Why I still love journalism

When I first began college, I looked for a church. At the third one I visited, the large church held a college Sunday School before the main service. One of the adult men helping with the group joined my group of friends and asked us all our names and majors. When my turn came, I introduced myself and said I was studying journalism.

“That’s a dying field,” he replied.

I was shocked. I literally did not know what to say, and he made no attempt to redeem himself. Instead of welcoming me as a new student and encouraging my interests, he unapologetically decried my dream.

Partly due to this shocking and discouraging encounter, I did not return to that church. I did continue to pursue my journalistic dream, however, by joining the school paper, where I later became News Editor.

This summer I am interning at a magazine called Today’s Christian Woman to broaden my journalistic experience since I had previously only done News. Part of my role as an intern is to look for excerpts from books, which we then post online to stamp our approval for that author’s work. In doing so, I recently read “Starting Something New,” a non-fiction book by Beth A. Booram, a spiritual director living in Indiana.

Booram walks the reader through 14 steps of “birthing a dream” from the idea, through discernment and waiting, to birthing and sustaining. She includes helpful reflection exercises at the end of each chapter to help the reader process God’s leading in his or her dream.

My dream centers on the Democratic Republic of Congo and journalism. God has made this clear in many ways this past year, and those two things immediately came to mind yet again as I read Booram’s questions at the end of her second chapter, “Brooding”: What do you spend the most time doing? What do you spend the most time thinking about? Where do you find yourself giving the most effort or caring the most? What excites you? Causes you the greatest joy and satisfaction?

(Racial reconciliation also emerged as an answer to her questions about where I put my emotional energy.)

To the man at that church I visited, I know journalism is changing. For example, while I love the look of ink on my hands from a print newspaper, I recognize that online is taking over print as a primary news source– in fact, I contribute to that! Yes, print journalism is not as popular as it used to be, but News itself, though evolving, is still thriving and will always exist in any democratic society. Perhaps rather than dying or even going through a midlife crisis, journalism is merely going through puberty.

I also recognize that journalism does not pay well. Every journalist knows this, but we report because we love the field. I don’t know what the man’s main job was, but if he was a pastor at the church, he may not have made bank either. Church ministry is not an easy field, so I would hope that the man would understand loving a career for what it is and its purpose rather than the monetary benefits it produces.

In all honesty, I had a rough year being News Editor for my paper this past year. I had a love-hate relationship with the job, but after having gone through all the late work nights and stressful meetings and decisions we as a staff overcame, I do not regret it. I am proud of our team, and I will miss being a part of it next year.

When in the rough times this past year, I almost considered leaving journalism, but that didn’t feel right. I know God has called me to journalism in some form, and I want to honor that. I know I will thrive living out my God-given dream and call: journalism in the DRC.

I don’t have every aspect of this dream spelled out, but part of having a dream is the anticipation of it. Butterflies flutter around my core because I know I’m going to be doing what I love even if I don’t know what that looks like yet. My dream’s form may change over time, and that’s okay too. Currently the thrill is in the anticipation and preparation, in the trust I have that God will work it out for His glory.

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African Leadings

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Photo credit: http://www.toonpool.com/user/2442/files/africa_635355.jpg

I have wanted to be a missionary ever since I was a child. God instilled the desire to share the good news of Jesus to all creation from the moment I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and was saved, and I pray that I will act on that conviction through evangelism and future missionary work. I figure that if missionary work is part of my job, I will have to evangelize and will be forced to remember and proclaim the Gospel!

I have loved Africa ever since I was a child as well. I went to Kenya when I was ten-almost-eleven, and that encouraged my love for the continent, but I think I was interested in it even before I visited. I know that I do not love Africa on my own; God has called me there and continues to call me there.

When my focus drifts from God, sometimes He flashes an outline of the continent in my head, and I joyfully remember where He has called me, the greater purpose in my life. God recently gave me another vision or image as well.

The latest image consists of my hand and a black African woman’s hand woven together. We are walking, holding hands, and we are friends. Perhaps I am sharing her burden, as Galatians 6 commands; perhaps she is sharing mine. She is an image reminding me and encouraging me to my future beyond college and the U.S., and I look forward to meeting my African friend.

People ask me where I would like to go in Africa. Some disbelieve my call there, but most people I meet encourage me and are excited. My answer to their location question is unknown. I am interested in central and eastern subSaharan Africa, although I do not fully know why.

I could be more interested in that side of the continent because I visited Kenya seven and a half years ago. I am certainly more interested in the countries with the darkest skinned people, for I have always been attracted to black skin.

I told God that I would go wherever He wants me, even if that means a lighter skinned, Muslim country in northern Africa, however. As I write this, I realize that I did not tell Him the same for western Africa and the southern half of the continent; I shall pray now for Him to open up my heart to those places.

But could my interest in central and eastern Africa — Uganda, Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda, Kenya, and perhaps Tanzania and the CAR, et cetera — be from Him just as He has led me to Africa as a whole? The more I look at a map of Africa and ponder it, the more I am inexplicably drawn to central and eastern Africa.

I am excited to see God narrow my interests a bit. Reflecting on what I studied this past year in my multiple college papers that I chose to write on Africa, I noticed that they all had something to do with refugees. Additionally, I am currently interning at Lutheran Family Services, a refugee and asylee service, and loving it.

After college, I would love to get married and have a family, live in Africa, write print journalism, and do some form of missionary work.

Today my refugee friend told me to go to Rwanda. He was speaking of its beauty, as it is “the land of one thousand hills,” but when he found out my career goals, he admitted that there is much about which I could write and tell the world as a journalist, and he told me about the need for religious classes to be reinstituted in schools there.

My friend was socialized having a religion class from Kindergarten through tenth grade in Burundi, up through 1991. His final two years of secondary school did not include the over-an-hour long classes on Christianity, Catholicism, or religion, and his twelve year old daughter, a newly arrived refugee in the U.S., has had none.

I will continue to study Africa, particularly central and eastern Africa, and pray about God’s future for me. I recognize that I should also begin to learn kiswahili, kinyarwanda, or some other language spoken in Africa despite not knowing specifically where I will go yet. I hope to visit the continent again in the next few years, and I look forward to learning more about refugee and immigrant situations and the cultures represented by my African friends who are now present in the U.S.