Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Christian Devotions' & SPEAK UP! Radio's Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones

Cindy Sproles is the founder of Mountain Breeze Ministries and TINKERTIME Productions, a video trailer production company. She is a contributing writer to Novel Journey and Novel Reviews, and Christian Devotions. She writes for PML Programs and contributes to the Times-News.net. Her devotions are published weekly in a Knoxville, TN newspaper and are read by readers throughout Tennessee. She co-writes the He Said, She Said devotions with Eddie Jones which publish in Common Ground Christian Newspaper.

Eddie Jones has authored two non-fiction books and written hundreds of columns and articles that have appeared in over 20 different publications. He's served as cruising editor for Carolina Living, was regional editor for Embassy Marine's Mid-Atlantic Cruising Guide and has written articles for the Waterway Guide, Latitudes & Attitudes, Carolina Style, Lookout and Maritimes Magazine. He has an English degree from NC State, with an emphasis in journalism.

Eddie, we understand Christian Devotions was actually your brain child. Tell us how it came about.

Isaac Newton was under an apple tree when he discovered gravity. I was sitting under a willow tree when the idea for Christian Devotions hit me. The similarity of these two great events, plus the fact that I dated a girl whose last name was Newton, have nothing to do with your question but it does allow me to mention my name and Isaac Newton’s in the same sentence and I think that’s pretty awesome!

Seriously, I was sitting on a bench under our willow tree when I heard God whisper, check out the domain, “ChristianDevotions.com.” I went to my desk to see if it was available for purchase, discovered that .com was taken but .US was not, so I bought that one. Then for about two months I did nothing with it because I forgot about it.

Tell us what the mission of Christian Devotions is. I understand it's more than just devotions.

Our mission is to find professional writers who have said “yes” to God and coerce them into writing for little or no pay.

We’re also seeking new writers. This may seem like a contraction and it is but I think Lamaze and natural child birth are overrated. Opps, sorry. I meant to say contradiction. Stupid spell check. Where was I? Oh yeah, the new writers. We believe God is constantly nurturing new growth to replace the fruit that’s ripe and rotting. Not that professional writes are a rotten bunch. Well… maybe a few like that guy, whatshisname, the guy who wrote Mein Kampf. But my point is, fresh writers are the energy of this ministry.

Our second goal is promote Christian writing. I have no idea what that means but it sounds nice to say. All kidding outside, one of our aims is to help Christian writers sell more books, reach a larger audience and change the world for Christ.
us serious and took the ministry forward.

I understand you have video, audio, mp3.'s. Tell us about the incorporation of those venues and why you moved the website in that direction?

We use the major mediums of print, audio and video to reach our audience. If cell phones ever catch on we might try those, but they need to get the bugs worked out first. Our goal is present daily devotions in as many forms as possible. Like, say, a few weeks ago I asked Cindy if we should try posting the devotions in the clouds but she said our budget couldn’t support sky-writing. That gives you some idea of just how far out there we are.

How did Blog Talk Radio come into the ministry and what is your future plans for that venue?

Eddie: I’m sure you mean Christian Devotions, SPEAK UP! Blog Talk Radio just happens to be the hosting provider of the show. I attended the Book’em event in Waynesboro, Virginia last fall where I sold exactly no books. This happens sometimes. Actually, it happens just about every time I participate in one of these silly writing conferences. But I keep going back to the Book’em because it promotes reading among our youth and I’m all for that. I was a youth once and one day I hope to be one again. So, anyway, one of the speakers, Nikki Leigh, talked about virtual book tours which I thought was a really cool idea until I found out that it had nothing to do with time travel.

Her other suggestion was to start an online radio show. She said the hosting of the show was free which, as it turned out, was exactly how much money Cindy said I could spend on our next project. I signed up for an account and like everything else we’ve done, we moved forward without any idea of what we were doing. But God has provided. The shows are archived and can be heard for free on the Christian Devotions web site. In fact, I’ve added a best of Christian Devotions, SPEAK UP! that includes snippets some of the shows.

Tell us about the call to publish. Was this a joint decision between you and Cindy? Why did you start with the devotions on the site?

Eddie: Yes, it was a joint decision since anything that involves the risk of losing large sums of money must involve both of us. We started with the devotions on the site because we had enough great content to make one good book. Plus, we wanted the writers who’d supported us thus far to have the chance to actually earn some money from their writing. We offered to pay them for their devotion but a lot of the writers returned the money. Those silly Christians… they’re always so giving. Anyway, the writers can buy the book at a discounted price and sell it at retail, so they still get to make a little money off the project.

Weren't you worried about the economy? Why would you launch the ministry into a publishing venue when publishing houses are shifting employees or closing up shop?

I believe the Bible when it says God is the Word, he creates with words and His authority is the final word.

So when the people in the business of words recoil in fear, I figure it’s time to act like David and take on the giants. Of course, David ran the risk of losing his head and those in his camp probably thought he already had. Perhaps we’ve lost our minds, too, but if any book we publish causes someone to turn toward God then I think we’ve done the right thing.

What is next on the agenda for publishing for Christian Devotions as a publisher?

Eddie: Find the next Shack manuscript and publish it.

(Cindy: He’s such a goof. I say look for something more successful, like The Bible. That’s still a best seller, despite everything.) But we will be looking for something very unique.

Final words?

Cindy: So often folks attend writers conferences and when they leave they announce to the world they're starting a ministry. A few months later, the ministry has gone to the wayside. One of our hardest obstacles has been convincing the big dogs of Christian writing that we're serious. We are serious and passionate about the work that God has chosen us to do. He has opened the door a crack at a time and let us slip a toe in. When we stepped into the publishing aspect Eddie and I both knew the odds of failure were huge. Believe me, we had lots of well meaning folks advising us not to do it. But I think our own naivety has helped us.

You know, one of the overlooked aspects of David’s battle with Goliath was the fact that he wasn’t in the camp everyday hearing the drum beat of discouraging remarks. He off in the fields tending sheep. So I think sometimes it helps to come to a challenge with a clean heart that hasn’t been wounded by failure. Eddie kept saying, “God won't walk us into the river and let us drown.”

He was right. God has come through on every aspect of the ministry. And I believe, it’s because we do work hard to promote others. When you work for others; when you work with the heart of a servant, God works for you. We keep looking for unique ways to improve the site, for good writers and individuals willing to tithe of their time to help. And we’re open to anything within reason that will promote Christian writing and authors.

It's all about God and how we can be used to lead people to His word--either through listening to the radio show, reading the devotions or guiding them to good Christian worldview reading by authors who love the Lord fully.

We welcome submissions to the site (and we are particular about what is posted and the format). There are writer’s guidelines on the site, so check them out. We welcome unique people for radio interviews and we invite others to share in the fun. Christian Devotions is really one big (really big) family. We now host some 60 authors and their books on the site. Get to know us. Visit the site, send your friends to the site. This is how we grow the ministry and this is how we can promote our writers.

Oh, and thanks for having us on your site.

Eddie, any final words from you?

Yes, but after Cindy’s answer I forgot what they were.

Spirit and Heart: A Devotional Journey.

Spirit & HEART: A Devotional Journey is compilation of 30 author’s devotions. We were thrilled to have Yvonne Lehman, Virginia Smith, Ann Tatlock, Ariel Allison, Shelby Rawson, Loree Lough, Irene Brand and other Christian writers in this book. Along side of them, we placed new writers...writers who'd never been published. It takes the experience of a seasoned writer and couples it with new writers offering a great perspective. The mix was great.

Each devotion has a small journal section and corresponding building blocks of faith. We try to teach readers to develop that important intimate relationship with Christ by writing down how God speaks to them through the scripture or devotion, meditating on it and praying over it. We're pleased with our first effort and we look forward to the next. Spirit & HEART is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as Target.com. Of course they can order through our site www.devotionsbook.com and www.christiandevotions.us . We're working on Lifeway and Family Books. And when folks purchase this book the proceeds goes back into the ministry.


Gina Holmes said...

It's so exciting to see all the things God is doing in your lives. I'm so proud of you both!

pat jeanne said...

Thank you, Cindy and Eddie, for this interview. Also, for the good work over at Christian Devotions Ministry. I'm blessed by the many inspiring devotionals posted there. You're also doing a great work in helping to promote Christian authors and their work. Pat Jeanne Davis

Sheila Deeth said...

This was fascinating, and a fascinating introduction to "Christian devotions." I shall wander over there now. Thanks.

Nikki Leigh said...

I just saw your post. Eddie didn't tell me that he thought virtual tours had to do with time travel :) The interesting things we learn on blogs :) I'm glad the radio idea has worked out for you all :)

Nikki Leigh

Ane Mulligan said...

That is so cool! I'm going to buy a copy right now. :D Love you both!

Loree Lough said...

Cindy and Eddie...

I'm SO proud and honored to be affiliated with you both and the amazing, life-changing, soul-stirring ministry you've started.

I pray daily for its continued success and growth.

You guys just plain ROCK!