Why I Emphasize Ministry in my Christian Fiction

I’ve published seven Christian novels and every one of them has one common thread.

The settings include Taiwan, New Zealand, China, Montana, Idaho, and Minneapolis. I’ve lived many of these places, but not all of them.

Two of them are written for pre-teens, two for teens, and three for adults.

Six of them deal with cross-cultural relationships. The one that doesn’t deals with an unbeliever trying to fit into a world of unbelievers.

Six have some connection to missionaries or missionary kids.

But every one of them has a strong connection to ministry. If you read a Deb Brammer book, you’ll read about ministry. Why do all my books have such a strong link to ministry?

Ministry is who I am.

I grew up in a pastor’s family. As a teen I helped my dad start churches. My husband and I have served as missionaries for forty years, first in Taiwan (1980-1996) and now in New Zealand (1998-today.) I not only feel called to ministry. I can’t image being anything else but a fulltime missionary or pastor’s wife.

I feel a strong passion for ministry.

After all God has done for me, why would I want to do anything else? Serving God and others is the main purpose God put us on earth. While it is possible and necessary for non-vocational Christian workers to serve the Lord, there’s no higher calling than serving the Lord in fulltime ministry. It allows us to take part in drawing people to Christ and helping them grow to maturity. Though the Lord doesn’t call everyone to this kind of life, we need more Christian workers. We need to challenge more people toward vocational ministry.

It’s hard to find ministry in Christian fiction.

When you think about it, isn’t that a bit strange? Scan current Christian novels and you’ll find lots of detectives, law enforcement and search and rescue workers, medical and legal professionals, but few pastors and missionaries. For some reason, Christian stories about Amish abound. Lots of characters are involved with house renovation. Christian celebrity protagonists are fairly common. But books about vocational Christian workers are rare.

Don’t Christian workers read fiction too? Wouldn’t they like to find fiction that resonates with their experience? One of my readers, a pastor’s wife, wrote this review of Broken Windows:

Now THIS is Christian fiction. “Broken Windows” is recognizable to me. These are the situations and conversations that I am familiar with. These are the people that I know and love in churches and Christian homes and colleges all over the nation. Deb weaves through her stories an uncanny way to my own issues I’ve dealt with either in the past or right now.

I believe many Christians would enjoy and profit from Christian fiction about characters involved in ministry. So I include ministry in most of my writing.

When you find vocational ministry in Christian fiction, it can be disappointing.

Stories about pastors seem to feature mega-church pastors involved in moral failure or who are in ministry for the power trip. Stories of current day missionaries usually feature some strong social evil like terrorism, slave trade, kidnapping or hostage taking. As if missionary life isn’t worth reading about unless lives are in danger.

I do understand that writing about church life can be tricky when your readers may come from a broad range of backgrounds. No wonder so many authors write historical novels with only one church in town.
I also understand that authors often aim for the most suspenseful stories they can tell, with life-and-death stakes. True-to-life stories about pastors and missionaries don’t usually fit into the suspense genre.

Personally, I yawn at scenes with car chases and blazing guns. I love books with great characters who I can identify with. And though pastors and missionaries all have their flaws, I like to see them presented as good role models.

In my Art Spotlight Mysteries I featured Jordan, whose parents were missionaries. In Broken Windows, the characters were involved in a kid’s Bible club. In Deja Who? Jordan is involved in a Bible study group for Internationals at Minnesota State University. In I Scream the ministry aspect is not as obvious, but the main characters are active in church and reaching out in a personal ministry to Destiny Champion.

I’m currently working on a ministry series that involves ordinary people on a mission field. I can’t really find anything out there that is like it, but I feel some will want to read about characters who are true-to-life missionaries. If you continue to subscribe to this Book Blast, you’ll hear more about that in the future.

Everyone should be involved in ministry as they serve others as a way of serving God.

Ministry is for everyone. I like these books by other authors because of the sense of personal ministry that is strong in them.

Doesn’t She Look Natural by Angela Hunt (Fairlawn Series)

I love this book because in it Jennifer Graham inherits a funeral home, which is a great situation. Though she initially wants to sell it immediately, she finds that running a funeral home can minister to people in a time of great need.

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray (Chicago World’s Fair Mystery Series)

In this lightly Christian book, rich girl Eloisa hates being in a position where social class defines her and expectations dictate who she can marry. Class expectations sentence her to a life of triviality until she breaks with tradition to work at Hope House, a place where she can make a positive contribution in spite of her social class. She chooses to serve others over serving herself in the privileged lifestyle to which she was born.

Cape Refuge by Terri Blackstock (Cape Refuge Series)

I loved this series because, although it is a mystery series, it deals with people in ministry who make it their business to help people in need.

And now, for my giveaway for this Book Blast:

Truth- Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock (Moonlighters Series)

This well-written mystery features brothers and sisters who come together to find out who killed their sister-in-law. They need to clear their brother’s name and reunite him with a 5-year-old son he has lost in a custody battle. The stakes are high and the resolution is satisfying. It’s a great mystery in its own right, but I especially like it because it deals with forgiveness and serving others. It has a strong Christian message without being preachy.

And the winner is:

Ruth Grosse! Her husband is a pastor in Dillon, Montana. Ruth is an excellent pianist and busy, caring pastor’s wife.

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