"All around the world, children go to church, sing songs, pray, read scriptures, participate in family home evening, and get baptized. We may meet in different types of buildings or speak different languages, but we have a lot in common. Why? Because no matter where we live, we all love and believe in Jesus, and He loves each one of us just the same. Are you like Pablo, Dimitri, Bayani, Junpei, and Shamara? Do you believe in Jesus too?"
Mark Nielsen has written a children's book called I Believe In Jesus Too. After reading it, I realized this was an excellent book that parents all around the world could read and enjoy sharing with their children, grandchildren, friends and family. What I appreciated most was how simple and straightforward this book is.
Interview with author, Mark Nielsen:
How long have you been writing?
I don't remember who the mail was addressed to, but around 5th grade, someone in my house received a piece of junk mail from a publishing company. It was that piece of junk mail that started me thinking about writing and becoming an author. Thank you junk mail...you are good for something!
Although a desire to write was lit inside me in 5th grade, it was 13 years later, in 2001 that I actually started writing a book. My first book idea was a novel. While I was writing my novel though, I kept on thinking of ideas for children’s books…and that is what I have been mainly writing for the last ten years. I hope to finish my novel someday soon though.
Your children’s book, I Believe In Jesus Too, makes reference to children who belong to the LDS faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) . How could children of other faiths benefit from reading this book?
As I read this question I couldn’t help but think of my brother who recently told me that a lady he works with, who is a member of another faith, bought two copies of my book so she could have one for her family and one to put in the library at her Church. What a nice lady!
To answer your question, I think children of other faiths could definitely benefit from reading this book. I originally wrote this book so that no matter what other people said, LDS children would know for sure that they are Christian and that they believe in Jesus. Many other religions for one reason or another don’t believe that members of our Church believe in Jesus Christ.
This book could maybe break down that barrier a little bit and curb some incorrect information. In fact there are children and families all over the world of our faith that love the Savior and this book talks about that. When members of other faiths realize that we are Christian too, maybe they can benefit from this book by knowing that they have Christian friends all over the world.
Where do you get the inspiration for writing?
I love my children and my family. They make me so happy and they are definitely the inspiration for my writing. In fact my oldest child, and only daughter, was my inspiration for “I Believe in Jesus Too”. Mary was about 2 and a half, at this time and my wife was getting close to delivering Sam. One night I really tried hard to think about a lesson that I wanted Mary to learn. That’s usually how I write my stories. I usually think of the lesson that I want the reader to get, and then I form the story that will lead to that lesson.
I came up with the idea to write a story that would help Mary know that she was a Christian and that there were children of all races and cultures all over the world that were also LDS and that believed in Jesus just like she did. I decided to call the book “I Believe in Jesus Too”. Hopefully both Mary, who is almost five and a half, and Sam, who is almost three, will like the book!
What would you like the readers to know about you?
In the spring of 1996 I graduated from high school and immediately started my college career that summer at BYU Jerusalem. That experience in the Holy Land changed my life! After a great first year at BYU I received my mission call in April 1997 and was called to serve in the Barcelona, Spain Mission.
(NOTE: The LDS church calls young men and women around the ages of 19-28 to serve as full-time missionaries. These missionaries pay for the entire mission and set aside education, jobs, and dating for 1 ½ - 2 years so they can dedicate all their time and efforts to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.)
On returning from my mission I started teaching seminary at a school for special needs children. In the fall of 2002 I graduated from BYU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities and a minor in Spanish. Anne, my wife, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. After graduation we moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I was hired to teach seminary full time for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
(NOTE: Seminary is a religious class taught to high school age students. It’s a 4 year course that uses the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants as the lesson material.)
I love my family, the Church, good movies, BYU football, my mom's spaghetti, good books, softball, Chufi (horchata drink from Spain), trying to make my students and kids laugh, teaching, traveling, and of course writing children's books.
I lived in Russia and traveled around Europe, Israel, and Egypt. As I have reflected on these experiences I have learned that although everyone has different cultures and is different, everyone is also very much the same. Everyone is a child of God and whether they show it or not, everyone wants to be treated fairly, to be loved, and to be respected.
It is so neat to know that there are people all over the world that believe in what I believe. When I hear their stories, I want to be better and I want to be like them. I am so grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ. I know that he loves me and that he died for me and for everyone that I meet on this planet. We are all brothers and sisters because of him.
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