I met Miah Oren through an online writers’ group called Story Sessions (now The Coterie), and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and watch the process of this story making its way into the world. Her first book, The Reluctant Missionary: A Journey From Failure to Faith, released on Tuesday, and you should all buy it immediately. And yes, Mom and Dad, it comes in paperback as well.
1. I can’t wait to dive in to your book! Tell us about The Reluctant Missionary.
The Reluctant Missionary: A Journey From Failure to Faith describes my journey from idealistic young missionary to depressed, cynical teacher who was just trying to make it through each week. I had unrealistic expectations for myself, my team, and my hosts. And I didn’t know what to do when those expectations weren’t met.
2. What sets your book apart from other books written about mission experiences?
I haven’t read a book about missions that addresses failure. But I wish I had before going overseas. I wrote the book so others in missions and Christian ministry will know that they’re not alone in worrying about failure and that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
3. What was the biggest joy you faced in writing the book? The biggest hurdle?
The biggest joy in writing the book was discovering how all the pieces of that experience fit together. Even in draft 17 (of 23) I was adding characters. Of course they were there all along, but I hadn’t realized how their words and/or actions fully impacted my decisions.
The biggest hurdle was probably making the decision to publish in the first place. Originally this was an email to someone who was struggling as a missionary. Then I decided to expand the story “for posterity.” When I had 200 pages and was 95% done with the first draft, it finally occurred to me that it could be a book. But I was nervous about sharing the story because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I also know that my perspective probably isn’t correct. So many things I heard via rumors and gossip, through mangled translations from another language, or that I just misunderstood because I really wasn’t doing well personally. But this was the data I had at the time.
4. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring mission workers, what would it be?
You are not responsible for any outcomes. It’s all up to God. Whether wonderful or terrible things happen, your obedience is more important, and you’re not responsible for “results” or “success.” Only God knows what success looks like. Whether fifty people come to Christ or no one, you are doing God’s important work by showing up.
5. What projects are you working on now?
Currently I’m working on the second draft of the mystery novel I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo. It’s about a girl who thinks she’s joining a convent, but it’s actually a secret international spy/detective agency.
Writing a memoir was hard. It’s a nice change to write about fictional characters whose feelings I don’t need to consider upon releasing the book.
I’m also working on a course called Photography for Writers. It keeps growing – it might be as long as a book by the time I’m done.
Miah is the author of The Reluctant Missionary, a memoir about the two years she spent overseas teaching English. She writes about learning to let go of perfectionism and embracing God’s plan for her life. She lives in Dallas where she dreams of someday having another cat. Connect with Miah online at http://www.miahoren.com.