December 28, 2012
For regular readers of Behind the Books, I ask your patience: this post is a bit of a tangent. I interrupt our regular conversation (just this once) to publish details of a contest we're running during InterVarsity's Urbana 12 student missions conference this week. Even if you're not one of the 18,000 attendees in St. Louis, you're certainly welcome to follow along!Continue reading "[Extra] "Mission IVPossible" at Urbana"
Posted by Jon Boyd at 12:51 PM
December 1, 2011
Thanks to our IVP Books print publicist, Suanne Camfield for this post!
It was late Wednesday night when we finally met. After circling the airport three times, I spotted him in black dress pants and a dark winter coat. After months of planning, plotting, strategizing, exchanging emails, and conference-calling, Daniel Walker, author of God in a Brothel: An Undercover Journey into Sex Trafficking and Rescue, had finally touched down in Chicago.
I was busting at the seams.
The Anti Trafficking Tour that had begun in California exactly one week earlier was already a success. Kicking off with the Global Forum on Human Trafficking and followed by college and church events, crowds of all ages were responding to Daniel's message about modern-day slavery. But while my coworkers and I had heard great reports from the field (our online publicist Adrianna Wright, who had accompanied Daniel to California, told us, "He's pretty much a rock star"), I don't think any of us were prepared to hear Daniel's story firsthand.
We had invited Daniel to "IVP Day" --our annual, offsite company-wide gathering. After a few jetlagged hours of sleep, Daniel stood at a podium in front of all ninety-plus of us and began with a warm New Zealand "G'Day", making the room ripple with laughter. It wasn't long, however, before his comments turned serious: today, more than two million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry. As an undercover investigator, Daniel had rescued hundreds of these children, but couldn't possibly save them all. His encounters with girls like Maria, Paks and Jenni were enough to make a person clap in triumph at the same time she weeps in disgust. Hope and despair, all wrapped up in the same twisted story.
Maybe that's why, after Daniel finished speaking, our staff lined up to shake his hand and offer their own word of thanks. It's not everyday we get to see the fruits of our publishing labor, a tangible reminder that what we do--behind computers and marketing plans and spreadsheets and cover designs and packaging peanuts and forklifts--matters. What we do actually makes a difference.
Over the course of the next ten days, I listened to Daniel's story another dozen times. From Chicago to New York, in radio and magazine interviews, on city campuses and in suburban churches, even in the halls of MSNBC, I heard Daniel advocate for young girls, boys and women with clarity, passion and conviction. I watched crowds at every stop swipe at their tears and gasp in disbelief, and even though by the end l had heard the talk so often that I could anticipate each word, at every stop I found myself doing the same thing. I witnessed firsthand what happens when kingdom people catch a vision for the least of these.
Through our Anti-Trafficking Tour, in partnership with Compassion International and Hagar International, nearly a hundred children vulnerable to being sold into slavery were sponsored by individuals and families like you. Because of Compassion's extraordinary prevention program, these children will not fall prey to the wiles of human traffickers. In addition, Hagar International collected hundreds of emails from those interested in the difficult but critical work of restoring rescued victims physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The tour was the first of its kind for IVP. It had its ups and downs; details got rearranged, directions misconstrued, hotel reservations mysteriously lost and meetings cancelled and rescheduled. But when it was all said and done, Daniel gave more than twenty interviews, spoke to nearly a thousand people and--always a perk for a publisher--we sold a lot of books. More importantly though, the Anti-Trafficking Tour helped all of us here at IVP embrace and live out one of our core values: "to influence, engage and shape the university world and our contemporary culture for the sake of Jesus Christ and his kingdom in the world."It's why we love being behind the books.
August 29, 2011
I read an article today about a large sex-trafficking ring that was busted right here in Chicago. The descriptions of the crimes perpetrated against women and girls, in some cases as young as 12, by these evildoers both broke my heart and enraged me. Sometimes we Christians think anger is unchristian—an emotion we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel. But God kindles a righteous indignation in the face of such injustice. So should we. And it should lead us to act.
For a while after I read the article I felt powerless to respond. I’m not in law enforcement. I’m not an undercover investigator. What can I do? But then I realized I was forgetting a major tool at my disposal, one that is uniquely available to me because of my job here at InterVarsity Press. I can use the power of words to increase awareness and support others who are at the front lines of the abolitionist battle. Daniel Walker is just such a person who has worked in the front lines and now strives to tell the world what he saw there. God in a Brothel: An Undercover Journey into Sex Trafficking and Rescue is Daniel’s firsthand account of the horrors of the sex-trafficking industry.
One reviewer said this about the book: “Most books I’ve read from Christian publishers are ‘nice’… God in a Brothel is not one of those books.” But then, sex trafficking is not a nice topic, is it? God in a Brothel isn’t nice. It disturbed me significantly, as well it should have. But like most books that can rouse us from our “nice” slumber, it is powerful and uncomfortable, and it has the potential to literally change the world.
In it you’ll meet Daniel Walker, an ex-undercover agent who has courageously shared his story of infiltrating the multi-billion dollar global sex industry. It is a difficult journey into this world, and even more difficult to read Daniel’s personal experience of costly discipleship, agonizing failure and unlikely redemption. Gripping in its realism and yet thoroughly overlaid with holy hope, Walker’s book simultaneously rips open the veil over this dark world and issues a call for God-fearers around the world to rise up, speak out and take action.
It’s true. I’m not busting through the doors of brothels in east asia—or here in Chicago—to liberate girls from slavery. I work in a nice office in a nice suburb with nice people. But I do have the power to make a difference by exposing this horrific problem and supporting the people at the front lines like Daniel with my prayers, my money and my mouth. I hope you’ll consider reading God in a Brothel to learn more and consider how you’ll take your own stand.
There are many organizations working to fight trafficking in the US and around the world. Please learn more about them and prayerfully consider how you can support their work. You can make an eternal difference.
Posted by Rebecca Larson at 4:07 PM
May 29, 2007
At the 2004 Asian American staff conference for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, ministry coordinator Paul Tokunaga talked about all the recently published IVP books that had been written by Asian American authors - Kingdom Come by Allen Wakabayashi, Secure in God's Embrace by Ken Fong, Get the Word Out by John Teter, The Kingdom of God LifeGuide Bible study by Greg Jao, Grieving a Suicide by Al Hsu (yup, that's me), and Paul's own Invitation to Lead. That was quite a list, and a definite increase over recent years.
Then I realized that all of those authors were men.
Not a single female author was on the list. That fact was painfully obvious to everyone in the room, especially since we have far more Asian American women on InterVarsity staff than AA men.
After the session, Nikki Toyama came running up to me and said something like, "The authors were all men. Is IVP looking for Asian women authors too?" I said, "Yes. Let's talk."
We then sat together at lunch, and I think Tracey Gee was at the same table, and we talked about what a book by and for Asian American women might look like. Two months later I was in Los Angeles for a conference. While there, I connected with Tracey and talked further about the book idea.
Over the next two years, Nikki and Tracey assembled a pan-Asian writing team and embarked on a first-of-its-kind effort. They stretched beyond traditional East Asian demographics of Chinese, Japanese and Korean heritage and included coauthors from Southeast Asian (Filipina) and South Asian (Pakistani) backgrounds. They also included the voices of their biracial, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and adopted sisters.
Their book, More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith, was published in November 2006, just in time for the Urbana 06 student missions convention, where 29 percent of the 22,000 attendees were of Asian descent. I was thrilled that apart from the featured books of the day, More Than Serving Tea was our #2 bestselling book of the convention, outselling even Knowing God and Too Busy Not to Pray.
As society continues to diversify, the multiethnic dimension of IVP's publishing program becomes increasingly important. So I am always on the lookout for books by people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, writing on ethnic-specific topics as well as general topics for all audiences. Because we want to equip the church to serve our diverse twenty-first-century context, our books and authors need to reflect the multiethnic diversity of the global church and kingdom of God.
May 4, 2007
One of the things I most enjoy about my job is receiving copies of translated books. Every other day or so I'll find a slightly beat-up package or a small stack of foreign books on my desk. As IVP's rights manager, I have the honor of opening these packages and sending copies of each translation to the author(s).
Recently we received copies of the Romanian translation of Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World by Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm, the Indonesian translation of How to Read Proverbs by Tremper Longman III, the Russian translation of Just Business by Alexander Hill, the Korean translation of Seeking God's Hidden Face by Cecil Murphey and Swahili translations of a number of LifeGuide Bible Studies.
I enjoy seeing the titles and covers different publishers use. For example, the Swahili name for the LifeGuide Bible Study series is "Safari Ya Biblia," which I assume means something like Bible Safari. That is quite different from "LifeGuide," but it certainly conveys the idea of encountering and discovering God, and it makes sense for an East African audience. The cover of one translation was so striking I showed it to some of the folks in our hallway. The book is about how God can use crises in our lives to transform us, and the cover pictures an upside-down turtle in the middle of a highway, stretching his neck in an attempt to flip over. It's a striking image and very different from the cover of the English edition.
These translation copies are also encouraging reminders of the ongoing ministry of our books throughout the world. One author, who is a little introverted and prefers not to travel, mentioned how encouraging it is that her books are available in places she will never visit. Some books continue to see new life as they are translated into different languages even after the English edition has gone out of print or the author has passed away.
I'm sure I'll get another slightly beat up package again soon. I look forward to opening it and being reminded about how God is using the book in another part of the world.
Posted by Ellen Hsu at 7:59 AM