Today my guest is Jack Popjes:
Jack started writing stories for missionary newsletters during the decades he and his wife were Bible translators in Brazil. For the past twenty years, he has blogged weekly on missions, church, and Christian spirituality. His current blog is INsights & OUTbursts. He has print published three books and e-published two books of story based articles—all selected from his blogs. His story telling ability makes him a popular church and conference speaker. He served as President of Wycliffe Canada for six years, and as director of Wycliffe Caribbean for three years.
Tell us about your upbringing and early memories
I grew up on Nazi occupied Netherlands. Some of my most vivid memories are of scavenging firewood, even from German army trucks, helping my Mom hide Dad under the floor when soldiers came to abduct men to work in slave labour camps in Germany, and, of course, the day Canadian soldiers rumbled into our city in their tanks and trucks to liberate us. When I was twelve years old, our whole family moved to western Canada to start a new life.
Describe what led you to accept God’s gift of salvation. How old were you?
I grew up in a Bible reading, church going home, but personal salvation was never spoken of. When I was fourteen years old, my family was invited to attend a free concert which turned out to be an evangelistic crusade with the Janz Quartet. I heard them singing the old time spiritual On the Jericho Road and recognized this as poetry speaking about the road of life. When they sang the line “…there’s room for just …” my mind filled in “just one” since that had been my experience in my life and upbringing, having to slug it out by myself. But when I heard “…there’s room for just two…” I had no idea who that other person would be. Then when they sang, “Just Jesus and you,” I shouted on the inside, “Yes, that’s what I need!” When the invitation was given I nearly ran towards the front and a counselor led me to Jesus. My family had no idea what had just happened since they didn’t know as much English as I did.
When did you first become interested in writing?
I was a terrible writer, that is, I have terrible hand/eye coordination and when I write something only God and I know what it says. Sometimes a week later on God knows what it says. I spent hundreds of endless hours of forced labour writing lines, in a completely useless effort to learn how to write cursive, or even print, legibly and consistently. My head was full of stories, descriptions, dialogues and interesting characters, but I could not get much of that down on paper until I bought an Olivetti portable typewriter in my first year in college at age 19. Then, finally, I was able to share with others what had been in my head all those years.
How would you define a successful writer?
Someone who writes a paragraph or even a sentence, then reads and says, “Wow! This is good! Who wrote that? Was that me? Thank you, God, for helping me to write this piece!” My motto is the line from Thoreau, “Fame cannot tempt the bard, who’s famous with his God, nor laurel him reward, who has his Maker’s nod.”
What advice would you give a beginning writer?
Keep a daily diary of your actions, describe your relationships, and explore your thoughts, dreams and longings. Write everything you can, your plans, your prayers, your concerns. And write letters, via email, at least, but occasionally also on paper.
Tell us about your current work in progress.
Besides my weekly blog, I am writing my autobiography. Thus far, I’m collecting stories I have already written about myself, and putting them into chronological order, then adding to them. This started when my grandchildren asked me to tell them “Hansje stories,” that is, stories about my childhood in the Netherlands when my name was Hansje.
How has being a Christian impacted your life path?
A huge difference. From living hesitantly in the fear of dying to the confidence that I am immortal until my work on earth is done. From worrying about what people thought of me to living in the sure knowledge that I am a child of God, loved by the Creator of the Universe. From being overwhelmed with problems, to recognizing that my greatest problem, that of my restored relationship to God, has been solved. All the rest of the problems are mere details.
What epitaph would you like on your tombstone?
I’m not sure what I want, maybe, “He had his Maker’s nod.”
but what I do not want is, “Here lies Jack. He meant well.”
If you’d like your own copy of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers, you can purchase it at http://mybook.to/ChristianWriters1. Many of the contributing authors are currently participating in a blog hop. I invite you to follow along:
Ruth L. Snyder http://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/ Monday, September 14th
Brenda Wood http://heartfeltdevotionals.com Wednesday, September 16th
Janet Sketchley http://janetsketchley.ca/tenacity-blog/ Friday, September 18th
Jack Popjes http://www.jackpopjes.com/category/blog/ Monday, September 21st
Kimberley Payne http://kimpayne.wordpress.com Wednesday, September 23rd
Marcia Laycock http://www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca/ Friday, September 24th
Steph Nickel https://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com Monday, September 28th
Sally Meadows http://sallymeadows.com/blog Wednesday, September 30th
Tracy Krauss http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com Friday, October 2nd
Glynis Belec http://www.glynisbelec.com/blog.html Monday, October 5th