During the month of October, a group of eleven authors, who either live in Africa or are rooted in this amazing continent, are teaming up for an exciting adventure. We're going on an Africa Book Safari! Together, we will discover some of the rich, diverse colors and nuances of Africa through stories, devotions, and memoirs, all set in Africa. What's more, because we are writers, we would like to invite you all to come along with us! We will be traveling together in a blog hop through ten blog posts featuring fiction and non-fiction books, all centered in Africa. Our Safari Guide will be interviewing each of us, and we invite you to listen in as we chat about ourselves and our books. You will find the interviews on the author's own sites, as well as posted on one another's blogs or websites. So come along and join in the fun! And here comes our guide who will be taking us on our safari. Safari Guide: Hi! I believe you are Lisa Harris, is that correct? Lisa: It sure is. And you, I presume, are going to be our Tour Leader for this great time. What should we call you? Safari Guide: You can call me Mr. Africa! Are you all comfortable? Please buckle up your seat-belts. Starting today, I plan to show you all different angles to this continent. As our large safari landrover moves away from the buildings and
heads into the wilds of Africa, Mr. Africa swings in his seat to face me.
Safari Guide / Mr. Africa: So, Lisa, tell me a bit about yourself. Have you always lived in Africa? Lisa: No, I was born in the United States and first visited Kenya when I was in college. After that summer, I knew I had to return. My husband and I spent a couple years in West Africa, then later, after we had our three children, we moved to South Africa. We have worked with churches in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and then eventually moved to Mozambique where we currently live and work as missionaries. We’ve spent a total of almost twenty years in Africa and raised our kids there, so the continent will always hold a piece of our hearts no matter where we are! Mr. Africa: And what family do you have? Lisa: I have three college age kids, two sons and a daughter. Our youngest graduated from a boarding school in Kenya this year and for the first time in eight years, I have all three kids living on the same continent in the US. Mr. Africa: Lisa, did you always want to be a writer? Or what prompted you to start writing? Lisa: I actually always wanted to be an author. My mother tells me I used to dictate stories to her before I could even write. When our first child was a baby, I finally decided to start writing and finished my first book. And I’ve been writing ever since, for over twenty years! Mr. Africa: What genre do you write in, and why? Lisa: I’ve written some Christian romance, but now I write romantic suspense and medical thrillers. I love seeing justice served and the good guys win. I also love seeing God use an ordinary person for something extraordinary. Mr. Africa: What book are you going to be sharing with us during this safari? Tell us a little about it. What inspired this particular story or topic?
Lisa: While I’ve written quite a few books set in Africa, I’m going to be sharing Blood Ransom. I loved writing this series, and this story in particular gave me a chance to really show my love for this continent and use the setting for a fast-paced romantic suspense story. It was nominated for a Christy award, and is a powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade. Book two in the series is Blood Covenant and it was the winner of the 2011 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for best inspirational suspense. Both books in the series take the reader deep into the heart of Africa for non-stop action and, of course, a bit of romance as well.
Mr. Africa: Lisa, it sounds exciting, and I'm looking forward to reading it myself. You obviously have a deep love for this land. What in particular makes Africa so special for you? Lisa: I’ve been blessed to be able to spend time all over Africa, from west Africa, to east Africa, to southern Africa. In the process, we’ve met so many amazing people plus seen so many diverse landscapes and beauty. From Victoria Falls, to lions and leopards in the bush, to the beautiful beaches of the Indian ocean. Mr. Africa: Okay, everyone. Ahead of us, we’re going to stop at a large water hole where we’ll see a vast array of animals, elephants, giraffe, hippos, and zebra, who have come out for their daily drink. As we park and watch them, I'll hand out some refreshments, and perhaps one of the other authors can join me in the front. Lisa, which do you prefer? Coffee or tea? Sweet or savory? Lisa: I’ll have some coffee and something savory please! Here are the others participating in the safari. Please, everyone, stay in the vehicle and visitors, feel free to visit us all here!
I'm super excited to share that Deadly Intentions, my latest romantic suspense releases today! This story was actually very personal for me, and you can read about it here on my last blog post. When you lose someone you love, or are faced with a life and death situation, you look at things different from that point on.
I have to say, though, that this past weekend with the horrible shootings, I've had to question, not for the first time, why I write what I write. It might be fiction, what my characters go through, but I don't ever forget that there are people who are confronted with situations in real life where they lose someone they love or are affected by devastating trauma. And while I believe God can and does redeem their stories, in real life, things are rarely tied up in a nice, neat bow.
I’ve shared some of my reasons before in various interviews and blogs in the past about why I write suspense. About God calling ordinary people and using them to make a difference in the world. About our response to that call. And about how He, then, is the one who will give us the strength to do extraordinary things for Him. Because He is the only answer to the hurt in our world today.
I want my readers to never forget that the God who created the universe loves us and wants to be our strength no matter what is happening in the world around us. Jesus came to heal the empty and broken hearted, and those searching for freedom and hope. Psalm 91 says that He is our refuge and fortress. He will cover us with his feathers and under His wings where we will find refuge.
So for now, I’m going to keep writing stories of justice and hope, and pray that you will turn to Him to write your own story.
Three years ago, the unthinkable happened. Three armed men walked into our house and held us at gunpoint. Things quickly escalated and in a matter of minutes, my entire, safe world changed forever. They tied up myself, my husband and my daughter—gave me two black eyes and a mild concussion in the process—and robbed us, including my wedding ring off my finger.
It’s crazy how I can remember so many details from that night, but there is one that stands out. I managed to untie myself and help our daughter get free, but as I ran through the house, I couldn’t find my husband who’d been drug into another room. I started to panic, but was dizzy from repeated blows to the head and struggling to think straight. They’d told us they were going to take our vehicle, so all I could think of was that they must have taken him with them. I quickly locked the security gates in case the men decided to return, and then remember sliding down against the wall and onto the floor in the hallway. It’s the one detail I will never forget. I knew at the point my husband was dead.
That moment will be impressed in my mind forever.
Even when I found out he was alive, and that instead he’d managed to escape, run for help, and save us by scaring away the men, I still couldn’t shake that moment. The response from friends and family over the following days and weeks was overwhelming, and so were the dozens of ways in which we realized God had answered our prayers in a situation that could have ended very differently.
But what if it had
I write romantic suspense. I write about situations like this. Situations that force my characters to wrestle with the evil in the world and that reality that we live in a fallen world. Stories where God’s redemption and grace shine through. But this wasn’t a book where I could guarantee a happy ending. And I couldn’t shake that moment when I’d been so convinced my husband was dead.
I spent the next year or so asking myself how I would have responded if they really had killed my husband. And while I’m not sure why, it was a question I had to ask. And it was a question I had to write about. How would his death have changed me? And even more importantly, would his death have shattered my faith? As crazy as it might seem, that’s the question I decided to answer in my latest book, Deadly Intentions, and why this book is so personal. I needed to know what would happen if things didn’t end happily-ever-after.
Sometimes the trauma sometimes still comes to the forefront of my mind, but God has continued to show me His faithfulness and His goodness. I know that because I’ve seen the good that He continues to bring out of this very difficult situation. I’ve felt a strength and determination grow and seek God in a deeper level, that yes, still questions and falters at times, but also manages to thrive.
Deadly Intentions doesn’t necessarily wrap up everything in a pretty bow—because it couldn’t. Some hurts never go away—but that is true in life as well. I do promise, though, that it has a happy and satisfying ending despite the characters wrestling through the same questions I have faced.
Deadly Intentions releases August 6th and is available for pre-order now.
Research scientist Caitlyn Lindsey is convinced that someone is taking out her team one by one. First, a friend and research partner was killed in a home invasion. Three months ago, her boss died in a suspicious car accident. Four days ago, another partner supposedly committed suicide. And now Caitlyn herself has miraculously survived a hit-and-run. Afraid for her life with nowhere to turn, she reaches out to one of the victim's husbands, Detective Josh Solomon.
Though initially skeptical about Caitlyn's theory, Josh soon realizes that the attack that took his wife's life was anything but random. Now the two of them must discover the truth about who is after Caitlyn's team--and what their end game is--before it's too late.
In this nail-biting thriller, award-winning author Lisa Harris will have you believing that there's no such thing as random.
UPDATE: Thanks to those of you who have stopped by and commented! For some reason, I can't leave a comment on my own blog. Anyway, enjoy the story!!
It seems like the news cycle is constantly reporting yet another tragedy. And recently, several have hit home. Last week we’d just gotten home from church, when one of the brothers told me that a flight from Ethiopia to Nairobi—a route we often take—had crashed. There were no survivors. Then this last weekend, a cyclone hit north of us. While we experienced the brutal force of a cyclone two years ago where we live, this time it hit a highly populated city and the death toll continues to rise.
These are just two of many tragedies that have happened recently.
My daughter recently wrote something about suffering and God’s redemption recently that resonated with me. I hope it encourages you today to not only strengthen your trust in Him, but also as a reminder for us to make a difference in the lives of those struggling around us today.
The other day, my mom forwarded me daily devotional by an author named Laura Story. A third of the way down the page were two sentences she highlighted in bold. It read, “God doesn’t promise our stories will make sense in and of themselves. But He does promise they will find their greater purpose in light of His greater story of redemption.”
Reading this reminded me of Job. Throughout the book of Job, we see him wanting an audience with God. He wanted God to directly answer his questions to why he was suffering. But instead of answering Job’s question, God talked about all of His wonderful and powerful acts, displayed through everything He has made. Then God reminded Job that no human has the power to do match that. And Job remained in the dark regarding why he was suffering, and why God allowed it. But we soon see that God wanted Job to recognize his inability to always understand—his human limits—because we are finite beings. In the end, it says that God restored what was lost and gave back to him twice than what he had before. (Job 42:10).
The fact that God has the power to not only restore what Job lost, but replenish him with even more than he asked for is incredible. God demonstrates his goodness, his power, love, and his faithfulness to those who trust and fear Him.
The story of Job gives me hope. Unlike Job (Job 1), I am not a “blameless and upright.”. I am a sinner in need of repentance, mercy, and undeserved grace, because I have messed up. But still the story of Job gives me hope in times where I don’t understand why God is allowing my suffering. I have asked the Lord to make me a vessel for His glory and His kingdom come, but when His glory is being played out, sometimes there are things in my life that hinder this. Things he needs to take away. But we often just see and feel the effects of the subtraction. We feel the pain just as Job felt the suffering when he lost everything. Yet he still was somehow able to say “may the name of the Lord be praised.”
What gets me is that in Job, God gave back to Job for fearing Him, trusting him, and being faithful in spite of the horrible pain that took root in Job’s life. I feel often we get inpatient and just feel the pain and suffering and think that it is all in vain. But I know that my pain is not in vain.
I don’t understand completely why I have had to experience brokenness, pain, hurt, and loss, but I know that it is not in vain. And I believe what it says in Romans 8 when Paul writes, “
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[b] have been called according to his purpose.” God gives, but He may also take away. And the hardest part of that process is trusting that our pain we feel is not in vain.
It takes faith and strength to say, “you know what God, this hurts and I just want to give up, but I know my pain is not in vain and that you are using it. Your ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8) and you are the ultimate source of wisdom because I can’t and don’t understand what is going on.
Just like Job and his friends didn’t and could not understand and find the answer to why God allowed suffering in Job’s life. What I do know that He gives peace through the pain, not only from personal experience, but through numerous mentions throughout scripture that promise peace.
If you read the rest of Isaiah 55:8-, it says:
“As the rain and the snow
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
and be led forth in peace”
The Lord takes away, yes, but he also gives. Whatever reason we are suffering, we must do our best to keep a biblical perspective on suffering. We must trust Him because He has promised that through trials, He will not forsake us (Psalms 9:10).
Let us be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
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