Davis Bunn Answers The Faithful Fifteen
1. What kind of testimony to your faith are you demonstrating in this book?
DB: I began writing two weeks after I became a Christian. Prior to that I had never picked up a pen before. This initial sense of calling has remained with me throughout the years. More than that, many of my most vital discipleship lessons have come through learning the discipline of writing. I write now both for the mainstream and Christian publishing worlds, but hope and pray God will find each of these works to be a worthy effort. My calling requires this.
2. When did you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus? Where are you today in your walk?
DB: I left the United States when I was twenty years old. I lived and worked in so many different countries I have lost count. I spent three years working as the only non-Muslim in the management of a Lebanese-Saudi Arabian consortium, and during this time studied the Koran. My studies of the Christian Bible began as just another mental exercise. But I was convicted by the saving grace of Jesus. He guides me still, and daily. Thanks be to God.
3. Tell us about your church experiences, how you grew up (or maybe didn't grow up) in the church? Where you attend now? Your involvement in your local assembly.
DB: My family were all churchgoers when I was young. But it was the country-club sort of fellowship that marks so many southern communities. Part of my desire to leave the U.S. was to leave behind this sense of spiritual falsehood. I am happy to say that my brother has since led my entire family, including my divorced parents, to the Lord.
My wife and I split our time now between England and Florida. My wife teaches, and I serve as novelist in residence at the Baptist college of Oxford University. Here in Florida we worship with a small country evangelical church, a complete and utter change from the high-altitude sort of academic experience at Oxford, but just as real, just as vital, just as alive with the Spirit.
4. Tell us about your current church family/fellowship; how does it influence your work?
DB: At Oxford we are part of the spiritual community within the college. We attend services both there and in the village where we live. Here in Florida we are involved in a local evangelical community church, and serve with a number of local outreach organizations. This is closely tied to the next question, so I will answer both of these together.
5. Who are your spiritual mentors? Your professional mentors?
DB: My time at Oxford has granted me the opportunity to study with some amazing minds. Several years ago I wrote a historical adventure set in the fourth century, a critical juncture in the development of our church as we know it today. My two tutors were the President of Oxford's theology faculty and the dean of the Lutheran college. It was a thrilling experience.
Here in Florida, I work closely with several Christian outreach communities. One of them is led by a young man who was forced to give up his career as a chiropractor seven years ago because of Parkinson's disease. He has been aged terribly by his affliction, but it has also granted him enormous wisdom. His deep visceral knowledge of faith in action, and faith in suffering, has been as great a gift as the incredible minds at Oxford.
6. Discuss your calling/mission --- as a writer, and as a Christian.
DB: My goal is to offer solid, entertaining fiction that competes with the best of what the mainstream currently offers, but adds to this a strong Christian element. My hope is that readers will find these books to not only entertain, but inspire.
7. What are your Scripture reading habits?
DB: Last month I completed, a daily reading Bible with passages from the works of Oswald Chambers. This took me more than two years to complete, as I am trying to deepen my understanding of certain passages and pray my way through this work. I have gone back now to an old favorite for the first time in years, Knowing God. I want to start another read soon, but with some guide that will help me deepen my understanding of the passages. This is where I need work. That and memorizing more of the Scriptures.
8. What books have most influenced your work?
DB: Other than the Scriptures, on the nonfiction side there are certain standards that have marked great shifts in my spiritual walk. Chuck Colson's autobiography is one. Celebration of Discipline is another. Then there are a group of commentaries written by a teacher who has gone to be with our Lord, John Phillips and his Exploring series. They taught me a great deal about delving and searching in the Word.
9. Do you read secular fiction at all? If so, who are your favorite authors, and why?
DB: I read secular fiction all the time. Christian fiction is in its early stages, and only recently have our authors begun to see themselves as reaching levels where they are striking at the cutting edge of contemporary fiction. If we are to reach out to the general audience, our ability to offer solid uncompromising stories with solid quality means we must study the competition, structure our stories in ways that appeal to the modern mainstream reader, and then add to this what only a Christian can.
10. What are your other media habits --- television, movies, music, etc.?
DB: Music is my other passion. My greatest regret about working with Thomas Nelson, who are based in Nashville, is that in all the time I've been up there, I have yet to visit the Grand Old Opry. Or any other music venue. Which is just a killer. I go there and hit the ground running, fly from meeting to meeting, have dinner with contacts in the community, and whoosh, I'm gone again. It sounds just crazy. But every time I go there is some other reason why I don't have time to hear these groups live. Maybe next time. I'm due back this month. I've begged and pleaded for somebody to feed me some bluegrass or jazz or contemporary Christian or country, I don't care. So long as it's good and it's live.
11. Do you and your family have any special faith-based traditions?
DB: My wife was raised a Polish Catholic. We try to take regular retreats at a Discalced Carmelite monastery, where we reside in absolute silence. There is a very distinct communication with our Lord that comes through such periods of stillness. The command to 'Be still and know' carries great opportunity, and great power.
12. Tell us about your prayer life and habits.
DB: Martin Luther once said that he had become so busy he was required to pray several hours each day. That is the sort of life I aspire to, where whatever I do forces me into a greater prayer-filled bonding with my God.
13. Describe what you believe the role of writing in religion is.
DB: We live in an entertainment driven society. If we are to have an impact upon this crucial component in society, we must raise the standard of Christian entertainment so that people will want to read it, watch it, listen to it, and do so when we are offered right there in head-to-head competition with whatever else is on hand. Be it at the local bookstore, on the television, or at the Cineplex. We must raise our standard high. We must carry the struggle out to where the people are. We must reach them in their language, with what they are willing to give themselves over to. We must entertain, and we must challenge, and we must inspire. May God grant His blessed Spirit to this quest.
14. Tell us about one or more of your favorite encounters with readers.
DB: Receiving letters and emails from readers is a great joy. Without question the most profound contacts have come with prisoners. Their words and their faith humble me.
15. Would you share a story about someone you've brought to Christ or share how your writing has helped someone?
DB: My grandmother became the model for a little story called The Quilt. After I finished it, she was hospitalized with a stroke. It was very hard being away from the family at such a time, but my wife and I could not return to the U.S., so I sent her a copy of the manuscript. Two months later, at her funeral, we had dozens and dozens of people who came up to say that when they went to visit her in the hospital, my grandmother would ask them to read her the story. She had become too ill to talk much, and she could not read herself. She was there in the hospital for over a week, and then back home, and throughout this period she continued to have people read her this story. My clearest memory of this difficult time was not of loss, but rather of intimate bonding with so many strangers, and feeling that in some small way I also helped them heal.
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