ACRBA Tour Soul Friend by Jo-Anne Berthelsen

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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)

By

Jo-Anne Berthelsen

Available at Light the Dark for $16.95

9781922074492

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

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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.

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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!

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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 www.jo-anneberthelsen.com or www.soulfriend.com.au.

***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.