by Gene Marrano
Roanoke resident Eileen Hinkle Rife decided to get serious about writing after home schooling her children for 20 years. When she wasn’t collaborating with her husband Chuck, a counselor, on marriage workshops, Rife started to write a series of Christian-themed novels. Journey to Judah, book one in her “Born for India” trilogy was the first, inspired by her daughter Rachel’s work as a missionary in that country. Rachel lives there now with her three children and husband Nathan, who has helped plant a church there.
Restored Hearts was the second book in the series, tackling the subject of homosexuality, “a sin” says Rife, according to the Bible. A character from the first Rife book “wrestles with a same sex attraction,” in Restored Hearts, but “the Holy Spirit’s working on him. It’s the road to destruction … a dead end street.”
Again the book is set largely in India, at a missionary compound for orphans. “I try to show both sides of the debate, although in my mind there is no debate,” says Rife, “the Scriptures are clear this is a sin.” At some point homosexuality “becomes a choice,” she contends.
“Restored Hearts was very, very tough to write,” says Rife, who labels herself an obsessive-compulsive. Many dysfunctions have the same root causes she notes. “I can see some of the same dynamics [in Tim, the homosexual character].” Rife finds that writing often has a healing effect for her.
Now comes the third and final novel of the series, Chosen Ones, released last month from Oaktara Press, which published all three (Rife has a commitment already from Oaktara to publish her next novel.) Years ago Rife was told she had “a way with words,” and finally decided to start writing novels.
Chosen Ones addresses the issue of human sex trafficking, a subject brought to Rife’s attention by younger daughter Rachel. 12.3 million people, mostly girls, are enslaved worldwide in the practice, including a considerable number in the United States says Rife, who has also written several non-fiction pieces on India. “I’ve dabbled around in a few things over the course of [the past] 12 years and never thought fiction was something I would get into.”
Rife has been to India several times herself on mission trips; she saw a correlation between Rachel and the Biblical story of Ruth, who went to Judah to “share her faith.”
Rachel is doing the same in India, preaching the Christian faith since 2004 in a largely non-Christian country.
“Rachel’s love story [with Nathan],” was the inspiration for Journey to Judah; the rest was fiction says Rife. Nathan did grow up the son of missionary parents in Cambodia, where the sex trafficking of young girls is not uncommon. Eileen Rife relies on Rachel and Nathan for many of the background details on life in India.
“I had no idea four years ago how prolific [sex trafficking] is,” says Rife, who began to think about writing Chosen Ones at that time. “I want the reader to come away more aware of this problem and be moved to action in some way.” That could be via prayer, giving to an organization that addresses the issue, or going on a mission trip to help attack the problem at the source.
“Even in Roanoke,” it’s a problem contends Rife, who puts her own Christian theme in to each of her works. “I write what God puts on my heart,” says Rife.
See oaktara.com or eileenrife.com for more on Chosen Ones and other books by Eileen Hinkle Rife books, which are also available on line.