I’m delighted to introduce our Heart”wings” readers to Elizabeth Musser today, and I’m excited to learn more about Elizabeth’s Offering Refuge(es) to my Readers and The Long Highway Home.
Over a decade ago, I read a lovely book set in Atlanta called The Swan House. I immediately connected with the story, having traveled often to Atlanta to visit family, even having visited the location where the novel was set. I loved Elizabeth’s later novels, as well. Her stories don’t shy away from tough issues, so I am looking forward to reading her latest work. I just had to invite her to share about it with all of us here!
Elizabeth has been a missionary in France for over twenty-five years. Welcome to Heart”wings!”
Bonjour, dear Janet!
I love the way the French language sounds! I can hear that in my mind 🙂 I think it’s wonderful that you work in missions. Tell us about your work and how that ties in with this new novel, The Long Highway Home.
In the summer of 1984, I, along with dozens of other missionaries working throughout Europe, gathered for our missions’ yearly conference in an Austrian castle-turned-retreat-center. It was a time to refresh our souls and be encouraged by fellowship with like-minded young people who were serving the Lord overseas.
On this night, the different teams were giving reports about their various ministries. I listened to fascinating stories of God’s mighty work among the missionaries who were smuggling Bibles from outside Vienna into the countries that sat behind the Iron Curtain.
That is amazing.
It all sounded so very exciting and rewarding.
Fast forward a few years to another conference. This time the former Bible smugglers were telling about their fledgling ministry to refugees. The Iron Curtain had come down and suddenly any and every one could take whatever they pleased into Eastern Europe. Many of our colleagues moved into Eastern European countries to begin ministries there.
But some stayed right in the village outside of Vienna where a young man I’ll call *Randy* had begun a ministry to refugees. In the 80s, he had trained to be a Bible smuggler. But when he got to this village with his teammates, he found that he wasn’t cut out for that job. And so, stuck in this village for his two-year term, he started visiting the Government Refugee Housing Center that was down the street. At that time, the imposing brick building housed mostly refugees who had fled from the East.
Randy began offering English lessons to the kids and then to the adults and eventually he began leading Bible studies. Gradually a ministry to refugees was born at a ministry center called The Oasis where believers served up coffee and Christ. The Oasis flourished and grew after the Iron Curtain came down.
I loved hearing the stories of refugees coming to Christ.
They sound like modern-day apostles. It gives me chills just thinking of it. I’m dying to hear more!
Fast forward again about twenty years when the Holy Spirit nudged my husband and me into a new job—that of giving pastoral care to our missions’ workers throughout Europe. Our home base remained in Lyon, France, but we traveled to thirteen different countries, interacting with missionaries on many different teams.
Suddenly, I was seeing first hand those ministries I had been hearing about at conferences for so many years. When visiting The Oasis, we had the privilege of interacting not only with the missionaries but also with the refugees who told stories of fleeing persecution along what is called The Refugee Highway and of finding hope at The Oasis.
These displaced people, mostly young Muslim men, played chess and Uno with the workers and volunteers. Some watched the Jesus film in their own language. Others attended clandestine Bible studies. And many found Jesus.
Praise the Lord for that!
I’d been writing recent historical, inspirational fiction ever since I met with an editor at a writers’ conference in 1994. Often my inspiration came from little known events in history that I’d learned about while living in France or from recent history in my beloved hometown of Atlanta.
But now, hearing these current stories of refugees, learning of changed lives, and meeting some of these precious people, I felt a new inspiration. And so I began to pen a story called The Long Highway Home, fiction that is nevertheless based on so many true stories of refugees and missionaries and the Spirit of God at work.
[Tweet The Long Highway Home, fiction based on true stories of refugees and missionaries….”]
This story sounds intriguing. Sounds like you have an insider’s view. I would love to know more about what is really going on.
As I wrote this novel, I certainly was not trying to make a political statement. Rather, I wanted to present my readers with a story that had touched and broken my heart. I wanted my readers to know that God is working in spite of all we see and hear in the news. My heart burned with joy as I heard testimonies of refugees seeing Jesus in a dream and seeking Him out. I wanted my readers to hear those stories too.
Okay, I need to head over and buy this book now!
The great lesson I learned from attending The Oasis was something each of us can learn. Do what you can. Offer a smile, a sack of clothes, a warm meal, a whisper of hope, a Bible. The Lord wasn’t asking me to solve the huge worldwide dilemma of refugees. But I felt that I could do something—and that ‘something’ was to write a story that tells a few of their stories and those of hard-working missionaries who are giving their very lives for these people.
Does the adage Do what you can resonate with you in any way?
It does, and I’m sure it will with our readers!
ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years. All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.
For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.
Elizabeth Musser has graciously offered one commenter a copy of The Long Highway Home (paperback U.S. only or eBook International)! Tell us what you think! Comment by July 24th, 2017 to be included in the drawing for the book!
Does the adage “Do what you can” resonate with you in any way?
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