by Randy Bishop
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for New Hope Publishers!
Before you think this is another Christmas-in-July sales gimmick or assume I’ve just gone crazy, let me explain.
This week New Hope staff (some of us) have the opportunity to attend the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). At this trade show, the Christian book industry comes together to meet, to worship, to learn, to share information, and to do business. So, what makes the ICRS so great?
We get a chance to tell key people in the industry (bookstore book buyers) about the wonderful writings God has entrusted to us. We play a part and our authors play a part. Our New Hope authors do a great job of promoting their books through interviews and events, and especially through the always fun author signings. These are basically publicity events to give away free, signed copies of our resources to book buyers from Christian stores around the world.
Some of our authors jump up and down (literally) to draw attention while others are more subdued. A few of us even tried singing an old hymn (“When we all see Jesus, what a day of rejoicing that will be. . .”), though not so much for publicity as just for the joy of praising God. Regardless, they all (I think) enjoy interacting with those who serve as gatekeepers, deciding what goes on the bookstore shelf and what does not. When they can, our authors also make it an opportunity for ministry, genuinely caring about those come to see them.
ICRS is usually the only time during the year when so many of the New Hope family are in one place. Twenty authors made the trip to Orlando this year, and most were able to join us at Maggiano’s Italian restaurant for a wonderful meal on Tuesday night. Once again, I ended up with a plate full of tiramisu in front of me. But the sweetest things at the dinner were the prayers and conversations between brothers and sisters in Christ—we are truly a family! We lingered long together last night, as if we truly enjoyed each other’s company and, actually, we do. (For more photos of our authors, click here.)
A Powerful Reminder
Finally, I love the ICRS because I get to meet people and hear stories from the frontlines of Christian ministry worldwide. Where else can I hear a 90-year-old man from Indiana testify to how God is now using his daughter to minister to moms and young children at the bookstore he founded so many years ago? And his daughter told me how every Wednesday her father still leads a Bible study at the store for a diverse group of people. “It’s like heaven,” she said.
Or where else can I go to meet Christian book buyers from Finland, Australia, Nigeria, Guyana, Malaysia, and Ukraine? Perhaps the most exciting interaction I’ve had so far was when a man from Egypt came to our booth and wanted to know more about our books for possible translation into Arabic. What a blessed thought!
Ultimately the ICRS reminds us that Christian book publishing—whether print or digital—is a ministry that can change lives for eternity in every country on the planet. Will you pray for New Hope and Christian publishers in general to be faithful with the calling and resources God has entrusted to them?