Buried under the covers, heart racing, I held my breath as I turned another page of my Nancy Drew novel. Will the stalker attack her? Will she be discovered? Oh no! She has just been whacked over the head by the bad guy. My nine-year-old heart froze: Will she survive?
As a child, books were my world. But not any old book. They needed a dark mystery to interest me. And browsing through the shelves of my school library, I began to discover some amazing authors of the genre. Not only were they writing mysteries but their stories were entwined with ghosts, spirits and magic. Something about those books stimulated my mind. I was spellbound, and fast forwarding some 20 years I saw myself at my desk writing mysterious ghost stories for children. I dreamed of the day I would become a well-known author. I imagined sitting at a book signing with hundreds of little fans clutching my book, waiting in line with their doting mothers to have me autograph it. I wanted to make a difference, leave a legacy and be known. I wanted my stories to empower children.
I wrote plenty. Every story I penned I confidently sent off to a publishing house, but my dream cracked with each rejection letter. What could I add to make them more sizzling? I pondered. They’re already dripping with mystery, spirits and ghosts.
Whom I serve
One afternoon, as I was driving home with my mother, I began complaining about yet another publishing house that didn’t want my story.
My mum was silent as I ranted. Then she enquired, “Why do you write about ghosts and spirits?”
“Because it’s exciting!”
“But, as Christians we don’t believe in any of that.”
Of course I knew that! “Writing is just make-believe. It isn’t true, it doesn’t need to be,” I responded.
“Esther,” she paused, letting my name linger in the air. “You can become an amazing, famous writer.”
I smiled as I absorbed her confidence in me; that’s exactly what I wanted!
Then she continued, “And you can become a great instrument in the hands of Satan.”
Excuse me? I tightened my grip on the steering wheel.
Oh, but she wasn’t finished.
“He can give you all the fame you want. But you would be writing for him and for his glory.”
“Why don’t you write books with a Christian theme instead?”
“For one, Christian books are boring! What am I going to write about? No way, I can’t!”
But even as I shunned the thought, the battle in my heart had begun.
All week her words, “You can become a great instrument in the hands of Satan,” tormented me. I could feel a battle raging within my soul. I didn’t have peace; everywhere I turned those words echoed. The battle was real! It was difficult to handle; I was going crazy.
One Saturday morning, upset that my peace had been disrupted, I knelt near my bed to pray. I knew what I had to say, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it. If I let go of my secular books, it meant my dreams to be an author were dead. I wrestled with God in turmoil until finally my heart shouted, “OK, God. I surrender!”
That was it. No fancy words, no elaborate prayer. Just the simple words, “I surrender.”
Then calmly I whispered, “Lord, I surrender. I will write for You.” Instantly the intense battle subsided, replaced with a serene peace that lingered.
My battle was over. I knew to Whom I belonged and needed to serve.
Five sisters, one heart
My desire to do more for God grew each day and I wanted to reach out and make a difference. I prayed for 12 months asking Him to show me what He wanted me to do. Then one day, in June 2011, He handed me a dream, beautifully wrapped with all its trimmings, ready to be untied.
When my younger sister, Steph, shared her idea of doing a Christian magazine for teen girls, I embraced the concept. I recognised that God was opening a door. I’d been around teen girls for many years and knew the struggles they faced with each new morning. Most were being held hostage by their own minds—trapped, confused, lonely and trying desperately to understand such things as anorexia and bulimia, comparison and sexual purity—subjects that, unfortunately, are pretty much ignored in polite Christian churches and homes.
My other sisters joined in the excitement, and the possibility of making a difference in someone’s life felt indescribable. In less than two months, our 5 Sisters Ministry was born, and so began our journey into the unknown waters of publishing. Many mistakes, heartaches and tears later, we were holding the first issue of GIGI (Gorgeous In God’s Image) magazine.
From the very beginning, GIGI’s aim has been to remind young women to value who they are, to respect themselves. It stands for more than physical beauty; it stands for who you are in Christ. When we believe that we are gorgeous in Him, one’s perspective in life changes. We are empowered through restoration.
5 Sisters called to do more
The popularity of the magazines was growing. Our teen girl readers and their families were emailing us and sharing testimonies of how God was helping them through GIGI. We were elated. God was working, restoring and empowering our girls.
Then in the midst of our elation, God spoke in our hearts that we needed to do more!
More? In March of 2013, we launched our first GIGI Rally, a one-day program for teen girls, their mums, aunts, friends and grandmothers. Each program is themed around issues that girls are going through—more than 180 girls have experienced music, drama and great speakers.
We also started a magazine for women 30+ called Forever Woman; then a magazine for little girls called Little Miss GIGI.
The hardest decision
But like all publishing, we were not immune to what was happening. Unfortunately, the dream came to an abrupt ending in September 2015, when we stopped printing the magazines due to lack of finance. However, we know God has a plan and is opening different doors to reach girls and women of all ages. Already this year things are happening. Meanwhile, we continue uplifting our girls via our GIGI blog, the workshops and Bible study books.
I think back on the past seven years and see how far God has brought me. Gone is the fear of writing for the Christian market. Now I know that I can make a difference, leave a positive legacy and empower girls through uplifting and godly articles. I love to write stories that enrich their lives and take them closer to the kingdom of God.
The most humbling experience for me has been to see just how popular my GIGI stories about women of the Bible have been with the girls. They claim that these stories are their favourites. So my life’s desire to write dark stories and mystery novels has been transformed into the desire to write to glorify only Him. And in that I’m honoured and complete.