Join me in welcoming author Jeanette Windle to Sugarpeach! Jeanette is the author of The DMZ, the book I reviewed yesterday. The DMZ was fantastic and I highly recommend it to readers of adult political/suspense books. Without further ado, allow me to present to you a guest blog post by Jeanette. Enjoy!
If I Am Julie Baker
When Evangeline Han asked if, instead of an interview on The DMZ, I would write a blog post on its main character titled ‘If I Am Julie Baker’, I found myself increasingly enthusiastic. Not just because the request was a welcome change from the usual interview questions (please believe I do NOT have a favorite color, food, or movie). But because of all my female protagonists, Julie Baker, the MK [missionary kid] turned journalist heading back to the jungle zone where she grew up, was birthed from my own life and heart.
Like Julie Baker, I was raised in what are now the guerrilla zones of Colombia. Every jungle sight, sound, and smell in The DMZ is from personal experience, the small town to which Julie returns exactly as it was in my teen years there. I was not an only child, but one of five siblings. Nor did I lose my parents in the jungle because of their ministry, though I have MK friends who did so. I was not taken captive by guerrillas, though again I’ve had friends who were, their experiences brought to life in the pages of The DMZ instead of my own.
But like Julie, I did spend much of my growing up years from age seven on separated from my parents at boarding school. Once I left home at age 18 for Bible college in Canada, the next time I saw them was at my wedding three years later (and this was well before email, FaceBook, or even regular postal service in the Colombian jungle zones). Among the more unusual tidbits in The DMZ taken from real life:
*Julie’s packing. To this day, I pack as Julie describes, though these days with conference speaking around the world, I’ve added a roll-on handbag to my knapsack. Rule of thumb, in case of political coup, hijacking, landslide or any other disaster, I want to be able to walk away with everything I need on my back.
*CIA. Like Julie, I was barely in my teens the first time I was accused of being CIA, surely the only explanation for Americans living in a jungle zone!
*Jungle survival. Drop a Special Forces soldier and a jungle MK into the Amazon, and, yes, it will be the MK who ends up finding the way out and keeping them fed (while said SF soldier keeps the guerrillas off their back, of course!). I’ve actually passed on the piranha tip to more than one SF friend down south.
The basic facts of The DMZ, including the presence of Islamic fundamentalist groups in the demilitarized zone and Iran’s proposed project (squashed by US embassy pressure, so that I could use in fiction, but revived interestingly now on the Venezuelan side of the Amazon), is all from real life, if my suspense plot is thankfully fiction. As to the people I once knew and loved in the guerrilla zones, three decades later I have no idea how many are still alive. I do know one little boy whose uncle married a friend of mine who grew up to become the area guerrilla brigade commander (how I ended up with his cell-phone number in case of emergency the last time I traveled that way is a story in itself).
Of the many churches my missionary father planted in that area, most have been shut, burned to the ground, pastors killed, their congregations part of Colombia’s internal flood of refugees. But burning a building cannot kill the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and like the early church in Jerusalem when God allowed persecution to scatter them, the people of those churches have taken God’s Word everywhere they have gone. We still hear from many who are serving God around Colombia where they now live, even in the middle of refugee camps.
I will say that it is the voices of many I knew and loved who come alive in the pages of The DMZ. The pastors and civic leaders gunned down for making a stand. The child soldiers with their cold, dead eyes and lost dreams who belong at home and school, but who too often are victims themselves with no place to go. The guerrilla fighters and paramilitaries, many of whom have a story of tragedy and betrayal themselves and who began with noble enough motives, but whose brutal tactics have transformed them into the very oppressive evil they’ve pledged themselves to fight. The ordinary people who don’t want to be forced to choose between the different sides of the conflict, but only left alone to raise their families and cultivate their fields in peace.
Above all, Julie Baker’s spiritual struggle in The DMZ was definitely birthed out of my own. The issues of sacrifice that God’s call to service inevitably demands, not only from missionary parents but from their children, is one with which every missionary kid comes to terms at some point in their adult life. Does God have a right to demand our total sacrifice? Does He have the right to demand our sacrifice of those we love? “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds . . . If anyone comes to me and does not hate (count as of lesser importance) his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple [John 12:24; Luke 14:26]. Are these just words or a philosophy of life God seriously expects us to apply beyond our comfortable suburban neighborhoods?
Julie Baker’s conclusion is also my own: “Oh, Dad! Mom! I get it! It wasn’t that you didn’t love me—that you chose Colombia over me. It’s just that some things really are worth dying for. And living for too [p. 474].”
Whatever the cost, laying down one’s life in service to God is indeed worth it!
Giveaway has closed
Kregel Publications is providing a copy of The DMZ to one Sugarpeach reader. US and Canada only. Leave a comment below to be entered into the giveaway. Please do not include your email address in the comment as I can see the email addresses of all commentors and leaving an email address in the comment might open you to spam. The winners will be drawn using random.org. This contest ends on May 1, 2011. The winners will be announced on May 2, 2011. If the winner does not reply within 4 days, another draw will be made.
For additional entries (optional, a total of 2 additional entries allowed)
-Subscribe to my blog using the ‘Email Subscription’ form at the top-right corner. Use the same email address you will be using to comment. In the comment, tell me that you have subscribed to my blog. A subscription counts as 1 additional entry.
-Comment in Jeanette’s blog. Include the link(s) in your comment here. Each relevant and appropriate comment counts as 1 additional entry.
-Post about this giveaway in your blog, Facebook or Twitter*. Include the link(s) to your post(s) in the comment. Each post counts as 1 additional entry.
*For Twitter posts, use this: @evangelinehan I entered to win a copy of The DMZ by Jeanette Windle at Sugarpeach. http://is.gd/Anza7h