Can you imagine the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law? Jana Kelley explores modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan in her new book, Door to Freedom. In the Islamic country of Sudan, Mia has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom, the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than manmade security.
Read our story spotlight on Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley to learn more!
The Story Behind Door to Freedom
Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?
Door to Freedom is inspired by my friends and acquaintances in Sudan. Most of the characters and even the scenes in the book are real to me, I can see the faces, smell the dirt, taste the food, feel the heat. Though the book is fiction, it is very much based on real experiences that I had during my time in North Africa and the Middle East. This book is very close to my heart as it describes the struggles and joys of some of my dear friends.
What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?
The hardest part about writing this novel was trying to remain true to the real struggles while not overwhelming the reader. North Sudan is a very unique place; an “acquired taste,” you might say. I found it difficult to accurately describe a place I love that is, in fact, sometimes very difficult to love.
What trait do you love most about your main character?
I like her honest feelings. Mia confronts even her not-so-Christ-like emotions and acknowledges her short comings. Sometimes we spend a lot of time hiding those things or pretending we don’t struggle with them. Living in Sudan has exposed things that Mia would prefer to keep hidden, but she has to let the Lord deal with them and is better for it.
When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?
I hope that when my readers turn the final page of my book, they will not be so scared of Muslims. I hope they will find a spark of love for the lost and a desire to pray for and reach out to those who don’t know the truth. Then, I hope they will act on that spark!
Character Interview with Rania
What is the most interesting thing about you?
I secretly want to be an artist.
I am a high school student.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
A romantic, an artist, obedient.
What do you do for fun?
I draw, but I’d like to start painting. I also like to hang out with my dear friend Maysoon. She saw me through a dark time and I am indebted to her. I am not the only one with a secret. She has an even bigger secret than I do.
Share a favorite childhood memory:
My older sister Halimah used to tell me stories when we were going to sleep at night. She usually told me stories about a prince who came to find me. But one night, when I was very sick, she told me about a man who healed a little girl. That was my favorite story of all. Halimah has been kicked out of our family and I am not even allowed to say her name. Maybe that’s why I love to remember her stories; they make me feel close to her again.
What is your life motto or goal?
Peace. That’s my life goal. That’s what I want. I don’t see it anywhere around me but everyone seems to be searching. Maysoon is searching for freedom. But that’s not what we need. We need peace.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be brave like my older sister Halimah.
Fried mutton. My mother makes the best fried mutton and my father is very good at choosing the right sheep at the market. I am lucky that my family can afford to buy mutton. Many Sudanese families only get to eat this kind of meat once a year during our Muslim holiday called Eid al-Adha.
What is the most important thing to you?
Well, at first I thought the most important thing to me was marrying the man who was right for me. But now I think the most important thing is finding peace.
Biggest pet peeve:
My biggest pet peeve is when my father brags on me in front of his male guests. I know he is trying to find a husband for me, but it just feels like he is showing me off, like I am an object to be observed.