Discussion Categories

The Story Continues...

This forum is your chance to share your thoughts or ask questions about Buy This Land. From time to time I’ll join in with my own thoughts, comment on aspects of the book-writing experience, and fill in some of the background or stories that didn't make it into the book.

In the meantime I invite you to read more and join in the discussion.


A tribute to following

Dear Skip,

Greetings from India!  I just finished your book and enjoyed it very much.  While many of the stories were familiar, the details you added provided additional insight.  Your story and journey of responding to “call” and making a difference was inspiring.  Your description of the learning process at Agros was also a good lesson, especially the importance of listening to the people in the communities.  The “essentials” chapter was excellent; they enamored me from the first meeting in the old offices and in your home.  What came through the entire book was your commitment to the values that are reflected in you and the Agros family – following Jesus, facilitating participating and relationships.  While most of us would support them, living them out in real life and through an organization is a real and often very difficult challenge.  I hope that others who read your book will be inspired to realize that apathy is one of the biggest barriers in this world and like you, every one, in some way, can engage with the poor and bring change.  And finally, as you state, with your beautiful example of the tapestry, God uses all of us, if we are willing to submit, and our stories to weave an amazing and living message of hope and redemption.  Thanks for sharing your story.

Un abrazo,

Greg Rake


Humbled and Grateful

I finished your book on my way down here to Ecuador today.  Two words come to mind again and again…humbled and grateful.  Humbled by your amazing heart for service and grateful that you have taken the time to let us enter into your story (in the book and beyond).  Thank you for sharing a story that is certainly worth it is so filled with faith, hope, love, and determination.  It is amazing to see how Agros and those it serves have taken on these characteristics, and how they have in turn shaped these characteristics in you.  I am excited to see, hear, read about the next chapters that have yet to be written!


Response to readers

I’ve had lots of questions from readers.  Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions and my answers.  Stay tuned for more in the days ahead.

Q.  How long did it take you to write the book?

A.  I began jotting down some first thoughts in 2005, with strong encouragement from the Agros board.  At one point in 2007 the board even excused me from some board duties to give me more time to concentrate on writing.  Progress came in agonizingly slow increments, and I was getting nowhere with the book.  In the summer of 2009 then board chair Susan Moulton and husband Paul, then President Hans Theyer and wife María Fernanda, conspired with my wife Cyd and came as unexpected dinner guests one night.  I knew something was up when they walked through our front door.  The message delivered to me that night:  “Skip, if you don’t get serious about writing the book, we’ll ask Cyd to write it.”  That was a not-so-subtle blow at my ego; it was also effective.  I did get serious, and began writing in spurts.  Then in November 2011 I realized the book would never get finished if it continued to be a part-time or spare-time effort. I told my law firm partners I needed the time to concentrate on finishing the book.  Instead of going to the office every morning, I stayed home to write, and did my legal work for clients through email and phone calls. I finally finished a first (and very rough) manuscript in March 2012.  Then came the editing and publishing process, which took another three months.

Q.  When did you find the time to write at all?

A.  Prior to the final push in November 2011, I mainly wrote during early mornings.  I have long been an early riser, and those pre-dawn or early dawn moments have been my best times of the day.  My mind is clear, the house is quiet, and there are no distractions.  I also wrote while traveling – on airplanes, in hotel rooms.

Q.  Did writing the book come easily to you?

A.  Not at all. I am by nature an essayist.  From 1998-2009 I wrote op-ed columns for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  Those 750-word columns, and occasional longer Sunday pieces, came without great effort.  Early on when I wrote segments for the book and showed them to Cyd, she gave me some devastating critique:  “You’re writing like a blankety-blank columnist!  This is supposed to be a story!”  That was a huge wake-up call for me, and I realized that this book-writing business would be a completely different challenge from anything I had encountered before.

Q.  Did you ever consider handing the job over to a ghost-writer?

A.  For about three seconds.