Q: Does the idea of an emissary parallel anything specific to your own experience?
Davis Bunn (aka, Thomas Locke): It absolutely has a personal connection. Emissary is a Latin word that means ambassador.
My wife, Isabella, and I live for part of the year in the UK and the other part in the US. Increasingly, in our ministry efforts outside of writing, she and I are the only Christians in the room. We feel as if we are emissaries to the world.
During the time we live in the US, it’s easy to become insular. It’s a simpler and more comforting existence if our world is restricted to the community of believers who see the world the same way we do. In the US, our friendships and contacts can mostly be centered around fellow Christians.
Both situations feel right. But the direction we’re feeling called is to this community outside our faith community: the general university system, general entertainment, the growing world of nonbelief. In the Creative Writing class I recently taught at Oxford, for example, I had 29 students. Four of them were devout Muslims. If I am going to honor their creative efforts, I have to do it from the standpoint of explaining where I’m coming from, in terms of my own world view. But our differing life experiences and world views cannot color the way that I view the quality of their writing. I have to live out my faith in a way that speaks without words.
This has been a main reason for writing Emissary. I’m trying to reach out and to communicate a sense of hopefulness in a manner that meets my readers where they are.
Q: Have you had any “ah ha” moments in regards to your personal decision to be an emissary?
Davis Bunn: Isabella and I marked a turning in our own outreach when we were invited by a seminary in Easy Germany to travel there about a week after the Berlin Wall fell. We arrived the day the East German government granted permission for churches to open after they’d been shuttered for 40 years.
We walked to what had been the main cathedral in the city and saw a young man standing in the doorway. He was staring at a poster that showed fields blowing in the wind and had the Bible verse, John 3:16. The young man looked at the words in absolute, complete confusion. He’d never seen them before.
During that moment, my wife and I both got the sense that this type of ministry was where we wanted to be.