107,000 Facebook likes, 7,000 YouTube subscribers, over 2,000 copies sold, and worldwide speaking engagements lining up—from the outside, Missy Kifetew’s book, Beyond the Fairy Tale: An Appeal for Sexual Purity, might look like an overnight success. But like many paths God asks us to walk, Missy’s route was not well-marked or easy. In fact, when she first began writing what would become Beyond the Fairy Tale, Missy was working as a pharmacist with no intention of becoming an author. The Idea: For Missy, Beyond the Fairy Tale started as a way to communicate the importance of purity to her eleven-year-old daughter—a topic that hit home for Missy because of her own experiences as an adolescent. As the eighth of nine siblings, Missy was always seen as a baby in her family. “When I was 13, I had millions of questions,” she says, “but no one would talk about them. I asked one person what sex was, and they said two people sleeping next to each other. I knew that wasn’t right so I started looking for answers myself.” Missy, who was not raised in a Christian household, looked wherever she could: fiction, the internet, and her friends. She journeyed down a dark path of experimentation throughout her teenage years, but found God when she was 19. Her salvation prompted her to seek out clarity regarding God’s view of sexuality, and give up her promiscuous lifestyle. “I wanted to share the importance of sexual purity with my daughter, but all of the books I found were speaking to the broken woman (like me), not the innocent girl.” –Missy Kifetew Years later, when her daughter came home from school and mentioned a boy who had “beautiful eyes,” Missy saw the specter of her own past rising up. She decided then that she wanted to speak openly to her daughter about the topic of sex in a Biblical manner, to give her the tools that Missy herself missed out on. And so the research began. “I wanted to share the importance of sexual purity with my daughter, but all of the books I found were speaking to the broken woman (like me), not the innocent girl who had grown up in the church,” says Missy. “So I started typing my thoughts for her. When I read back through it, I thought, ‘This is beautiful! I need to share this.’” Small Beginnings: Her first step was printing off copies for other mothers in her local church, but God was moving her toward something bigger. She considered self-publishing what she’d written, but decided against it—it was all or nothing. “God was speaking to my heart to contact big publishers. At first I was thinking, ‘I’m a pharmacist, not an author!’ But God was calling me into ministry,” says Missy. “It was like the story of Abraham. I had to leave my home-country of being a pharmacist and follow where He was leading.” After stepping down from her pharmacy position, Missy contacted a few major publishers, then left on a vacation to her home country of Ethiopia. When she returned, an e-mail awaited her from Deep River Books—they were interested. Unfortunately, Missy did not have the capital to put into a publishing partnership up front. She turned them down, then spent five days in prayer. She had determined not to ask for help from anyone, instead trusting that God would bring the funds if this was His will. God Moving: On the fifth day, an e-mail appeared in her inbox. It was from a woman named LeeAnn Rawlins. She had heard about Missy through a mutual acquaintance who knew of her inability to front the partnership money at Deep River, and she wanted to help. LeeAnn read the manuscript and it immediately struck a chord. “I’ve worked a lot with young people through counseling and YWAM,” says LeeAnn, “and I’ve seen firsthand the devastation promiscuity brings.” LeeAnn has been in ministry for years and when she read Missy’s book, she felt led to help. “When I first read it, I thought, ‘This is so real.’ I like writing I can feel, and I really connected with her book.” LeeAnn offered to front Missy the capital she needed to get started. “What Missy was looking for was a loan,” she explains. “We gave her 10,000 dollars, not really expecting to get it back—but within a few months of the book launch she’d paid in full.” Hard Work: The year leading up to the launch was filled with work for the new author. She had no website or social media presence, and had a huge learning curve. “Bill Carmichael (publisher) at Deep River Books asked me if I had a Facebook page, and I didn’t even know what he was talking about!” she says, laughing. “Then he told me I had to sell 1,000 copies myself, and I thought ‘This man must be out of his mind.’” Daunted, but determined, Missy started small. She spoke to her church congregation, but only received 300 Facebook likes—a far cry from the amount she’d need to get her book off the ground. So she just started writing. And writing. And writing, and writing. The more Missy posted to her social media, the more people engaged. Little by little her Facebook stats climbed. By the time her book launched she had a solid following of over 1,000, and it has grown exponentially since Beyond the Fairy Tale hit the press. Since launching the book Missy has been active in searching out and accepting speaking engagements. She has been to Canada (twice), London, Sweden, Las Vegas, and even Australia for almost a month. With each event she has gained followers and sold books. In fact, she’s sold not only those daunting first thousand copies, but another thousand beyond. And now she’s on her third batch. But for the author this journey has been about the people she met along the way. “Bill believed in me before I believed in myself,” she says. “He encouraged me like a daughter. And LeeAnn is now also a dear friend. I couldn’t have done it without God working marvelously through them.” It took faith, prayer, and obedience to come this far, but even a quick conversation with Missy is enough to confirm that she won’t be slowing down anytime soon—not until God leads her in a new direction. Her humility and dedication to the tough groundwork that goes into building up a loyal readership holds lessons for any author looking to gain a following. And her optimistic demeanor and willingness to follow God is inspiring for believers in any field. To learn more about Missy Kifetew, see appealforpurity.org. For more information about LeeAnn Rawlins’ newest ministry with her husband, see beadreamreleaser.com.