I recently read and reviewed her book - I highly recommend it! Evelyn stopped by our blog to answer some questions with us. At the end of the interview, be sure to read our giveaway rules and enter to win her book!
On your site, it mentions that you were a missionary to Russia for seven years. What was that experience like?
Being a missionary is exciting, challenging, lonely, and humbling. I went with my plans for how I would serve God and the Russian people. What I didn’t expect was how many Russians would serve me and teach me and bless me with their friendship and deep faith. God changed me and used me in ways I didn’t expect, using, for example to make tortillas from scratch as a way to build relationships with people who ordinarily wouldn’t attend church.
Evelyn, I loved your book! The true story of the Brynza family is amazing, and I have to ask… what made you write Beyond The Rapids?
Thank you so much! During my missionary years, I traveled to Ukraine several times to join short term teams from my home church. Many people who went on these trips heard the Brynzas’ stories and were amazed and inspired by them. When I returned home, I was asked to write their story so that others could also be encouraged that God is still at work, even when it doesn’t seem like He is.
The events and information presented in the book are meshed together perfectly. How did you collect and assemble it all so well?
I’m not sure if I should say trial and error or the hand of God. Both are true. I went through several drafts, trying different formats, brainstorming with someone who was coaching me through the process. A major challenge was deciding what to include from the material I had gathered through interviews with the Brynza family, extensive reading about the Soviet Union, and my own knowledge of the culture. After about two years, God gave me an idea as I was praying about the book. I soon had note cards in rows and piles all over my living room floor, but once they were organized, I had the basic flow and structure of the book set.
Are there plans for more books farther down the road? If there are, would you mind sharing any details on them?
I don’t have immediate plans for other books, but I am toying with a few ideas. In the meantime, I am writing a series of devotionals based on Beyond the Rapids, and am posting them on my website.
What do you hope someone will be affected by the most from reading Beyond The Rapids?
When I wrote it, I was hoping that believers would be inspired to take our calling to study and apply the Word of God more seriously, to have closer relationships with God. What I am learning that many unbelievers have been challenged to reconsider their beliefs and many Christians say their faith has been strengthened.
Can you recommend websites for anyone that would be interested in helping those who are being persecuted?
Two in particular come to mind: International Christian Concern’s www.persecution.org and The Voice of the Martyrs at www.persecution.com.
There are many great Bible verses and quotes out there, but which of these apply to your journey in life?
Because I struggle so much with it, Romans 12:1 sums up my journey well. I have had to learn to live with what God gives and what He chooses to withhold, and to live in a way that is pleasing to Him, and not to me. Along similar lines, I often consider the quotation “preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words.” I think I am indebted to St Francis of Assisi for that reminder that if I do not show the love of Christ in how I treat people, my words may not bear much fruit.
Randomly Fun Questions:
What are you currently reading?
A few days ago I finished Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky and now am in the middle of False Impressions by Jeffrey Archer and What Good is God? by Philip Yancey.
Do you prefer tea or coffee?
Definitely tea. It brings back fond memories of my years in Russia where drinking tea and eating chocolates is a major social activity.
How do you start your day off each morning?
I feed my cat, make my husband’s lunch and see him off, and have my time with the Lord, not always in that order. (Well, the cat is usually first because she’s the one whining.)
How can our bookworms best get in contact with you?
I’d be thrilled to hear from anyone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Evelyn, for doing this interview and giveaway with us!
Imagine that you are a believer living in a communist country. You live with the knowledge that at any time you could be imprisoned, tortured, or killed simply because you are a Christian. Beyond the Rapids is the true story of Ukrainian pastor Alexei Brynza and his wife, Valentina, who endured persecution in a culture that was hostile to their faith as they struggled to raise their four children as believers. From the Great Terror of the 1930s to the time when believing in Christ is no longer a crime, this close-knit Ukrainian family quietly persisted through the years, trusting God for everything. The Brynzas' children, forced to choose between God and the communist system, wrestled with temptations of ambition, popularity, love, and wealth. For periods of their lives, one or more gave in. But God heard the faithful prayers of Alexei and Valentina, and eventually the Brynza family was able not only to survive while serving God, but to thrive. Their son-in-law, Igor Yaremchuk, adds his own testimony of coming to Christ with the help of miracles and atheistic propaganda. Beyond the Rapids is a story for all believers everywhere. If you're concerned about the erosion of religious freedom, if you are discouraged because your children have wandered far from God, if you long to stand firm in your faith in all circumstances, the Brynzas' testimony of God's faithfulness will provide hope and inspiration as you are reminded afresh that God is with you, in every moment. As you sail through the torrents in your own life, God will meet you right where you are and guide you to the smooth water beyond the rapids.
Title: Beyond The Rapids
Author: Evelyn Puerto
Publisher: Pleasant Word (Division of WinePress Publishing)
Evelyn is giving away Beyond The Rapids to one bookworm! In order to enter, you must leave a comment with your e-mail address (so that we can contact you). US and Canada only, please. This giveaway starts today and ends on March 24th. A winner will be picked randomly (using random.org) and announced on the 25th. We will contact the winner and notify them by their e-mail address. If the winner doesn't respond within a few days, we will have to pick another. Good luck! =)