Readers, I met Hope through Linkedin and found we have a lot in common. I'm thrilled to introduce her to you.
Welcome, Hope. Tell us how much of
yourself you write into your characters.
I sometimes call myself the rejected missionary. My mother
is a wonderful storyteller and, as a child, I was deeply moved by my mother’s
Child Evangelism Fellowship missionary stories. I loved to meet the
missionaries who spoke at our church. My parents often hosted them in our home after
services, and I thoroughly enjoyed the table conversation about all their
exciting adventures and their passion for souls.
So at the end of the missionary’s message at church, he or
she would invariably ask people to come forward if God was calling them to be a
missionary. People quietly slipped out of their pews, sometimes tears streaming
down their faces, reluctant to surrender. (Who wants to go to Africa
and be eaten by head hunters?)
There I stood at my pew praying, “Pick me! Pick me!”
No call. No answer. One time in my adult years God finally
spoke to me at the end of one of those altar calls and said, “Sit down, Hope.”
That was plain enough. I sat down. I sat down and began to
write about the people I longed to meet on the mission field. What’s odd is
that I never really included a missionary in my novels. I write about the
indigenous people of China
and North Korea
the people I wanted to meet, advocate for, and even emulate. And although I
didn’t get to be a missionary, I interviewed countless people who ministered to
orphans, widows, and the persecuted Christians in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East
In all three of my China
novels, including Across
the China Sky
, I hope the readers can feel my heart through Mei Lin’s
love for Jesus and for people to the point that she is willing to lay down her
life for him.
I so understand what
you’re saying. My husband and I wanted to go to the mission field when the first YWAM
Mercy Ship finally set sail. We really wanted to be support staff on the ship.
And when we became very close friends with a missionary couple in Mexico, we
wanted to go be support staff for them. But God wanted us to be support from
And that’s what we’ve done. Oh, we’ve been on missionary trips into
Mexico and I was on one to Guatemala, but we’ve prayed, raised money, prayed,
befriended, prayed, and helped missionaries all the rest of our lives. One of our dear friends has been serving in China for most of her adult life. What is
the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Two years ago I wrote a poem that I would only share with my
mother. It was ridiculous, hilarious, and totally out of my norm. I didn’t even
read it to my husband. I was mortified when God laid it on my heart to READ it over
a microphone during my keynote message at the Montrose Christian Writers
Conference. My mother has all the sense of humor in my family—not me. I was deliberating
between saving face (a Chinese term for totally embarrassing myself) and
obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit. I obeyed God.
People were in tears laughing. Many requested the poem
afterward. I was relieved they liked it, but even more relieved that the whole
ordeal was over. Okay, now you’re wondering about the poem. Here are four stanzas
to “whet your whistle”:
This face that you see
Is not what will be
I’m destined for heaven
St. Peter’s not standing
With scales at the gate.
Or writing down fat grams
Of all that I ate.
No one will complain,
“My nose is too big!”
Or want hair replacement,
Extender, or wig.
My teeth won’t need whitened,
Filled, or replaced.
That’s how I’ll be smiling
When I see His face!
Well, you get the idea . . .
When did you first
discover that you were a writer?
About 10 years ago my mother gave me a box of all my school
papers she saved. I surprised to discover a story that I wrote in third grade. At
the top I wrote, “I want to write books.”
On the next few pages, I wrote a book complete with pictures
that I drew about a dog that was on a raft going down a river in the middle of
a terrible storm. I titled it, A Shelter
in the Time of Storm.
Until that moment, I honestly didn’t realize that I wanted
to write books since third grade!
Tell us the range of
the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
The highest treasure to me in the world is my Bible, of
course. I’ve smuggled Bibles into China
and watched the delight and
tears on the faces of our Chinese brothers as I handed a Bible to brothers and
sisters in Christ who never owned a complete Bible before.
I also discovered ancient writings that are said to be
written by the first century church called the Odes of Solomon. That little
book is so rich and reads much like the psalms of David.
As far as modern works, I most enjoy historical fiction or
biographies/autobiographies of men and women who are overcomers within the last
century or so. Men and women such as Corrie ten Boom, Lester Sumrall, D.L.
Moody, Billy Graham, Hudson Taylor, John and Betty Stam, Heavenly Man,
Catherine Booth, Suzanne Wesley, Rolland and Heidi Baker, Dennis and Kathy
Balcombe, and Reinhard Bonnke. These men and women are eagles on the earth and
their testimonies encourage me greatly.
There are more eagles of faith in the earth today whose
lives have not been documented—and I hope to write their fascinating stories
for the next generation.
How do you keep your
sanity in our run, run, run world?
The Tree of Life. There are still two trees in the garden of
our hearts. When we need answers or we need help, we can run to knowledge
(information highway) or go to the Tree of Life. Every day I sit beneath that
Tree of Life and give my Lord the first hours of our day. It’s a delight to be
near Him, to journal my questions, to journal his thoughts and sometimes sketch
a picture that comes to mind. And God has a sense of humor—that’s where I was
when I got the poem, “The Me that You See” that I shared earlier. In sorrow or
joy, laughter or tears, He meets me there.
“I come to the garden alone . . . and He walks with me and
He talks with me and He tells me I am His own! And the voice I hear falling on
my ear, none other has ever known!” Glory!
I love that hymn. I
want it sung at my funeral. How do you choose your characters’ names?
For my first China
novel, Daughter of China, I
researched many children from China
who had died in state-run orphanages in the ’80s and ’90s. I decided to choose
a few actual children whose names were posted beside the pictures of starved
children (corpses oftentimes) and commemorate their lives by including them in
What is the
accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Truly my greatest accomplishment is hearing God’s voice. “My
sheep hear my voice and the voice of another they do not follow.” It takes
discipline and passion to still your soul on a daily basis until you can truly
“hear a word behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it.”
My goodness, Hope,
I’m finding that we love many of the same things. The verses you’re sharing are
also some of my favorites. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and
I remembered when my husband and I got married and I prayed,
“Oh, Lord, if I could walk down this aisle like the humble donkey that carried
you into Jerusalem,
I would be so honored. Hide me so they all can see your glorious beauty!”
What is your favorite
Food. Food has started a lot of problems from the Garden of
Eden to the manna and quail. It’s started problems with me, too! I try to stay
out of it but I keep coming back! Haha! I love seafood and the Irish girl in me
gravitates to potatoes in any culinary format.
I made a pot of
potato soup for us. That’s what we’re having for lunch today. What is the
problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome
Time. Writing can be difficult, meticulous work. I began my
first novel when I was pregnant with my third child. Monday through Friday I
put my babies down for a nap for an hour or two and interviewed people who had
been to China
over the phone. After we put the babies to bed at night, I went back to my
writing to check the interview and glean the material I needed for the novel.
And I hadn’t even started writing yet!
I’ll never forget meeting Francine Rivers at Sandy Cove
Christian Writers Conference. I talked to her after she spoke and I asked her,
“Did you write when your children were small?”
“How did you do it?”
“I put their toys on the floor in my office, and they played
while I wrote.”
I was shocked! “Really?”
She smiled. “Really. It is possible.”
I thought if Francine Rivers can do it, then I can, too. So
I learned to glean another hour of writing out of my day when the children were
awake. It’s easier now that they’re growing up and moving on with their lives.
Tell us about the
I was invited to go to China in 2002 and I took my dad
with me. It was the best trip of my life! He was thrilled to preach in the
underground seminaries and I delighted to interview Chinese Christians from the
underground house church movement.
My translator set up a meeting for us in a hotel. All of our
meetings had to be done discreetly and without raising attention of the
Religious Affairs Bureau or Public Security Bureau Police in China.
I stood outside the hotel room where we would meet and saw a
man with a cane walking toward me. My interpreter told me his leg was injured
years ago in prison when he refused to submit to Communist pressure to recant
Inside the hotel room, this man told me the incredible story
of how he and his Christian house church leaders were kidnapped and tortured by
an evil cult in China
called The Eastern Lightning Cult.
He asked me to tell our president and the American people
about this cult and warn them. After my dad and I boarded the flight out of
Hong Kong to go home, the Lord impressed it upon my heart that his story would
be the content of my second novel, and I began writing there on the plane with
paper and pen.
Across the China Sky is that story.
Please give us the
first page of the book.
Chen Liko tugged at the yoke, signaling the old gray water
buffalo to stop. The animal snorted and pointed his horns to the ground.
“That's the last row for today, Old Gray.”
The animal raised his head up and down with pleasure as his
young master rubbed him hard on the neck.
Liko pulled a handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped
away the sweat that had trickled into his eyebrows. Instinctively, he searched
for her. His eyes scanned the watery rice paddies in the distance, then stopped
on a figure still bent over in the murky water. Kwan Mei Lin worked tirelessly,
as always, thrusting green rice shoots into the mud below the water.
Liko was grateful for her presence in the fields. Any moment
of the day he could search for her and draw pleasure just knowing Mei Lin was
next to him in the rice paddies of Tanching, far from the awful prison life she
endured two years before.
He leaned over and unhooked the lines from the yoke and
dropped the heavy wooden plow into the dark soil where it would stay until the
next day’s work. Tired but satisfied, he slapped Old Gray on the backside with
“Back to the shed with you.” Old Gray plodded home beside
Liko, the lead rope slackened between them.
Mei Lin stood then and waved at him, sending a flood of
warmth through his middle. He waved back and pointed toward her family's
The old cowshed was on the hill behind her house, and during
spring planting Mei Lin often met him there to help him bed down Old Gray for
How can readers find
you on the Internet?
Thank you for sharing your new book, and your life, with us today.
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Across the China Sky (Daughter of China Series)
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