When I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ about 20 years ago after being baptized as a teenager, I was on the hunt for Christian materials that would help me to learn about God. The daily devotionals by Our Daily Bread Ministries were probably the first devotional materials that I read. I appreciated the entries because they were short but encompassed the breadth of the Bible in everyday situations. I eventually included different devotionals in my reading to expand my repertoire, but I still consider Our Daily Bread devotionals to be the bedrock in daily devotionals. In fact, I’m not the only who thinks so. Millions of people throughout the world read Our Daily Bread devotionals, and they are provided for FREE!
That’s why I was excited to learn that Our Daily Bread published a Black Church devotional edition, “This Far By Faith: Legacies of the Black Church, for first time ever and in time for Black History Month! “This special edition of Our Daily Bread is a celebration of the rich legacy of God’s faithfulness seen in the heritage of the Black Church. It is by the goodness and power of the Lord that believers everywhere have been able to overcome challenges in life and share God’s love with others. This collection of devotional readings will inspire you to engage in ongoing praise and thanksgiving for what God has done, what He is doing, and what He will do for those who rely on Him and trust in His Word.”
Isn’t the cover of heartwarming? That is how I felt as a little girl at church – filled with joy and free…
One of my writer colleagues Stacy Hawkins Adams was blessed to contribute to “This Far By Faith” and I interviewed her about her contributions and career below.
1. How did you get to be involved in the ‘This Far By Faith: Legacies of the Black Church?’
When I speak and teach at various writer’s conferences around the country, I meet and network with other writers. A writer friend that I met at a conference in California several years ago is a regular writer for ‘Our Daily Bread.’ When this special edition was announced, she and the publication’s other freelancers were asked to share the opportunity with their professional peers. My friend reached out to me and I submitted sample entries, which I’m grateful were accepted. I wrote three entries for the publication and two were accepted – one for Day 7 and one for Day 17.
2. I love how you drew from your experience being in the ‘watch care’ program at a church in Mississippi while you were in college to relate to how God uses people to provide support and encouragement in various situations in the Day 7 entry ‘God’s Care is Rock Solid.’ I had a similar experience at a black church in Athens, Georgia hours away from where I grew up in College Park, Georgia. Tell me about writing that devotional entry and how it relates to Hebrews 13:1-8, the main verses referenced in the devotional.
I’m glad my entry on my watch care experience resonated with you. This devotional relates to Hebrews 13:1-8 because through the watch care experience, that’s what the pastor and the congregation were exemplifying – extending love to “strangers” (or in this case, college students) who were not going to become permanent members, but who needed encouragement, support and wisdom to continue growing as individuals and in faith. This Scripture reflects how Christians should be doing this at every turn, in whatever circumstances we encounter people experiencing. It also shows that God’s love is enduring, wherever we may find ourselves.
3. I also enjoyed your Day 17 entry ‘Answering His Call’ in which you related Queen Esther and Rahab the prostitute from the Bible to former slave Sojourner Truth. As you highlighted, God encourages us to be courageous as noted in Esther. What inspired this entry?
Writers for the ‘This Far By Faith’ special edition were given various topics to explore, and one of mine was courage. I immediately thought of Queen Esther and Rahab as biblical ‘sheroes’ to reference. Yet for Black History Month, I also wanted to reference a figure who was both relevant to the freedom movement and a person of faith. As a traveling minister who devoted her life to seeking freedom and justice for her people, Sojourner Truth fit this bill. I hope that briefly sharing her story is a reminder that wherever we are and whoever we are, we have something to contribute; sometimes we just have to muster the courage to do so.
4. What do you hope readers will understand and or learn by reading your entries?
I hope readers will be reminded that God is faithful in all seasons of our lives and is ready to guide us to our purpose in all kinds of ways and through all kinds of people. We should never question another person’s ability to be used by God and certainly not our own. I hope that both of my devotions show that God is willing to support us in our spiritual growth and call us into service in both simple and significant ways.
5. ‘Our Daily Bread’ devotionals are read by people throughout the world. What does it mean to be involved with this ministry, particularly as it relates to ‘This Far By Faith?’
Like many people, I grew up reading ‘Our Daily Bread,’ and I was always inspired by the entries to live my faith in a relevant way. Being offered the opportunity to write for the publication was an honor in and of itself. Writing for this special Black History edition, focused on the black church, was especially meaningful, as I grew up in church and can attest to the numerous ways that the ministry leaders, youth leaders and congregation members nurtured me and helped me grow.
6. You have written 10 books including nine novels as well as a non-fiction book, not to mention the fact that you worked as a newspaper reporter for 14 years before becoming a book author. What exciting writing project or projects are you working on currently?
As you can tell, I love all kinds of writing! Whether I’m writing for a secular publication or a faith-based one, I view the stories and the information I share as an opportunity to help readers feel encouraged, inspired or better equipped to make informed decisions, with less judgment, about others.
I am currently writing for an inspirational blog that I started almost a year ago, www.LifeUntapped.com, through which I encourage and empower women readers to aim for and pursue their best lives, and I allow other women to share their stories of growth and transformation.
I also am doing more essay writing and freelance writing on occasion for various national publications, including the Huffington Post.
I plan to write another novel in a couple of years, but in the meantime, I’m fine-tuning a couple of short stories and reading a lot of fiction and nonfiction, to stretch grow as a writer.
I also am mentoring aspiring writers through an online membership group I launched several years ago called Focused Writers (www.authorinyou.com/FocusedWriters). I love connecting with new writers in this way and cheering them on to publication, whether it through a blog they’re launching or a book they’re trying to birth. The group also includes some newly published authors who are seeking guidance on marketing.
7. You have assisted many authors in your ‘Author in You’ mentorship program. What is your biggest tip to become a successful author?
It has been wonderful to watch writers I’ve mentored go on to publication – either traditional or self-published. At least fivewriters I’ve mentored over the past few years have had their books published, and a few others are nearing that goal. Several bloggers who have sought my assistance are thriving as well.
Regarding how to become a successful author, I guess I’d have to say this depends on how you define success. For some, it’s simply being published once; for others it’s having a certain number of books published; for many it’s winning certain awards; and for others it’s making a certain amount of money from book sales. So success will vary author to author.
I believe that anyone who has published a book and presented it in the best form possible to the world – well written, well edited and well packaged – is a success, especially if achieving this milestone is a long-term goal.
I’m just thankful to be published and widely read (though I’d love the readership to grow), and it’s a joy to write words that resonate with others. I often feel a sense of reward when I hear from readers that something I’ve written has helped them heal a relationship, love themselves more, see another person’s perspective or consider God’s grace as available to them. It’s humbling and exciting to know that the words flowing through me can have that kind of impact. I’m grateful to be one of God’s vessels.
To order “This Far By Faith: Legacies of the Black Church” which is an awesome resource for a church during Black History Month, go to ourdailybread.org. To learn more about Stacy Hawkins Adams, go to stacyhawkinsadams.com.