Everyday Christian: 10 years of reporting how God has moved those to follow him
I’ve been working at Eternity since it began its online form – back in 2011 when it became part of the Bible Society Australia group.
I was working in a corporate public relations firm, wasting away writing copy about recruitment practices and begging uninterested journalists to write about my client’s banal ‘news’. I stumbled across an event poster from Open Doors – who advocate for persecuted Christians – highlighting a visit to Australia from Helen Berhane, an Eritrean woman who had been imprisoned in a shipping container for two and a half years because she would not renounce her Christian faith.
At 24 years old, I wasn’t a new Christian, but perhaps you might have called me disengaged. I knew little about the Christian world outside my own church. So Helen’s poster caught my attention. I read the national news every day, but never read anything like this.
It seemed a gift from God – this idea that I could get paid for meeting amazing people on fire for God, and writing about their story so more people could feel that passion.
Feeling uninspired in my job, I contacted Open Doors. “Let me meet Helen and write up her story and see if I can pitch it to a few newspapers,” I said. They agreed.
I met Helen in a small African restaurant in Newtown before she spoke at a local church. She told me her story. I wrote it down. And I pitched it to the newspaper that I’d picked up at the back of my church that weekend: Eternity.
When Eternity’s editor, John Sandeman, contacted me again and offered to pay for other stories I might be able to find, I was excited about the prospect. It seemed a gift from God – this idea that I could get paid for meeting amazing people on fire for God, and writing about their story so more people could feel that passion.
A few months later, he emailed me a job description. Eternity was growing. Was I interested in a job? It was a no brainer.
Ten years later, and this job has expanded the horizon of my Christian life. Here are a few things it has taught me:
Christians are doing amazing – and really fun – things.
So many amazing and fun things that it often didn’t feel like work at all talking to them and writing about them.
There are Christians making board games – and not just Bible-themed monopoly, but mainstream, well-loved boardgames like Sushi-Go!
And there are people thinking hard about how to engage those who don’t go to church, like the pastors who made the most of flocks of Pokemon-Go gamers who turned up outside their church to catch Pokemon. Or the designers creating video games that teach kids about God using steampunk characters and beautiful animations.
You can find Christians strategising on Survivor (a favourite in our house), and on the board of the Reserve Bank and praying before and after they’ve won (or lost!) nationally-televised footy games.
Some succeed. Some have to change their plans. But all are prayerful and are seeking to follow Jesus where he has placed them.
You can find brothers and sisters in Christ almost everywhere
I met brothers in Christ while visiting some of South Africa’s darkest and most notorious prisons.
I met sisters in Christ teaching children to read with the Bible in Vietnam and Cambodia.
I visited some of the most faithful Christians I have ever met in the APY Lands in Central Australia – the Pitjantjatjara grandmothers spending their days translating the Bible into their heart language so they can teach it to their grandchildren.
I’ve interviewed humble Christians who end up with Sydney ferries named after them, like the great Catherine Hamlin. I’ve interviewed the heads of enormous churches, or famous musicians, who remind me that even they are just pastors at heart who want to follow God and love others, through good times and bad.
And right under my nose in our team at Eternity, I met people from all walks of life who were living out the Christian life and felt drawn to the vision of Eternity in telling the ‘good news’ of how God is at work in our nation and around the world.
Someone’s story of faith is personal but also universal
From an Aboriginal Christian leader trying to figure out her place in the world, to the wife of an executed prisoner trying to rebuild her life, to a man who has dedicated his life to bringing the Bible to lonely people in lonely places, one thing stays the same: God moves hearts. It is God who inspires, God who gives the gifts, God who moves. We need only respond.
It has been my privilege to report when people do.