The Heavens Declare

by Jo D. Brennan

The coast of Tanzania in East Africa gradually faded in the clouds as the jet traversed the ocean. Finally Jo could see it no longer. She leaned back and closed her eyes as her tears fell. After eighteen years serving God in that beloved country she was leaving, due to an illness caused by long emotional stress.

Three questions occupied her mind.

  • What had brought about this terrible day?
  • Would she ever come back to Africa?
  • Was it her own fault?


JO D. BRENNAN was born in Leura, NSW and grew up in Sydney. An art student, she later trained as a nurse at RPA before studying at Deaconess House for 2 years. She spent 18 years in Tanzania, East Africa, as a missionary with CMS from 1962-1980. In 1988 she returned to Africa, this time Liberia,  but was evacuated in 1990 from Liberia to England, where she lived for 6 months.

Jo Brennan 1Jo D. Brennan and Joy Crombie (missionary from SIM, New Zealand)

In 1990 Jo went to Sri Lanka, where she worked with Columbo City Mission. During this time they  opened a medical clinic in a poor area and cared for street children, leaving in 1995 for Australia. She also wrote her first book, I Heard a Voice, in 1995. In 2002 she wrote The Twin’s Secret for 8-12 year olds. The Heavens Declare, Jo’s biography, was published in 2012 by Ark House Press.

Jo’s book, The Heavens Declare, is available at:

ACRBA Tour Soul Friend by Jo-Anne Berthelsen

acrba button1

18 – 22 February 2013

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

Is Introducing

Soul Friend: The Story of a shared Spiritual Journey

(Even Before Publishing October 2012)


Jo-Anne Berthelsen

Available at Light the Dark for $16.95


About the Book
Soul Friend is an honest and intimate portrayal of the author’s own journey with her wise, spiritual mentor and the warm, life-giving relationship that developed between them during their fifteen years of meeting together. This story is written in the hope that it will inspire many not only to seek out such a spiritual friendship for themselves but also to provide such a friendship for another.
“Beautifully written, this honest and insightful memoir is an inspiring celebration of the ancient art of spiritual companionship.” Dr Rick Lewis
“Soul friendship is a very under-emphasised resource of Christian discipleship, particularly for Christian leaders. Jo-Anne has written honestly, beautifully, sensitively and powerfully.” Dr Keith Farmer


About the Author

Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves communicating through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of five published novels – Heléna, All the Days of My LifeLauraJenna andHeléna’s Legacy, with a sixth, The Inheritance, due for release in 2013. Her first non-fiction work Soul Friend: The story of a shared spiritual journey was released in October 2012. Jo-Anne loves music, reading, mentoring younger women, and sharing with community groups about writing. She is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren.

Narelle: Soul Friend is a beautiful story of an extraordinary friendship that developed over fifteen years between Jo-Anne and her spiritual mentor, Joy. We journey with Jo-Anne as she embarked on a new phase in her ministry including theological studies, pastoral work and five published novels. Jo-Anne recalled her initial meetings with Joy and how their friendship was a blessing in many ways.

I enjoyed Jo-Anne’s conversational writing style and I found Soul Friend easy to read. Jo-Anne was honest as she shared personal issues and spiritual struggles that she encountered while seeking to follow God’s will for her life. Her friendship with Joy challenged her to question many of her core beliefs that formed the foundation for important decisions in her ministry work. Joy showed unconditional love, wisdom and care for Jo-Anne as they developed a trusting and authentic relationship. I was encouraged and inspired by watching their unique friendship evolve and seeing God at work in their lives. I highly recommend this book to those looking for role models on how to build and nurture mutually beneficial relationships with spiritual mentors.

The joy and privilege of writing

by Jo-Anne Berthelsen

Thank you for having me share in this blog today, not only about my fiction writing journey, but also about my latest book, Soul Friend, my first work of non-fiction.


I have been writing now for over nine years. I have had various occupations in my life, all of which I felt were what God wanted me to do at the time. But always there was this desire in me to write. Eventually, in 2003, I felt God showed me from Scripture that it was time to begin my first novel that had been in my mind and heart for so long—around twenty years, in fact. I began writing Heléna, which in the end became my first two novels! I wrote and wrote—and the whole experience was both cathartic and fulfilling for me.

My first two novels were released in 2007 and 2008, followed by three more, Laura (2009), Jenna (2010) and Heléna’s Legacy (2011). But which direction to head next? I wrote a sixth novel, The Inheritance, but then the challenge came, I believe from God, to write a memoir about my own journey with my spiritual friend and mentor, Joy. One day, someone gave me a copy of Mitch Albom’s book Tuesdays with Morrie. As I began reading it, I sensed a prompting in my spirit to write about my visits with Joy and how much our relationship had impacted my journey through theological college and the ministry role the followed, as well as my current roles of writer and speaker. After thinking and praying about it further and mentioning the idea to Joy, I took the plunge and launched myself into yet another story—this time, my own!

And that was when the challenges began to come. As I sifted through my journal entries that recorded many of my visits to Joy and the reflections that followed, I realised I would have to decide how vulnerable I was prepared to be. Was it wise to share this thought or that struggle I had had? Would it benefit anyone else? And would Joy feel happy about what I had written?

Another big challenge was the whole matter of honesty and integrity. This time around, I was not writing a novel. I could not make the story up or invent characters! After all, Joy and I are real people and I could not embellish the truth of what had happened in my journey or in our relationship. I wanted to be able to stand by all I had written and I wanted it to have that ring of truth about it.

I’m so glad I persevered. Each time I receive an email from a reader, telling me how much Soul Friend has blessed and encouraged them, I am thankful to God. I also send these on to Joy, who is now eighty-three, to encourage her and show her how so many things she shared with me are now blessing others. How wonderful our God is! And how privileged I feel to have been given this opportunity in my life to write both fiction and non-fiction!

Jo 12

JO-ANNE BERTHELSEN lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves communicating through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of five published novels, with a sixth due for release in 2013.

Her first non-fiction work Soul Friend: The story of a shared spiritual journey was released in 2012. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit or

***On Thursday, Jo-Anne’s non-fiction book Soul Friend will be featured on our blog (including a book recommendation) as part of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA) book tour.

ACRBA – Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby by Ray Hawkins

19 – 23 November
is introducing

Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby (31 Day Devotional)

(Even  Before Publishing November 2012)
About the Author:
Ray Hawkins

Ray Hawkins, retired after over 40 years as a Churches of Christ minister, enjoys sharing themes from the Scriptures through Devotional writing. Married to Mary, multi-published inspirational romance author, they have three children and five grandchildren. Ray shares his insights in his first two books on Marriage and Children with more ideas to come about ministry and much more. Living in Beauty Point Tasmania Ray heads up a new Christian Fellowship as well as doing relief preaching, community work and writing.
Book Description:

Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby (31 Day Devotional)

Short Book Description: In 31 daily devotional meditations Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby takes you out of a sentimental nativity scene and into a contest with eternal significance.

It walks you through God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 of Someone coming and the clues to His identity in the old Testament. You become aware that in the
Christmas event that ‘Someone’ has come.

I believe Christmas is the culmination of Heaven’s countdown to reclaim men, women and creation from the tyranny of sin, death and Satan. The cost involved to God to achieve this should make the reader bow in awe and gratitude.
Narelle: I am a fan of Ray Hawkins’ devotion books and Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby lived up to my expectations. I really like how Ray is able to explain complex theological concepts in a way that is easy to understand.
The devotions look at how Jesus’ time on Earth fits into God’s plan of salvation for the world. We read verses in both the Old and New Testaments to help us understand why Christmas is truly a time of great celebration. Jesus’ birth is put into historical context. The prophesy and events recorded in the Old Testament pointing to Jesus’ arrival as our Lord and Saviour are explored in the devotions.
Each devotion starts with a Bible reading and concludes with a prayer. I highly recommend Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby to those looking to gain a fuller understanding of who Jesus is and the true  meaning of Christmas from a Biblical perspective. I also believe this devotion book would be useful for seekers and those wanting to learn more about Jesus and his role in God’s plan of salvation.   
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

2012 CALEB Prize winners

Omega Writers Inc. have announced the winners of the 2012 Caleb Prize:


Cameron Semmens (ed.), for The Zoo in You


Shan Joseph for The Easter Story


Andrew Lansdown for Allsorts

Reviewer’s Choice

Henry McElligott for The Broken Restored

Bookseller’s Choice

Rose Dee for Back to Resolution

CALEB Unpublished Manuscript Winner

Song of the Outback by Susan Timpani


No award was made

Fiction finalists:

Ellenvale Gold by Amanda Deed

A Simple Mistake by Andrea Grigg

Against the Unknown by Graham Carter

Broken Pottery by Jennifer Ann


Congratulations to all the winners!

You can learn more about Omega Writers Inc. and the CALEB Prize here.

Encouraging kids to read the Bible

by Narelle Atkins

One of the challenges I face as a parent is how to encourage my kids to read the Bible. Sometimes the sheer size of a Children’s Bible can be intimidating plus the decision on where to start reading can be time consuming in itself.

I recently came across a great little resource from Bible Society Australia called Top 10 Bible Stories From Mark. It’s a small book, 68 pages, written and illustrated in a way that will appeal to kids. There are ten chapters that cover the main stories in the Gospel of Mark.

I really liked the cute cartoon-style illustrations that drew out the main point in each story. The stories themselves are not para-phrased but are taken from The Bible Today – Contemporary English Version. It’s a fun way for kids to read the Bible and learn more about the Gospel of Mark.

More information on Bible resources for kids can be found at and

Winner of Ray Hawkins’ book and Bible Quiz giveaway

Congratulations to Heidi who is the winner of Ray Hawkins’ devotion book Children: God’s Special Interest.

You all have until midnight on Monday, June 25 (AEST) to enter our June Bible Quiz. We’re giving away two copies of our People of the Old Testament: Judah and Tamar, Rahab eBook leader’s guide. One copy to the quiz winner and a second copy to someone who comments on the June 20 Bible Quiz post and attempts to answer at least one of the quiz questions. More information can be found on our June 20 Bible Quiz and eBook giveaway  post .

Book Recommendation and book giveaway – Children: God’s Special Interest by Ray Hawkins

Back Cover Blurb:

31 Biblical devotions on God’s Heart for Children. Ray Hawkins has a heart for children. In these devotions he quotes scripture and helps us really meditate on God’s heart for children. Rediscover God’s Word about children. Refresh your heart with God’s love for Children. Rekindle passion to be their example for Christ honour. Reflect on God’s special Interest.

Narelle: Ray Hawkins illuminates scripture by showing us what the Bible has to say about children and parenting. Each devotion is grounded in Biblical truth and provides us with an understanding of the magnitude of God’s deep and abiding love for His precious children. We learn about the special responsibilities given to parents and carers regarding how they can love and nurture the children in their care.

Practical parenting tips and pearls of wisdom are included and the devotions are written in an easy to read conversational style. The Reflection/Action section at the end of each devotion challenges us to think about our relationships with the children in our lives and how we can put into practice Godly principles. I highly recommend this devotion, especially to parents and carers.

Today we are giving away a print copy of Children: God’s Special Interest to a reader with an Australian mailing address who comments on this post before midnight on Tuesday, June 19  (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Please include your name with your comment and leave an email address [ ] at [ ] dot [ ] where you can be reached or remember to check our blog post on Thursday, June 21 when we will announce the winner. You can follow our blog by email, Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page to receive notifications of new blog posts. We will do a redraw if we are unable to contact the giveaway winner by the end of June.

“Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.”

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Sample the beginning of this book for FREE at