writer who cannot tell me what they are currently reading or who says they don't care for reading but just want to write are immediately crossed off my list as serious potential writers.

How can readers connect with you?

Any reader interested in knowing more about Congo Dawn, my other titles, or my own life journey is invited to visit me at my website, my personal blog (From the Eye of the Storm) or contact me directly at I would also be delighted to participate with your local book club or discussion group through Skype, video or on-line chat conference, or in person if I am in the vicinity. 
Local readers can join Jeanette for a book signing on Saturday, February 23 at Berean Books in Lancaster, PA.
Can't wait till then? Click here to read an excerpt from Congo Dawn.


  1. I love Jeanette's books. Real, gripping, and intense. The interview was great learning how she birthed the book. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lisa and Jeanette,
    Hey ladies.

    Thanks for teaming up and giving me a peek at the new book! I especially enjoyed the advice to aspiring writers. I feel the same way about writers who say they don't just can't be!

  3. Thanks for visiting! Teaming up is fun - thanks Jeanette!

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