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Q & A with JEANNIE KENDALL

Q & A with JEANNIE KENDALL

Why did you decide to write Finding our Voice? And why did you choose this title?

Strangely, a number of people over a short period of time suggested quite independently that I should write a book. At first I dismissed it, but the idea would not let me go. The title came very early. I knew I wanted to give a voice to some of the unnamed women and men in the bible, and some people from today too. 

Who have you written this book for?

Several groups: 

  • for those who would not usually read the Bible but who are interested in people and stories
  • for those on the fringe of churches who are not sure that the Bible is relevant
  • for long-term Christians who have got to rather take things for granted and want a fresh look
  • for leaders looking for fresh material for small groups etc.
  • I also wonder if it might be useful for older teens doing RE, running CU’s etc

How have you found the experience of writing Finding our Voice? 

I loved it! Writing is my happy place. I loved the excuse to delve into the background of the bible stories. Hard work at times, but so enjoyable.

The key theme of your book is showing how stories told by unnamed characters in the Bible are relevant to today; what called you to focus on this? 

For some years I had been writing an occasional series of poems about unnamed people in the Bible, from their perspective. I hadn’t shared them much, but when I had they had usually been well received. It was a natural extension from that, and my passion to get under the skin of the stories, as it were.

In Finding our Voice you write in the imagined voice of Biblical characters; did you find it daunting to elaborate on Bible stories in this manner? 

Yes, I’m very aware of treading on difficult ground in a number of ways. I certainly needed to research well to ensure that what I imagined was possible in the context. People build their own expectations around some of the stories, particularly the well-known ones. However, I hope that what I have written is true both to the context and human nature.

You also powerfully mirror Bible stories with personal testimonies from people today facing similar issues. How did people feel as you enabled them to find their voice today?

I know for some it was very important – a means to tell their story whilst in a sense protected by the anonymity. People who were brave enough to tell me their stories varied enormously – some doing it because they believed in the book, some to help others in similar situations, some as a way to continue their own personal journey. I have such respect for those who were willing to share their stories. They are very brave.

You enable Bible characters to tell their own personal stories in the book. Why did you choose the medium of storytelling rather than using a more traditional teaching approach?

I have been fascinated by stories from when I was a small child. For years I worked as a counsellor and was profoundly privileged to hear people’s stories and help them make connections with different parts of them. As a minister I am equally privileged, so it seemed the natural way to do it for me.

What was the most important / surprising lesson you learnt from writing this book?

I am still learning a lot! For myself, that I continue to be passionate about helping people understand what an amazingly relevant book the Bible is, in a different way from the way I do on Sundays! I have learned what a long and complex process getting a book published is!!

What encouragement would you give to anyone today who feels in a position where they are unseen or do not have a voice?

There is someone who will see you and listen. It can be difficult to find them sometimes, and easy to  feel we are not worth it. But your story is unique and precious. Your voice can be found and heard. I believe God knows your story and it is incredibly important to him. But sometimes we need to experience that from a person to be able to take hold of that.

What do you hope the reader will take away from Finding our Voice

I hope they will enjoy the book and find it interesting and accessible. I hope that they will take away a new way to look at the stories; that these are not just words on a page from a bygone era but incredibly up to date and relevant, and perhaps they will want to explore the Bible more. If their lives have been touched by some of the issues in the book then I hope that they will be helped to feel that they are not alone. Above all, I hope that they may feel that their own voice is important.

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Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
Finding Our Voice (Paperback)
Kendall, Jeannie
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