Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Frances Fuller, Award Winning Author Of 'In Borrowed Houses', Thanks Lebanese-American Organization ATFL And Relates An Amazing Story

Frances Fuller's award-winning memoir, 'In Borrowed Houses', gives readers a penetrating glimpse of the Middle East from the inside. She puts a face on the Middle East many Americans have not yet seen

A recent article written by Dr. George T. Cody, executive director of the American Task Force for Lebanon covered the decree by the U.S. State Department that ordered all Americans to leave Lebanon in 1987 and the ATFL’s efforts to have normal travel resume after the Lebanese civil war ended.  On January 28 of that year, Secretary of State George Schultz invalidated the use of a US passport for travel to Lebanon after several kidnappings of American citizens.

In response to Cody’s article, Frances Fuller, author of the award-winning memoir In Borrowed Houses expressed gratitude to the ATFL for its positive role in lifting the ban and related an amazing story about how she overcame the hardships imposed by it and managed, not only to work in  Lebanon, but to stay long enough to adopt an abandoned baby.

At first devastated by the decree, she wrote, "Already for twelve years, an alien civilian in the middle of a civil war, I had been learning what it meant to be powerless and now I had to face a new lesson," Fuller stated. "My own passport did not belong to me.  It belonged to the American State Department, who could tell me where I could use it. On the other hand, I did have a certain amount of freedom. Though the State Department could tell me where to use their documents; it could not tell me where I could go."

Forced by the ban to move to Cyprus in 1987, Fuller commuted regularly to Lebanon by ferry in order to continue her work as director of a Christian publishing program with offices in Lebanon, finding this far more dangerous and stressful than living in her house in Beit Meri. Also her employer permitted her to stay in Lebanon only two weeks at a time and warned her to do nothing that would force the American embassy to acknowledge her presence.

"And then it happened that one morning in Cyprus I received a message by phone, telling me about the sudden unlikely appearance in Lebanon of something our family longed for. A baby boy had been found in a damaged and abandoned building; if I came soon I should be able to adopt him.  I went.  And I stayed more than two months, because after I adopted the baby there were complications with the paper work enabling me to leave the country with him.  I certainly couldn’t leave without him! Finally, my problems reached an impossible point, a conundrum that no one could solve except the American consul. But how could I, present in the country in defiance of the law, go to see the consul?  Then, through the intervention of an influential Lebanese friend, I learned that the consul knew I was in Lebanon, even knew exactly where I was and was willing to help me.  I never saw his face, nor he mine, but he performed a kind deed in my behalf.

"The baby I brought to America in September 1993 was re-adopted in Virginia by my daughter Jan, becoming my grandson, Samuel Fuller Carruthers. In March 2013 we took him to Lebanon to see the place where he was miraculously found and meet the man who found him. This spring Samuel graduated from Radford University where he has been admitted to graduate school.  Dr. Cody’s article, which inspired me to write this post, was published on July 9, Samuel’s 22nd birthday."

Told in short episodes, Fuller’s book reveals the alienation, confusion and courage of civilians in the Lebanese civil war, introducing to the reader a variety of real people with whom the author interacts: editors, salesmen, neighbors, refugees, soldiers, missionaries, lawyers, shepherds, artists, students. With these people she works, studies, plays games, prays, laughs and cries, all to the accompaniment of gunfire. Together these small stories tell what war is like for civilians caught on a battlefield, and they create the impression of the Lebanese as a fun-loving, witty, patient and resilient people. They also compose, not a political history, but a historical document of a time and a place.

Critics have praised  ‘In Borrowed Houses.’ A judge in the 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards called 'In Borrowed Houses' “…a well written book full of compassion…a captivating story…”. Another reviewer described the book as “Wise, honest, sensitive, funny, heart-wrenching…”. Colin Chapman, lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut said, “….western Christians and Middle Eastern Christians need to read this story…full of remarkable perceptiveness and genuine hope.”

Fuller’s message of gratitude to the ATFL, as well as to Lebanese-American members of Congress and then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was published as a blog post on her website at 

Frances Fuller is available for media interviews and can be reached using the information below or by email at Fuller's book is available at Amazon and other book retailers. More information is available at her website at

About Frances Fuller:

Frances Fuller spent thirty years in the violent Middle East and for twenty-four of those years was the director of a Christian publishing program with offices in Lebanon. While leading the development of spiritual books in the Arabic language, she survived long years of civil war and invasions.


Frances Fuller