The number of pre-ordered copies of the prayer-guide I'm working on is up to 6000! I'm trying to finalize text - The latest round of edits comes from eight different sets of eyes.
I haven't been able to find the field-based cultural expert I'd like to have to keep us from getting things really wrong, but it seems to be because there isn't one. Which makes this work, I guess, just that much more significant.
One of my biggest concerns was that having done the research all in one country and publishing a booklet that says it's about the whole people group (who live in half a dozen countries), we would be promising more than we could deliver. "They are night and day different," insisted one of my more knowledgeable contacts. Are they? Usually ethnography gets at the stuff that doesn't change as much; I'd encouraged the team to research and write about those more central things.
I've worked on so many prayer guides now. As an editor I know how to choose details and draw conclusions carefully, excluding things that are unlikely to 'ring true' outside the actual [true] situation they are describing. On the other hand, I haven't read all the notes, and didn't sit in on the meetings or do any interviews. If it were left up to me, I'd probably end up making this people group sound just like any other Muslim group. So what I have to balance is stewarding my experience with what makes a prayer guide work with seeking that creative edge. And S., as research coordinator, not only has a great feel for what the team learned and what things are most important, she has also been able to pull up additional spice and color we needed to replace what got cut out.
Of course the main thing is that it build bridges of compassion and understanding and raise up and equip people to intercede for this people group, calling on God to do the things he has already planned for the building of his kingdom among them...
I think we're on the right track. One of this recent round of editors, who worked in a neighboring country, writes the following:
"Thank you for allowing me to see the new prayer guide ...The team did an excellent job of putting this together. The stories are excellent and give a great view of the people group. They are right on target, specific enough to validate the work of the team, broad enough to cover the life of [whole people group]. I did not see anything that I would change. ... I look forward to seeing the finished product and getting it into the hands of prayer partners. Thank you for the fine job you are doing."
Another, still based in that neighboring country, writes,
"It is great. I only had a few comments. The researchers covered every major issue [affecting the people group], and very well done."
So here's my question for you. I'd like to put these girls on the cover. Will the American moms in the audience want to send them home to change? ("You can't wear pink and orange together!")