Discover New Worlds

Kid reading the Book. EducationBooks take you to new worlds. Your mind tramps through new places and situations, but your feet don’t get muddy. When you read my books you walk through some of the same fascinating cultures and sub-cultures I have encountered as I grew up in American, lived 16 years in Taiwan, and now live in New Zealand.

During my 35 years of writing for Christian publication I’ve seen the publishing world turned upside down. In Taiwan I reached out to Chinese people who knew little about Christianity with ESL Bible studies. In New Zealand I’ve needed to tailor church programs and puppet scripts to fit a small mission church in various stages. In recent years I entered a new world of cooking as I learned to cook gluten-free recipes for my celiac husband. I want to use this website to share these resources with others. I hope you’ll find them helpful.

You may also want to follow my weekly blog in which I talk about subjects of interest to writers and people in ministry. I hope these posts will bring hope and help to others in ministry.

Planning Ahead for Christmas at Church

Christmas wreath.By September most churches have started to plan their Christmas program. If you’re looking for a program which can be done by a small church, check out some of mine here. All of these have been designed by me for our mission church ministry. Most are free. You can feel free to adapt them to meet your church’s need.

I offer many free resources on this website and I don’t ask for anything in return. I don’t even make you enter your email address because I hate it when other websites do that. If, however, you don’t just download, but actually use one of my programs and it works well for you, you could always purchase one of my books to say thank you.

Maybe you have a Christmas party or celebration instead of a program or in addition to a program. Here are three party game ideas that work well for church.

Christmas Relay

by Deb Brammer

Choose two or three teams. Each team chooses team members to do various Christmas tasks down and back. First team done wins.

  • Shine like a star. (Carries a star to the end. Sings 1 verse of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” runs back.)
  • Follow like a shepherd. (2 people. Sheep rides on scooter, trolley, or skateboard on his knees down and back. Shepherd runs beside him wearing bathrobe.)
  • Sing like an angel. (Angel, wearing wings, runs down, sings “Away in a Manger” or “Silent Night,” one verse by memory, runs back.)
  • Ride the camel. (2 people. Smaller person rides on the back of larger one. Camel can run on two legs.)
  • Ring the bells. (Runs down ringing a bell, sings “Joy to the World,” one verse, runs back ringing a bell.)
  • Let your light shine. (2 people. Person with matches lights candle. Both run down and back. If the candle goes out, the candle bearer must stop immediately and wait for the candle lighter to re-light it. Candle must be lit as candle bearer crosses the finish line.)

Right/Left Christmas Game

Here’s a creative game that works well for church. Everyone brings a gift to give away that will work for about anyone. During the narration everyone passes the gift on his lap right or left according to the story. At the end of the story you keep the one in your lap.

Ring a Bell Game

From time to time throughout the duration of the party, the leader rings a bell. Every time the bell rings, people should listen to the leader. Each time the one who best fits the description the leader is reading gets a prize.

Christmas BellI am looking for…

  1. the person with the birthday closest to Christmas.
  2. the person who can say “Merry Christmas” in the most different languages.
  3. the person who has been an angel the most times in various Christmas programs.
  4. the person who will travel the most kilometres for Christmas Day dinner.
  5. the first person who correctly lists all twelve gifts in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
  6. the person who has mailed out the most Christmas cards so far this year.
  7. the person who is wearing the most red and/or green.
  8. the person who has spent the most Christmases in another country.
  9. the person who put up their Christmas tree the earliest.


[image courtesy of iofoto and lorelyn medina/deposit photos]



Taiwan, the Forgotten China of Contemporary Missions

Last week we looked at the book Careful Enough? and the kind of ministry possible in China today. As many of you know, my husband and I spent 16 years serving in Taiwan. I want to start this blog with an article by Matt Hanna, a former co-worker of ours. He talks about the great opportunities for ministry in Taiwan today.

HannasThe People’s Republic of China has become the new destination of choice for thousands of missionary workers intent on carrying the gospel to a nation finally awakening from its communist slumber.  But there is another China which has been all but forgotten by today’s missions strategists.  The Republic of China, also called Taiwan, claims a place of strategic importance to the greater cause of Chinese missions.

The door of Great Commission opportunity cracked open in Mainland China nearly 20 years ago.  Since that time the silent cry of a billion souls has attracted first a trickle, then a stream, now a flood of missionary laborers desiring to carry the gospel to them.  As one of the last great mission frontiers of our century, China has held a magnetic fascination for a generation of young people desiring to follow in the footsteps of Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Goforth, Gladys Aylward and other 19th and 20th Century China missionary pioneers.

Although traditional methods of missionary outreach and local church ministry are still largely denied to these new pioneers, they have utilized a whole portfolio of creative methods to carry the gospel to nearly every corner of China.  They have gone as English teachers, university professors, businessmen, doctors, and social workers.  Others have itinerated, taking short but frequent trips into China to provide biblical and theological training to an expanding indigenous house church movement.

But contemporaneous with that burgeoning of missionary activity in China has been a steady erosion of missionary focus on Taiwan.  My personal observation suggests that the number of evangelical missionaries in Taiwan has declined by approximately 50% during the last 20 years.

Although this recent decline of Taiwan as a mission field is understandable for many reasons, it is nonetheless tragic.  It is understandable because the immense spiritual need of Mainland China is so overwhelming.  Furthermore, the Church’s interest in Mainland China as a mission field is paralleled by, and in many ways fueled by, the corresponding secular fascination with China as a rising political, economic, and social force of the 21st Century.  Every global corporation in the Western world is actively pursuing the potential profit represented by China’s emerging market.  For this reason programs of study for Chinese language and culture are springing up in secular universities and colleges all over America, and even many high schools are offering Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language.

A further factor in the decline of missionary interest in Taiwan has been the extreme difficulty and slowness of the work in Taiwan.  Missionaries have been working in Taiwan for more than one hundred years, but results have been relatively minor in comparison to other fields.  Ancestor worship, idolatry, and other cultural and religious barriers have kept conversion figures low.  Also, as established denominational churches have slowly become indigenized, there has been an erosion in doctrinal and practical purity among their church members. The entrance of theological liberalism, neo-orthodoxy, new evangelicalism, and the charismatic movement have blunted the effectiveness of these churches to evangelize their own people.

But all of this may now be changing.  A new wind seems to be blowing.  As we have ministered in the metropolis of Kaohsiung for the last eight years, we have experienced a completely unprecedented ability to reach new people with the gospel and have seen steady church growth based on sound biblical principles.  One explanation seems to be the changing demographics within our own city where young urban professionals are displaying a new openness to seriously consider the claims of the gospel without the hindering influences, barriers, and pressures which previously kept them away.  It now appears that in Kaohsiung, at least, and perhaps in all of Taiwan, there is a new door of opportunity opening to both sow and reap.

Finally, Taiwan stands in a strategic position to become a new launching pad for the gospel to reach into Mainland China.  Trained, challenged, equipped, and sent, Taiwan’s Christians could easily cross the few miles which separate Taiwan from China and carry the gospel to them without needing to cross barriers of race, culture or language. As you consider the needs of Chinese people world-wide, don’t overlook the opportunities in Taiwan.

Thank you, Matt Hanna, for allowing me to use your article in my blog. Art and I visited Matt and Marla Hanna in 2010 and were delighted to see their work in Kaoshiung flourishing. Here’s a link to Matt’s original article.

Reader, after these articles about China and Taiwan, you might be wondering how ministries in the two different countries compare.

 China and Taiwan share history, culture, language, food, music, and many other things. One main difference is that Taiwan enjoys freedom of religion. Missionaries are free to go there openly, start ministries, and invite Chinese to become a part of those ministries. They can share the Gospel freely both publicly and on a personal basis. On the other hand, since Chinese from China haven’t had much religious teaching, now that the government is allowing more freedom, those in China have a real interest in Christianity. Many Chinese in Taiwan face strong pressure from family and society not to become Christians.  In both China and Taiwan, however, some Chinese people are eager to hear the Gospel.

My book, Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World, gives an accurate picture of missionary life in Taiwan. The book was released by Bob peanut_butter_friends2Jones University Press twenty years ago and Taiwan has progressed in many ways, but the book still accurately portrays most aspects of life in Taiwan.

Buy the book here.

Read the first chapter here.

Find discussion questions here.


Kindle and Nook Price Reduction of Brammer Books!

For the next couple of months I’m reducing the Kindle and Nook prices on several of my books to make them more competitive in the e-book market. This is a great time to download these books to your e-reader or device.

Broken Windows cover thumbnailBroken Windows             

Jordan Axtell, an aspiring artist searching for a new beginning, escapes to Idaho.  He hopes to put failure behind him and carve a respectable career out of the rock hard art community. But a black shadow girl with a red balloon warns him that his past refuses to stay where it belongs.

Strange things disappear and peculiar crimes point to Jordan’s guilt. Meanwhile, Alison distracts him from his goals. Zophie drives him crazy with her expectations and questions. A Bible Zone boy pulls at his heartstrings, and his roommate forces him to enter a new world of wheelchairs.

Has the most annoying graffiti artist on the planet followed Jordan to Idaho? Or is a copycat intentionally committing weird misdemeanors just to ruin his reputation? Jordan must find the identity of the perpetrator or lose his integrity as an artist. His new friends try to help, but with friends like his, his enemies can go on coffee break.

Broken Windows is the first book in the “Keyhole Mysteries” series. I’m working on the second book in this light hearted series now.

 Buy Broken Windows for Kindle at $2.99.

Buy Broken Windows for Nook at $3.00.

zEdges cover with awardEdges of Truth

Mary Weaver tries to save the life of 11-month-old Melissa Mathes, but the baby dies after being in Mary’s care. The autopsy reveals severe head injuries that were inflicted 7 to 10 days before the baby’s death, but Mary is accused of first-degree murder.

Steve Brennecke, a young lawyer and a friend of Mary’s, takes the case. He is convinced of Mary’s innocence and sets out to clear Mary’s name and keep this young mother out of prison.

Mary’s case splits the medical community. One group of doctors, eager to stamp out child abuse, insists the baby had to be shaken and slammed during the time Mary was alone with her. Another group believes scientific evidence points away from Mary. The jury doesn’t know what to think.

Dr. Ruth Ramsey calls this true story “a frightening wake-up call for anyone who is ever involved in childcare.” Edges of Truth is an account of justice gone wrong, the fight to clear an innocent woman’s name, and the community who supported her. It answers the question: “Where is God when life ceases to make sense?”

Just last week an Irish nanny made headline news in a similar case where the prosecutor dropped murder charges after a medical examiner reversed her findings. She changed the cause of death from “abusive head trauma” (shaken baby syndrome) to “undetermined cause.” Steve Brennecke continues to get calls from reporters of leading US newspapers about the role Mary Weaver’s case plays in the shaken baby syndrome controversy today.

Buy Edges of Truth for Kindle for $2.99.

Buy Edges of Truth for Nook  for $3.00.

zcoverISurvivedI Survived!

I Survived! gives a personal, inside view of these five Bible characters who survived disaster:  Jeremiah, Jonah, Joseph, Paul, and Job. It uses examples from the Mary Weaver story in every chapter.

These studies will help you think through questions like these:

  • If God is in control, why is my world a disaster?
  • If God hates unfairness, how should I respond to it?
  • If God controls everything, why doesn’t life make more sense?
  • If God wants me to succeed, why does he make life so hard?
  • If God is good, why does he allow senseless suffering?

Buy I Survived! from Kindle for $0.99.


Author Interview–Dillon Forbes

Careful Enough?Today we are interviewing Dillon Forbes, author of Careful Enough?, a fiction book for teens. In the book, Daniel has the opportunity to move to China during his senior year of high school to work with a Christian ministry. In China, Daniel finds many restrictions on expressing his faith. He can only say words like “Christian” to trusted friends. But he soon discovers that there is a fine line between being cautious and being afraid of his faith.

 Q: Dillon, what made you want to write a fictional book for teens about Christian work in China?

A: That’s a great question, and thanks for asking me to share about the book.  The book came out in 2008 when the Olympics came to Beijing. That was a moment for the world to be fascinated by China, and an opportunity to build bridges between China and the rest of the world. At the same time, Christian ministry was already taking place all over China in some exciting ways and places. I felt that many Christians outside of China might not be aware of what was taking place in China, in terms of local, meaningful ministry going on there. I also had a burden to help readers imagine what it could be like to do ministry in a non-traditional missionary field, like China.

 Q: This book is written for teens. Do you feel adults could enjoy the story as well?

A: I aimed at an upper teen age level as I wrote the book. Teens can identify with leaving a high school life in America for a very different one in China. At the same time, this book clearly and accurately depicts the life of a foreigner doing ministry in China. I believe anyone who is interested in learning more about ministry in China could enjoy the book and profit from it.

 Q: As an author, I know it’s important to share with my readers on the internet as well as in books. Why can’t we find more information about you and your ministry on the internet?

A: Right. I decided to use the name Dillon Forbes to publish this book, but that’s actually a pen name for me and some others who helped me in writing the book. Each of those who contributed to the book has personal experience working with Chinese people. We decided to use a pen name, because we felt that using actual names might put some existing ministries in China at risk. We wanted to avoid that. Things seem to be fairly stable for Christians who work in China now. So if we had to write the book again today, maybe we would do something different. But we decided to use a pen name.

Q: What are the challenges of using a pen name for a book as opposed using your real names?

A: I have to say that promoting the book becomes very difficult and is the number one problem. Normally people expect an author to have a website, Facebook, and other forms of social media. But when we decided not to share specific information about the author and situations behind the book, that made traditional kinds of promotion almost impossible.

 Q: Of course, your book is written as fiction, but is Careful Enough? really true to life?

A: Yes, I would say that Careful Enough? gives an accurate picture of one kind of ministry that is being done in China today.  It is true to life for the hundreds, possibly thousands of Christians who are doing that kind of ministry in China today. What Daniel is able to see and do in China is reflective of what dozens of young people I know have been able to see and do in China in recent years. Now, there are many different kinds of ministry taking place in China, some by Chinese believers and some by foreigners coming in. The more I experience China ministry, the more surprised I am about seemingly endless opportunities to serve, teach, witness, and help people in China.

 Q: Can you expand on that? What kind of ministry is possible in China today?

A: Some people over there do evangelism, which is something foreigners can often do in conjunction with teaching at a Chinese school or university.  Some do various forms of Christian teaching and discipleship among Chinese believers. Some help with church planting and translation work. Leadership training has grown a lot over the years as well. And I’ve heard of people doing music ministry, movie making, book writing, creative craft manufacturing for Christians –like making flannel graph boards and things like that. So you are really just limited by your imagination and God’s working in your life as to what you might be able to do in China today. I might add as personal advice that just because something can be done in China doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing to do there. I mean, I’ve heard of people dropping thousands of printed tracts out of planes over Chinese villages, and usually that kind of behaviour is not only going to get you into trouble really fast, it can also produce a kind of resentment against Christians for making such a big mess to clean up. So, like everything we do for the Lord, you need to do ministry in ways that are responsible and show good use of wisdom.

 Q: In the book you mention the role of humor in Chinese ministry. Can you explain that?

A: Sure. Doing ministry in any of the “creative access” nations in the world can be stressful. You can’t just say whatever you want. You need to be careful to do ministry in a way that doesn’t force the government to take action against you. So there is a constant carefulness about your life that can cause tension to build up. We have found that looking for points of humor in our life and ministry can help to reduce that tension.

Q: Dillon, what positive differences have you experienced in Chinese culture as opposed to Western culture?

A: Well that’s an interesting question, since different cultures have things that we as Christ followers and people in general would identify as “positive” aspects. But, to focus on positive aspects of Chinese culture in contrast with life in the West, I would say that relationships are much more valued in China than they sometimes are in the West. In the West, time is all important. We want to get our list of jobs done each day. We have fancy apps and devices to help us save time and get everything done. Now, I’m not saying they don’t have the same smartphones or devices in China, but they use them in different ways. Making time for people and relationships is still very much a part of daily life in China, which is something that most Westerners would agree is often lacking in our societies. It’s not all that uncommon for foreigners to be befriended by Chinese contacts in China and enter into all kinds of interesting relationships with people there, even from very early in their stay there, which is something Daniel also experiences in the book.

 Q:  Dillon, what resources can you recommend for people who are interested in learning more about ministry in China?

A: Sure, I know there is a nice DVD presentation about China ministry called: No Regrets, No Retreat put out in a series called, “Dispatches from the Front.” That DVD gives people a basic introduction to ministry in China just over an hour. They have a free trailer online, which you might link your readers to see.

Trailer for “Dispatches from the Front” (DVD series).

I would also highly recommend something called ZGBriefs, which sends out a weekly email citing a ton of helpful online articles about China. Their topics include everything from politics and religion, to daily life and language learning. The people who send the emails have a lot of experience working in China.

 ZGBriefs blog.

Thanks, Dillon Forbes, for allowing us to share this exclusive interview.

Buy Careful Enough? here.

Read the first chapter and find discussion questions here.

Next week we’ll look at Chinese ministry in Taiwan.