When I think about the impressive collection of Nigerian writers who have made significant impacts on the secular segment of the global literary scene, I ask, “Who will wake the sleeping giants within the ranks of their Christian counterparts?”
The BETHEL LITERARY INITIATIVE (BETHLIN) is a response to this challenge. The mission is: “To discover, network and bolster the development of gifted Christian writers, and create a comprehensive, first-rate and wholesomely rewarding Christian literary and publishing landscape in Nigeria.” By “Christian writers,” I mean writers whose works are either overtly Christian or are consciously written with a Christian/biblical worldview. This also makes a distinction between true writers and book authors, who are sometimes speakers or prominent personalities whose messages have been transcribed or ghost-written.
As the Scriptures reveal, there are not only “diversities of gifts” but also “diversities of operations” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). Though two are called to minister, one is particularly equipped to speak, while the other is more adapted to write. The Nigerian Church has experienced some great exploits in the ministry of the spoken word, but that of the written word remains largely underdeveloped and underexploited, notwithstanding that this particular ministry holds the key to the most profound development of the total man (1 Timothy 2:15).
The Christian literary gifts are here among us, though latent in some quarters. The challenge is in rising up to the task of doing what it takes to discover, fully exploit and reap the huge benefits of this great spiritual resource. Indeed, one of the Scriptures that has been providentially used to spur me on with the BETHLIN vision is Joshua 18:3: “And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?”
At the core of the BETHLIN vision is the publication of Bethel Digest, a handy magazine envisioned as a powerful and effective vehicle for the ministry of the written word, conceptually tailored after the world-famous Reader’s Digest. Also within the purview of the Initiative is the “Bethel Reading Campaign,” targeted at inculcating the reading habit in Nigerian Christians, for this, I repeat, is the key to the most profound development of the total man in preparation for “all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Indeed, BETHLIN is a noble kingdom venture that promises to profit not only Christian writers and the ministry of the written word, but other willing partakers also. Truly, “If [we] be willing and obedient, [we] shall eat the good of [this] land” (Isaiah 1:19).