She’s traveled to more than a dozen war-torn nations over the past decade. Now Julianne Hale, still actively serving our nation in the intelligence community, has crafted a novel that rings true to life—of a terrorist who becomes a Christian believer… and a double agent working to save innocent lives.
“In the Near East, Christians are heavily persecuted, and not just by the terrorists. In many nations, it’s illegal to proselytize or proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior,” says Hale in an exclusive interview, elaborating on the title of her book Covert Awakening, which released this month via Amazon and other major retailers.
“Despite this, Muslims are converting to Christianity in unprecedented numbers today—but then many go into hiding. In many Muslim families, it is not only acceptable but expected to kill family members who convert.” Hale speaks from firsthand knowledge, as her missions overseas have been both humanitarian and for national security purposes.
She continues: “In Covert Awakening, I wanted to highlight this brave group of people, who choose to risk their lives to worship God and spread the joy of the Lord despite the threat to their very existence. We see the main characters carry this struggle as they join and expand upon the underground community.”
The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities has become a topic of much debate nationwide, particularly after Vice President Mike Pence addressed leaders of the underground church at a May 11 summit in Washington, D.C.
“In the Middle East and North Africa, anywhere terror strikes, America stands with those who are targeted and tormented for their belief—whether they’re Christian, Yazidi, Druzes, Shia, Sunni, or any other creed,” stated Pence. “[We] will continue to condemn persecution of any kind, of any faith, any place, any time; we will stand against it with our ideals and with all our might.”
For Julianne Hale, whose day job involves following current trends in global terrorism and politics, telling a story of faith and fast-paced events unfolding on the world stage seems to come naturally.
“My novel is based on real-world events,” she explains. “The events in Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, for example, are true to life. The airstrike in the opening scenes is based on a Western strike in Adjabiya, Libya. The uprising in Tripoli is based on the 2014 overrunning of Tripoli by militia and terrorist groups, which caused the U.S. to move its embassy to Tunis and leave the country. Numerous scenes are based on this type of story.”
While depicting foreign cultures and international intrigue makes for engaging summer reading, the novel’s perspective on how Christianity is spreading may surprise readers the most.
“There’s a great awakening to God happening in the Near East right now, but very little is known about it,” she shares.
Hale recounts stories she’s heard firsthand: “Even in closed nations where it’s nearly impossible for foreign believers to get in unscathed, Jesus is appearing to many in dreams and visions. His glorious appearances spread, as does word of mouth.”
“We’re seeing that revival happens underground in Muslim-majority cultures, in secret house meetings or caverns in the mountains. Their worship gatherings are often small and scattered to avoid attention… because if caught, they could be arrested or executed.”
When asked about policy solutions to the global threat of terrorism, Hale has as much hope for new ideas coming to light in Washington as she does for new Christian believers in the Near East region.
She concludes, “If there’s one thing I see frequently in the policy world, it’s recycled solutions offered for political reasons. We need to adapt and innovate, just as terrorists do frankly. The characters in my novel represent young minds bringing fresh perspectives to difficult issues.”
Josh M. Shepherdhas served on staff at The Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family, Bound4LIFE International, and two Congressional offices. His articles have appeared in media outlets including The Daily Signal, Boundless, Charisma Magazine and Christian Headlines, where he serves as a contributor. He earned a degree in Business Marketing from the University of Colorado. Josh and his wife Terri live in the Washington, D.C. area. Follow Josh on Twitter @joshMshep.
Photo: In Jerusalem, Julianne Hale clings to the Western Wall—a bedrock for the faith of Jews and Christians.
Photo courtesy: Julianne Hale
Publication date: June 12, 2017