Monday, July 02, 2007

Interview Manna Vandaag

If you want to know a little bit more about me - and if you are able to read Dutch - have a look at this interview taken by Conny from Manna Vandaag. Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Ecclesiastes 11:1
UPDATE see my translation in the comments section of this entry


Mike said...

And what about those of us who cannot read Dutch?

Art said...

I took a look at it somehow thinking my incredibly meager skills in the German language would help... (silly American). I understood a few words: "weblogger", "Gods Woord", uh, that's about it.

Seriously, though, congrats on this honor!

Panda said...

@ Mike: You can always try to use Altavista's Babelfish :-) But I am sure that will result in some hilarious translations.

@ Art: 'weblogger' and ' Gods Woord' are the most important words in this interview. Forget about the rest :-)

Conny Vos said...

Bedankt voor alle verwijzingen! En wat betreft je reactie op de column. Heel gedurfd met volledige naam, maar je hebt helemaal gelijk!
Het boek over Boeddha ken ik niet, maar ik zal eens kijken of ik het kan vinden.

Mike said...

Yep. The fish does give a good laugh.
I second Art's congrats. Your a good dude.

Panda said...

Okay, guys - this is my crappy translation of the interview. But I trust it is always better than using Babelfish ;-)


He is a publisher, a writer, a poet and a web logger. “I have this urge to share”, Paul Abspoel explains all these occupations.

About ten years ago he joined Ark Boeken Publishing House in Amsterdam ( He started in marketing communications, became assistant to the publisher and finally publisher.
Ark Boeken is part of the VVHS/BKV foundation, a Bible mission.

"Sharing God’s Word is our objective, that is why we try to make books that are accessible. Our books need to look good as well, and they have to be true to the Bible. We are a ‘colourful’ publishing house.
Ark Boeken is specialised in children’s picture books, gift books and practical, pastoral and socially relevant books for young adults and grown-ups."

Sometimes Paul misses a book that he would have loved to publish "But that's just the way it goes. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough if that happens. I also have a professional admiration for my colleagues, and we cooperate with them too. We have a common interest, therefore I am glad with every positive book that is published on our market. It also happens that we cooperate on a project basis with other Christian organisations, such as Open Doors or OMF. You share knowledge and costs and increase your ‘combined firing power’. If the readers are touched by these books, they can become supporters of these organisations or even decide to join them as volunteers or employees. So this is beneficial for all parties involved. We publish some great books and at the same time we raise awareness for good causes, so this truly is a win-win situation."

Paul never lacks new ideas. "At this moment we are looking for good books for the age group 8+. We don’t publish fiction, but if we want to reach every age group, we need to ask ourselves how we can do that. We also use new media and produce audio books."

Paul also wrote some books himself. Some of these books are translations, other books are his own creation. For instance, he wrote a beautifully designed book with the title Talking about Love Paul explains: "We wanted to make a book with texts from the new Dutch Bible translation, and we were the first publisher to do so. We just asked permission to use the text – even before the new Dutch Bible translation was officially introduced, and they gave us permission. The poems in these books are so called poetic reflections. This is the way I write my poems: I read a Bible text, reflect and respond to it in writing and then I give it back to God in prayer."

The book Shape Me was published in combination with a CD. Paul: "This all started with a children’s book about Jeremiah. I didn’t know that much about Jeremiah, to be honest. I only thought about lamentations and things like that. Jeremiah was told by God to visit the house of the potter. God showed him something there."

"Later on I was invited to talk to a small group of people about this subject. Now I became fascinated by this biblical potter and clay theme. I went to an abbey together with a friend of mine and he told me: If you have a vision, you have a job. I visited a potter, who happened to be a Christian too, and our graphic designer came along and made some pics that we used for the book. The potter, his name is Albert Brouwer, told me among other things that clay must always be in the centre of the wheel. I thought about that. You can look at that wheel as a metaphor of life’s circumstances and how God can use them to shape us. I also noticed how often this image of the potter and the clay is used in the Bible. I studied the subject, worked out my notes and that is how this book was born.”

Paul knows for sure that his writing talent is a gift from God. “No doubt. I always liked writing, even as a kid. When my friends in school hated to have writing assignments, I always enjoyed them. This is a God-given talent – and I’m sure that this is something that is a part of my personality. My faith is the centre of my existence, so that is why I also use my writing skills to write about my beliefs.”

Paul also writes on his blog "I write almost on a daily basis. What I like about the Internet is that you can create your own little spot in cyberspace. My blog is a reflection of who I am. I don’t want to present myself as a self-righteous, devout man, because that would turn me into a Pharisee. But I do want to be honest and open about my life and beliefs. In this way my blog is also an opportunity to share my faith with other people. I get comments from different parts of the world, and I really enjoy this interaction. Internet can be a source of fresh water, but it can also be an open sewage drain, depending on how you choose to use it."

Paul made a conscious decision when he was only a kid. "I came back from Sunday school where they had told me about giving your heart to the Lord, and that is what I wanted to do. I went upstairs to say a little prayer, but halfway the stairs I decided to kneel down and say my prayer. There were also other decisive moments in my life, times of spiritual growth. My baptism at the age of 18 was such a moment – a public testimony of my faith. But all in all I am the son who stayed at home. I never doubted God deep down in my heart. I do have some questions and I constantly wonder whether I am on the right track or not, but I want to follow God in a child-like manner. My personal credo is: Better to be too naive than to have too little faith."

Paul was raised in a Christian family. His father loved doing Bible studies and every now and then he was so excited about the things that he discovered in God’s Word, that he had to share them with the rest of the family. Paul recognizes this feeling of excitement when he reads the Bible. "Sometimes you think that you know all there is to know about a certain passage in the Bible, but all of a sudden this part touches your hear in a fresh way, as if you read it for the very first time. I really love the Bible. I have to read the Bible professionally as a Christian publisher of course, but I like to share my passion with other people too."

Paul visits the Meerkerk (a Baptist Church) in Hoofddorp with his family. He is involved in instruction courses for new church members and he is also a member of a team of people who write daily devotional texts (see Paul also helps with some church activities in a nearby prison. "In fact we just help the pastor with some practical things like making coffee and washing the dishes. After the service we have some time to socialise and chat with the prisoners. Sometimes we can give them some things like books, CD’s or calendars. Because of my work I can also give some remainders and English language books to other prisons, such as the prison for refugees in Amsterdam. There is no clear separation between my publishing work and the things I do for our church or as a private person. My work is my passion – it doesn’t really feel like 'work' and it is not a nine to five job. At the office I don’t allow myself to sit down and read a book, so most of the time I do my reading at home. And when I am not reading or writing, I can’t stop thinking or developing new ideas… Often I go outside for a walk to get some fresh air and get rid of stress. It is also nice for instance to do some gardening in stead of reading. If a gardener reads a book on a Sunday, it is a good way to relax for him. For me reading can be like 'working', so for me it is the other way around. I am not living and working in separate worlds, though. I am the same person wherever I go or whatever I do."

Mike said...


I knew you were a talented guy, but I'm taken aback. Wow. You thoughts and ideas strike my heart too.

"If you have a vision you have a job".

Love it.

Anonymous said...

Tag - you're it. Stop by my blog for details.

Carol L. Douglas said...

Paul, your translation isn't nearly as entertaining as Babelfish's and believe it or not, Babelfish gave me the gist of it, just a few words which came up as strange.