Shannon here: Oak Tara author, Eileen Hinkle Rife shares the story of her daughter’s engagement–the seed of inspiration for her book, Journey to Judah. Comment on any post dated Feb 7 – 11 for a chance to win. Deadline Feb 12, Midnight Central time. Here’s Eileen:
A burst of laughter erupted from my daughters as we crowded around the computer reading an email from their oldest sister. Rachel had just arrived in India as a single missionary gal after ten years of preparation. Two days after her arrival, a veteran missionary wife said, “Rachel, your ministry will be more effective if you’re married, and I have the perfect match!”
Now you have to understand my level-headed, no-nonsense Rachel. Perfectly content to serve the Lord as a single woman, she laughed at her colleague. Nonetheless, deep in her heart, she’d always wanted a husband, home, and family, so she said with that characteristic twinkle in her eye, “Well, God hasn’t dropped anybody in my lap thus far, but I’m certainly open.”
Two months later, Nathan arrived on the scene accompanied by his father. As it turned out, Nathan was a third generation missionary kid who had left India to attend college and later serve in a local church. His mom and dad had returned to the States to deal with a health issue, but his father was now ready to take a brief teaching stint back to his place of ministry in India. Since Nathan was feeling uncertain about where the Lord wanted him to serve, he decided to travel back to his Indian roots and see what God might have in store.
Unbeknownst to Rachel and Nathan, the Indian church had been praying that they would get together. Throughout Nathan’s two-week visit, various ones, including the missionary wife and Nathan’s own father, would conveniently and mischievously orchestrate events so that the couple could be alone and talk. One such event occurred during a trip to a bird sanctuary where everyone in the group pulled back from Nathan and Rachel and left them walking alone. It was during this field trip that they learned more about each other’s hopes, dreams, goals, experiences, and personalities.
By the end of Nathan’s two-week trip, they were talking marriage, which brings us back to the giggles around the computer. Rachel shared all of this fresh and overwhelming news in her email. Behind me, her sisters in unison screamed, “I knew it! I just knew it!” They had been confident that God would send Rachel a mate to share her heart for India.
We often tell people that Rachel had to go clear around the world to find her perfect match. The ironic part is that He did so in a culture which is known for arranged marriages and which is also a practice Rachel had scoffed at previously. She now says with a huge grin, “God arranged my marriage!” And I would add, “With a little help from her friends.”
Rachel and Nathan have now been married five years and have three gorgeous children, with red hair just like their mommy. Their heart and home remain in India.
About Eileen: “Healing words for hurting hearts,” is how Eileen Rife describes her books. Whether through fiction or nonfiction, Eileen wants readers to come away with love that extends beyond themselves, faith that can see the impossible, and hope that endures against all odds.
As a child, Eileen loved writing and telling stories. Walking to school every morning, she created characters, then talked to them as she ambled down the road, which was often her way of dealing with grief and loss. After the death of her brother, Eileen learned to empathize with the underdog. Many of Eileen’s stories revolve around issues that many find difficult to talk about–death, homosexuality, sex trafficking. Through her characters, she offers readers an opportunity to draw close, peel back the layers of their own hearts, and examine what lies within.
And added to the mix—romance, always a romance around one corner or another!
An alumna of Christian Writers Guild and member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Eileen has published several non-fiction books, written newsletters, a marriage column, and over ten church dramas. Her byline has appeared in magazines, such as Discipleship Journal, Marriage Partnership, Mature Living, Christian Home & School, Drama Ministry, and ParentLife, as well as other print and online publications. Her fiction works include Journey to Judah and Restored Hearts, recently released by OakTara. Chosen Ones, her third book in the Born for India trilogy is due out soon. She and husband, Chuck, a licensed professional counselor and marriage/family therapist conduct marriage seminars for churches and organizations in the States as well as overseas. They have three married children and six grandchildren. You can visit Eileen at www.eileenrife.com, www.guardyourmarriage.com, and www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com.
Come back Feb 11 for an excerpt from Eileen’s book, Journey to Judah.