May 01, 2016

What Is Your “Vineyard” of Words? By Sandi Somers

Our InScribe member Marcia Laycock, wrote:  “As writers of faith, we have chosen a field of words. Whether we are writing poems or novels, articles or songs, we are planting a vineyard with our words, a vineyard that will provide nourishment, encouragement and perhaps even redemption to those who read our work. It is a vineyard that will reach into eternity.” 

                        Writing for an International Audience

Several years ago, a friend and I attended a writers’ retreat which was part of a Caribbean cruise. Before the cruise, I asked the question, “How can God use my writing to touch people from around the world?”  It seemed like a strange question, because I knew that with the internet, my articles could be accessed from any point around the world. Still, I felt God had something special in mind for me.

International staff on the cruise ship

 As we started our cruise, I discovered the staff and crew members were mostly international, from sixty-three countries. Most were people-oriented, compassionate and fun-loving, and I found it easy to strike up a conversation with them.

That first afternoon, I met Musa, a Zulu from South Africa, at our safety drill. He was pleasantly shocked when I greeted him with, “Sawubona!” a Zulu greeting I had learned on my trip to South Africa the year before. My room attendant, Sarunrat from Thailand, told me about employee lifestyle, working up to fourteen hours a day and living in staff quarters in the lower decks of the ship.  

Significant conversations

Conversations sometimes turned to personal needs. Harvey from the Philippines, holding his tray of drinks in the buffet restaurant, shared his loneliness, even as cruise participants and activities swirled around him. A believer, he spent much of his free time alone in worship and prayer.  Maria, away from her family in Mexico for the first time, was homesick. Hussein from Pakistan was due shortly for a home leave and was anxious to meet his six-month-old daughter for the first time. I prayed for the needs of these people.

Prayer with an attendant

 Then one evening when I returned to my floor, Carlos from Honduras, one of the room attendants, needed a compassionate ear. His supervisor had just reprimanded him. Though Carlos was an experienced attendant, this was his first week on our cruise ship, and he needed to learn new procedures. I hugged him, and together we prayed that God would help him adjust to his new environment and work competently. “Praise the Lord!” he concluded.

A Ministry of devotional readings

Towards the end of our cruise, I wondered how I could further encourage my international friends. I had brought several of my published devotionals with me, and gave one to each of those staff members. I prayed that those readings would meet strategic needs.
God had answered my question, “How can I write for an international audience?” in a way I would never have imagined.

I will never know the impact those readings have had. But as I think back to that experience, I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words:

“I planted and Apollos watered; but it was God who was, all the time, giving the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6 Weymouth NT),

My part is to be faithful in what God has called me to do with my writing. And God will do the rest.

Prompt: Now it's your turn. What outreach or ministry opportunities has God given you through your writing? How have your words provided nourishment, encouragement or redemption to someone else?


  1. I always look forward to the new theme each month - especially in anticipation of how you will treat it. I absolutely loved the examples you shared of how God used you on that cruise. It was very inspiring.

  2. Thanks for your affirmation, Tracy. I actually based this blog post on an article I wrote after the cruise. It was chosen as the winner from all the writing seminar participants. God works in mysterious ways!!

  3. Thanks for this uplifting blog, Sandi. Like Tracy, I also look forward to your introduction to each new theme. I appreciate how God used your pre-cruise question as a prayer. You asked, "How can God use my writing to touch people from around the world?" God understood your willingness and gave you amazing opportunities to share his words of love and encouragement with an international community.

    Thanks also to Marcia for her "vineyard of words" idea. Excellent "food for thought" and for writing.

    Note to Fellow InScribers: After our Third Annual Move, I am without Internet for I don't know how long. I have been unable to read the last couple weeks of blogs. Hopefully, I will catch up when I am reconnected with the Wonderful World Wide Web. (I know the web is not all wonderful, but what you folks write are the sweetest of grapes, and I miss reading them.) I am presently writing with a friend at a restaurant where I can access the Internet.

  4. This is beautiful Sandi--how you faithfully followed the Holy Spirit's leading and ministered to these international staff members. So encouraging. Thanks for sharing this with us.


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