Saturday, June 20, 2009

A View from Jeanette Windle's Window about Veiled Freedom!

Jeanette Windle has written some incredibly powerful stories, but her latest, Veiled Freedom, was the most amazing thing I've ever read. Not only is the story timely, but it will change the way you view the conflict in the Middle East, and it will renew your desire to share Christ with others as never before!

Thus it is with great pleasure that I share with you a recent interview I completed with Jeanette regarding her latest novel. You can go here to read my review, and visit the author's website to learn more about her other great stories!

Please, welcome Jeanette Windle to my Window!

1. I’ve read that you have been questioned because of the accuracy of your depiction of Afghanistan intelligence…and after reading Veiled Freedom, I can certainly understand why! Can you share with us the birth of the idea behind the book and where and how you did the research?

I should clarify that I have been questioned concerning material for more than one of my books, but Veiled Freedom isn't one of them. As to how I did the research, that was a combination. I can honestly say that if I missed a single tome dealing with Afghanistan's present or past, as well as Western involvement there, it wasn't on purpose. Check out my blog for a recommended reading list. Add in my own sojourn in Afghanistan (don't ask for details; I went deliberately under the radar), as well as extensive input from contacts on the ground who are real-life counterparts of my characters: Special Ops, private security, humanitarian aid, Afghanis, etc. Additional research tools like Google alerts, local news and blogs, security and embassy info coming out of Afghanistan kept me daily updated during the writing process.

As to the idea behind Veiled Freedom, I can say that despite the ugliness of war, I rejoiced in the post-9/11 overthrow of Afghanistan's Taliban. Like so many reading this interview, I believed it presaged new hope for freedom and peace in that region. Neither freedom nor peace ever materialized. Instead today's headlines reflect the rising violence, corruption, lawlessness and despair. The signing of Afghanistan's new constitution, establishing an Islamic republic under sharia law--and paid for with U.S. dollars and the blood of Western coalition soldiers--tolled a death knell for any hope of real democracy. And yet the many players I've met in this drama have involved themselves for the most part with the best of intentions. The more I came to know the region and love its people, I was left asking, "Can outsiders ever truly purchase freedom for another culture or people?"

That question birthed Veiled Freedom. If trillions of dollars in aid, all the weapons the West can bring to bear, and a lot of genuine goodwill as well aren't enough to bring about lasting peace and democracy, then what is the true source of freedom--and its cost?

2. The ex-soldiers make some pretty telling statements. For example:

On page 342 Steve says: “But if we don’t quit making deals with the enemy, we’re going to compromise ourselves literally to death, at least as far as freedom of conscience goes. Because unlike us, they have no intention of compromising. Why should they when we’re happy to do that for them?”

On page 480 Philip says: “They just don’t think like we do, not about what’s right or wrong or anything else. And that’s a problem. Because if we don’t get what makes these people think, even why this guy would change his mind today, we’re fooling ourselves if we think we can turn things around here.”

Now, as a US citizen married to a former US Army Officer, I feel like the above statements are accurate reflections of servicemen. Do you think we understand this as a country? Does our leadership grasp this? Or do you think leadership is operating on a very different level?

I believe--and certainly I hope--that many in our country do 'get it' individually. Whether our leadership grasps it or not, they are definitely operating a different level. The United States and 'free West' as a whole had no problem taking a strong stand on human rights issues like freedom of speech and freedom of worship when it was against Communist regimes and the Soviet Union. Yet somehow when it comes to the Islamic world, we are arming, provisioning, and propping up regimes that by their very definition permit no freedom of worship, speech, thought, association. Apostasy (i.e., any person whose ancestors converted to Islam, whether at the point of a sword or willingly, is apostate if they choose any other faith) and blasphemy (i.e., any thought, question, or action considered insulting to Islam or the mullahs who enforce it) are both death sentences under sharia law, including Iraq and Afghanistan, where Western coalition money has paid for their new governments. Not to mention key allies like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, UAE, Dubai. All of them terrible human rights abusers when it comes to freedom of conscience or worship. For a better discussion than I have room for here, check out my blog column, 'Is Democracy Enough' at

3. Within the story, it’s obviously a 7th century religious viewpoint vs. a 21st century democratic viewpoint…and our country has been so vigilant about removing God from our democracy that it seems impossible to conceive that our country could ever fully grasp the difference. Am I wrong to feel this way? Or is my viewpoint inaccurate?

God can only be removed from our democracy when a majority of citizens remove God from their lives. If that becomes the case, fighting to keep God 'in' our public life is an exercise in futility. I have to say I don't lose sleep at night over how much God is in our public or legislative life. Mainly because the places I've been privileged to see the body of Christ growing rapidly and standing strong do not and have never had government support for their faith. Many of their governments are, in fact, openly hostile to those who follow Isa Masih (Jesus Christ). It is the faith and love, godly lives and compassion for others Christians display that is impacting their society and bringing others to faith, not what laws they can pass.

Right now in our nation, we can rejoice that unlike so many other countries, we are as free to follow God as our fellow citizens are to reject Him. When that changes, we should start to worry. Meanwhile, if we want to see our nation turn to God, it won't happen through legislating those outside the church to live moral lives or support scriptural principles (the Apostle Paul had a lot to say on that subject in 1 Corinthians 5:9-12), but through revival and transformation within the church. Which isn't to say committed Christians shouldn't be involved in the political process.

4. Despite the religious and political differences, you do a great job of reflecting how God’s sovereign hand can and does work through our very complex human circumstances to accomplish what no one else could ever do. How important do you think it is for Christians to understand this truth? How can we fully understand that love really can be enough even within the restrictive, unfair practices of sharia law?

As referenced above, Jesus did not set out to overthrow the corrupt empire in which he found himself nor to legislate laws to make its citizens be good. He came to change hearts, to set into motion a 'kingdom of heaven' that would transform this world from the inside out, not from the top down. "The world will know you are my followers if you love each other," he told his disciples (John 13:35). Bottom line, when enough individual hearts change from hate to love, cruelty to kindness, greed to selflessness, their society will be transformed as well. It's that simple, whether we're talking a totalitarian sharia regime or the materialistic hedonism of our own culture. Change a heart, change a nation.

5. I loved the way you naturally included the differences between the Quran and the Bible in the ongoing interaction between Amy and Jamil. What kind of research did that require? How did it affect your own faith? How did it affect the way you feel about reaching out to those who practice Islam?

I did do a lot of research, though my mental data banks already contained quite a bit about Islam. I will say that, as with all my books, the faith walk of the characters was birthed out of my own, and it wasn't uncommon to find me flat on my face before God with tears streaming down my cheeks as I wrote the scenes that most deeply reflect that faith journey. I wouldn't say writing Veiled Freedom affected so much how I feel about those who reach out to Muslims, since our own ministry works extensively in closed and hostile countries. To see 1.3 billion people under Islamic totalitarianism at least have the opportunity to know--or reject--Isa Masih has long been my heart cry. But writing Veiled Freedom has certainly impelled me to more prayer for that part of the world, Afghanistan especially. I will never forget sitting in a 'like-minded' prayer time in Kabul (as necessarily behind closed doors in the current regime as under the Taliban). A woman was praying that God raise His hedge of protection against the power of the Prince of Persia. The hair stood up on my arms as it suddenly sank home that I was literally sitting in ancient Persia, territory of the same demonic prince (see Daniel 10) who was powerful enough to hold off for twenty-one days the angel sent to answer Daniel's prayer. Only when Michael the Archangel entered the fight was that angelic messenger able to break through. That experience above all motivated me to pray deeply and constantly for those serving the living God in the midst of such a spiritual war zone.

6. What is the most effective way for Christians to serve/pray/reach out during this time of conflict? The past elections have vividly reflected the division that exists among the people of our country. What can we do to make a difference here and abroad?

We do need to pray, both for those facing persecution or needing God's love in hostile environments and for a renewal of faith within our own nation. We also need to speak out on issues of human rights and freedom of speech and worship in countries receiving our tax dollars and military aid. The unwillingness of our leadership to require any accountability is seen as weakness and lack of moral fiber by the corrupt regimes we are propping up as well as by the armed opposition and Islamic extremists. As you quoted above, why should they compromise when we are happy to do so.

7. What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Any words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

I am excited about the privilege my husband and I have to be working with other believers literally around the world, now that my husband is president of a ministry that has more than 750 ministry personnel and thousands of volunteers from over 40 countries serving in close to 60 on five continents. We partner with such incredible people who serve as the hands and feet and heart of Jesus Christ under the most difficult of circumstances. There is nothing more beautiful and inspirational than seeing the body of Christ in action.

On a personal side, as a lifetime global nomad, I always enjoy tucking new countries under my belt. My husband and I will be in Eastern Europe this fall with our ministry leaders there. In November I will be in Kenya, another first, to participate in Littworld, the global Christian publisher/writer conference, this time sponsored by the African association of Christian publishers.

1 comment:

Mocha with Linda said...

Great, great interview, Kim!

And I LOVED question 4 (and 3) and her answer. There are a couple of folks in my Bible Study class who get all wrapped up in knots about what they think needs to be done from a political standpoint, and I have made this point several times. Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles lived in a horrific society. They didn't try to change the system. They focused on individuals and changing hearts.

I'm putting away my soapbox now...!