About the book:
A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Liraised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Lis family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Lis parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted. It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name, Truth, and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu Lord Jesus and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets. Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards.
Red Ink follows a number of people and their spiritual journeys. Interestingly enough, I've been following stories of the persecuted church in China while reading this book. But the story is not just about China. Julia, an elderly woman, and her friend and prayer partner Laura are American senior citizens who are compelled to pray for people in China. Their urges to pray coincide with persecution, which the reader knows about when the setting reverts to China. Paralleling this story is another one about a young teen who is being manipulated by a man who intends to sell her as a sex slave.
Red Ink is about unconditional love, ultimate sacrifice, and faithful allegiance to the one true God, Tian Fu. The female prisoner in China, Zhen-Lei, whose name means truth, is compelled to serve her Savior even in prison, and to love even the people who have abused and betrayed her as Christ compelled her to do. She suffered, and yet she sought Christ's comfort and strength. Her story is powerful, and the impact it had on the people who knew her in China was life-changing because of her obedience to God's direction each step of the way. His plan and purpose is much greater than hers and the impact is felt by those around her. I loved the subplot with her cell mate Mei and how their relationship changed over the course of the book. That was powerful story as well.
In Red Ink, there is not a happy ending for everyone, but then again, this book is about persecution in the church, not happily ever after. The parallel story with Maggie and her crotchety grandma Margaret was pretty intense, as well very edgy, which I loved. It was amazing how these stories dovetailed together and complimented each other. The bottom line is that praying for people who are being persecuted is always effective, and listening to God's call to love the unlovable is a powerful weapon against ultimate destruction. Other than the occasional confusion over the many Chinese names (which I was able to keep straight about halfway through this book) and the numerous points of view, I found this story to be compelling and easy to follow. This novel is full of spiritual food for thought and is sure to nourish people who read it.
Here are a few words from the author, Kathi Macias, about why she writes...
I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and fiction has always been my focus. But journalism training sent me off into nonfiction, as did the curriculum work I did at Gospel Light Publishing years ago. Though I published a handful of novels over the past couple of decades, primarily I wrote nonfiction—until recently.
Joan Hochstetler at Sheaf House published my stand-alone novel My Son, John a couple of years ago, dealing with a woman whose son is arrested for the murder of his grandmother. It is anything but an easy read, but the responses I’ve received from readers who were able to reach a place of forgiveness as a result of the book spurred me on to write more of what I call “issues-related fiction.”
New Hope Publishers, which has been publishing my nonfiction for a while, agreed with me to launch a first-ever “fiction with a mission” line this year, using my four-book Extreme Devotion series as their opening books. This series deals with the persecuted Church around the world, with each book set in a different country (South Africa, Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia) and loosely based on real-life stories of modern-day martyrs of the faith. Three of those four books have released, with book four in production, and we have just begun the next issues-related fiction series: the Freedom Series, a three-book set of novels based on the topic of human trafficking. In addition, I co-authored a stand-alone historical novel with Susan Wales titled Valeria’s Cross, dealing with the persecuted Church in the third century.
Again, none of these novels is an easy read. They will, however, challenge readers and, hopefully, make them a bit uncomfortable with “business as usual” and encourage them to launch out a bit deeper in various areas of ministry, even as they find some of their own very deep and very real hurts healed in the process. I’ve been teaching about this type of fiction writing at conferences lately, titling it “Do You Have Issues with Fiction? If Not, Maybe You Should!” and the response has been tremendous.
Hearts are healed, not in the comfort zones of life, but in the trenches—the types of places Jesus would go if He still walked the earth today. Do I believe there’s a need for this type of writing? Absolutely! And I hope you’ll join me in it…both as readers and writers!
***Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is a radio host, a popular speaker at women’s retreats and writers’ conferences, and an award-winning author of more than 30 books, including her most recent releases, Red Ink and Valeria’s Cross. She and her husband, Al, live in Southern California where they spend their free time riding Al’s Harley—hence, Kathi’s “road name” of Easy Writer.