Anne is on a writing hiatus preparing for her upcoming novella release from Barbour Publishing (more on that to come in the future!). So we are delighted to have guest blogger and author, Elizabeth Musser here on the CCC blog today. She is introducing you to the research an author will do for their novel and how that research changes you! (And she's going to give away a copy of her latest novel!) ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years. All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.
For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.
Please help us welcome, Elizabeth!
On a blistering day in Montpellier, France, I walked through the city’s majestic square, flowers and fountains splashing their welcome as I hurried along the wide open space. I found my way to the public library, hiding myself in the stacks as I searched for books on Algeria’s War for Independence from France.
Before moving to France as a missionary, I didn’t even know that Algeria was located across the Mediterranean Sea from France! But getting a contract for my first novel changed everything. That was back in 1994, way before internet. I actually had to go to a library, check out a book—in French, no less—or maybe search through micro film, watch documentaries and interview people who had been involved in some way in this war.
And it changed me, all this research.
Suddenly I understood a lot more about the racial tensions in France. So when seated around the dinner table for a four-hour-long meal, I carefully asked questions and found my French friends surprised and intrigued that I knew so much about this war.
Fast forward to 2010 when our mission agency asked my husband and me to take on a new role called Pastors to Workers. Our home base remained in France but our territory included from Ireland to Ukraine. We traveled to 13 different countries, interacting with workers on 25 different teams.
Suddenly, I was seeing up close ministries I had been hearing about at missions conferences for so many years. Our job was to listen, counsel, laugh and cry, pray and listen some more to these dear workers who were indeed pouring out their lives for the physically and spiritually oppressed: refugees, students, gypsies, trafficked woman, secular humanists, pilgrims, artists.
One ministry to refugees birthed outside of Vienna in the 1980s particularly stirred my heart. In our pastoral role, Paul and I had the privilege of interacting not only with our colleagues who ran The Oasis ministry center but also with refugees. We heard stories of men, women and children fleeing persecution along what is called The Refugee Highway and finding hope at The Oasis where believers served up coffee and Christ.
These displaced people, mostly young Muslim men, played chess and Uno with the missionaries and volunteers. Some watched the Jesus film in their own language. Others attended clandestine Bible studies. And a few left with Jesus in their hearts.
One of the things that struck me from attending The Oasis was something each of us can learn. Do what you can. Offer a smile, a sack of clothes, a warm meal, a whisper of hope, a Bible. The Lord wasn’t asking me to solve the huge worldwide dilemna of refugees. But I felt that I could do something—and that ‘something’ was to write a story that tells a few of their stories. The Long Highway Home is fiction, but it is based on many, many stories of refugees finding hope in the midst of the horror as Jesus reveals Himself to them in the most surprising ways. And I wanted to tell the story of hard-working missionaries who are giving their very lives for these people.
Because of my personal interaction at The Oasis and the long months of research, I look at the present day refugee crisis with a different filter, a filter that says simply: do what you can.
The Long Highway Home
Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known.
When the doctor pronounces ‘incurable cancer’ and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier. Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss…
Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along The Refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger. Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time? And at what cost?
Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.
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