My name is Janice Keats. I am from Gander, NL. but now reside in Nova Scotia. I have been freelance writing for about 15 years and although I have to squeeze my writing into my busy schedule it is still very rewarding. I work full time and most evenings I either write, polish an article, or prepare book proposals to send to publishers. When I need a break from my computer I find myself sewing or creating jewelry.
My humble writing career began by writing poetry. When my file folder was full I thought it was time to put them all into a book form. I self-published, Poems of Inspiration and Occasion. It is still my best seller. I recently published, A Journey to the heart of Evangelism, Wipf and Stock Publishers, and a collection of my poems in an audio book , Poems of Inspiration and Occasion. It is so rewarding to see my work into print. I am really busy promoting my books but enjoyable at the same time. To view the book or to order a copy go to the publishers website at: www.wipfandstock.com or directly to Amazon:http://www.amazon.ca/tag/janice%20keats
My husband and I have 3 grown children who are all talented songwriters and musicians and all reside in the Maritimes. Our family continues to grow; we now have 5 grandchildren and are very blessed to see them all often.
I do hope you will find something to inspire and encourage you as you browse through my blog.
Make sure you scroll down to read my faith story following the book review…
Book Review…by Janet Sketchley
A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism, by Janice Keats (Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2009)
A confident young woman sits across from you and throws out a challenge: “Tell me why I should follow Jesus.”
You could probably tell her a few reasons, if you had time to think, but she’s asking now.
What Canadian author Janice Keats did in that situation was to share her own story of coming to faith. No debating or teaching or “shoulds,” just a personal experience that had credibility because she’d lived it.
Some people have amazing faith stories, complete with miracles and release from addictions. Others can’t remember a time when they didn’t know God.
A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism is for all types of Christians, and as the subtitle promises, each of us does have a story.
This is a slim book because our stories don’t need to be complicated – we just need to think through how to share them.
A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism maintains that although some are given the gift of evangelism, all are called to share Jesus’ message – with His help.
The five chapters are designed for personal or group study. Using Scripture, teaching, and application questions, the book addresses our many fears and excuses, and challenges us to live obedient to and dependent upon God.
By the end of the study, we’ll not only know why we need to be involved in sharing our faith stories, we’ll see it’s not as intimidating as we might have thought. And our faith will be refreshed by revisiting our experiences.
The final part of the book contains questions to help us discover and articulate what it is we want to say about this God who’s made a difference in our lives. There’s even a place to record the names of four people we want to remember to pray for and to share our stories with.
And like St. Peter says, we’ll “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have.” (1 Peter 3:15)
In A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism, Janice Keats has given us a helpful way to demystify sharing our faith: it’s about our stories, not about arguing or logicking people into the Kingdom. Most of us don’t have theology degrees, but we all have stories.
A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism is available from amazon.ca, amazon.com and from the Wipf & Stock website, and can be ordered into your brick and mortar store as well. For more about the author, visit her web page and her blog, The Master’s Path.
[Disclosure: Janice Keats is a personal friend, and that’s how I discovered her book. I think if it were written by a stranger I’d still speak as highly of the content. I like books that don’t just tell you what to do but – like this one – that equip you to do it.]
My Two Year Journey to Faith
Shortly following my conversion to Christ, I was invited to share my testimony in an evening church service. I began by saying, “Imagine becoming a Christian at the age of 30.” Afterwards a gentleman approached me and said, “Imagine becoming a Christian at the age of 60.” Wow! I was pleasantly surprised. I thought 30 was late in years. In fact, I had no intention of becoming a Christian or even seeking knowledge of Christianity. One of the reasons being, I just never had any connection in the first place. So, I lived my life as normal as it actually was. I didn’t have a Christian upbringing.
My husband and I lived in Fort McMurray in the early 1980’s. Our 3 children were born there. After awhile I began to feel desperately lonely. I wanted my children to be surrounded by family and the only way that could happen was to move back east. With some persuading my husband did agree to take the risk but now it meant that my husband had to look for employment elsewhere.
Soon after our move back to NL, my mother-in-law suggested that I take my children to Sunday school. Like a good Mom I sent them with someone else. It wasn’t long before I was going along to watch my children’s performances in choir and other events at the church. From the very first service I felt something within me that I hadn’t felt before. I couldn’t describe it because I didn’t know what it was. But it made me curious enough to want to go back and try to decipher the experience.
It wasn’t long before I became involved in church activities myself, initially as a guide leader. My quest to understand the emotional churning that was going on in my heart intensified. So my search took on a deeper meaning. I borrowed books and tapes from friends. In my own secret mission, I studied Christians at church to try and discover what brought them joy. I watched Christian TV programs, and I purchased Christian material. I simply wanted to know what was going on.
I remember one tape in particular of a former convict, Ernie Hollands, whom I listened to many times. He was sharing God’s word and all of a sudden he said, “stop that car, stop your bicycle or whatever you are doing; stop and give your heart to God.” Well, I wasn’t really dressed for the occasion, I was baking and preparing supper and was wearing an apron. What was I supposed to do? Turn off the stove and fall to my knees with dough filled hands? I was so touched by the Holy Spirit’s presence I began to pace the floor. Then I shut off the tape player abruptly. Amazingly, several weeks following my conversion, I heard a voice coming from the television in my living room as I was once again engaged in kitchen activities. I had tuned in to 100 Huntley Street and I suddenly heard a very familar voice. I briskly walked into the living room to see if it was the same person who I listened to so many times on the cassette tape. It was indeed! I knew it was the same voice I had been listening to when I played the tape. It was Mr Hollands himself being interviewed. I’m still amazed how I recognized his voice.
Although I was being ministered to by song and the tape ministry, I hadn’t yet yielded to God. I was rapidly becoming discouraged with the so-called torment I was finding myself in. I was searching for peace without realizing it. I was trying to live the right way in hopes that was the answer. I even practised the sinners’ prayer to see if that would make the aching heart go away. Nothing happened. I struggled with the reality of choosing to allow myself to find the solution of my longing to know Christ. I remember asking my friend one day, “Why is it that when I’m in church I feel really good, and when I’m away from the church the loneliness and emptiness that I feel comes back again?” She replied, “You know Jan, you can take Jesus home with you.”
I wanted to be free of the heartache. I needed to surrender to God. I was yearning for Jesus to come into my life but coming to the point of surrender felt like walking against 100-kilometer-and-hour winds. Somehow I couldn’t reach Him; I lacked the courage and faith. My friends outside the church were noticing a change in me; the peer pressure increased. They were baffled at the half good, half bad Jan they were seeing. Little did they know the struggle in my heart – a struggle I could not share with them. I felt drawn like a magnet to my church; yet the closer I came to the foot of the cross, the more difficult it was to trust God fully with my life.
It had been two years from that very first Sunday of ‘unknowingly’ and later ‘knowingly’ searching for that something which was tugging at me, I realized I had to make a decision. I needed to surrender to God who was prompting me all along. One particular Sunday evening I went to my room to pray for courage and strength to make a decision for Him. I had enough knowledge by now that I could decide to follow Christ at any time and any place but I wanted the special experience to be in my church among my new peers.
When I went to church that night, my moment had come. As the congregation stood in worship I began to crumble. It was my final struggle. My legs weakened and my heart was pounding. A friend noticed me and all he said was, “God bless you, Jan.” With that I asked him to lead me to the Lord. I immediately felt the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus entered my life. What an incredible sense of freedom I experienced. I’d been carrying a burden for so long; suddenly it was gone! Now I realized after all this time who was knocking on my hearts door!
My immediate reaction was, now I know for myself that God is real! And no one can argue otherwise. I developed a good habit of prayer and reading my Bible. Each moning after the kids went off to school Iwould take time to read the Bible quietly. One particular morning I had a question for God. As I was sitting in my living room reading, I quickly closed the Bible and wondered, “Why is it that I have to pray to God anyway? Why do I have to do this every day?” (You see my previous morning routine was drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.) All of a sudden a Scripture verse came to my mind. It was Job 21:15 “Who is the Almighty that we should serve Him? What would we gain by praying to Him?”
Yikes! I didn’t know that God really spoke to people. I thought I was talking to myself. That was the first time that I experienced God in a conversation. It was both startling and awesome to actually witness God speaking to me through His Word. I discovered that I had the gift of evangelism. I shared my story with many people. I felt compelled to tell people that I found Jesus. During the first year of my conversion I led 13 people to the Lord. It was the simple sharing of my experience, it was my faith in God, and it was the joy I now experience every day. My faith in God increased as I attended Bible study and gradually grew in His grace. I have since led various Bible study groups and other outreach events.
It’s amazing how God can bring out the best in you. My writing career began immediately after I made a decision for Christ. I wrote a poem about my testimony. Can you guess the title? It is called, Where is God? When my file folder became too thick, I self-published a poetry book which was my first of 3 books and remains my personal best seller. Over the years, I have grown so much as a Christian. My main interest is writing and teaching and communicating the Gospel with others and planning evangelism seminars. I have asked God to use me over and over again and like one of my friends had said to me, “be careful what you pray for because God will answer.” My favourite Bible verse is found in Psalm 20:4 which reads, “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
I am so thankful to be employed with a Christian organization. It means so much to be able to fulfill the Christian mission of simply sharing God’s love with the people I come into contact with. I often refer to myself, as being a “late bloomer” for God, since I thought 30 was old. In fact now that I think of it, 40 and 50 is not really old either. I encounter people of all ages at my workplace. I also encounter people who have so many various circumstances of need, which requires a tender listening heart. Age is not a barrier to making a decision to follow Christ. In fact, my uncle was 82 when he received Christ. Neither is the lack of knowledge of God a barrier to making a decision. God invites us to come to Him as we are. For me it was a learning process, and I certainly did not have complete understanding what God was all about. I learned and developed my walk with God on a daily basis.
You may be wondering about your relationship with God as I did. Perhaps God has spoken to your heart during a church service and yet resisted for some reason. You may ask , “Why do I have to serve You?” as I had. God provided answers for me and He will do the same for you. It all came down to trusting Him enough to yield to Him. I once penned a quote that says, “You need not have great faith to meet Jesus, you just need enough to say Yes.” Allow God to draw near and allow Him to use your talents, even if you are 40, 60 or 80. Once you make a decision to follow, He will take you by the hand and lead you His way and yes, He may even surprise you when he answers your prayers!