Recently, I had a chance to speak with another one of our college aged supporters–Valerie Pors–via a video call.
Valerie attends Liberty University where ODUSA staffer, Pete Holmes, recently presented during a chapel service. During this powerful gathering, Liberty students stood in solidarity with persecuted Christians, raising their arms in prayer while wearing barbed wire bracelets that read, “One With Them.” (You can watch this service here or read about it here.)
Afterward, Valerie reached out to me because, as a senior in the journalism program, she wanted to explore how journalists could use their skills to participate in ministry work. She also graciously agreed to tell us about her experience in the reflection below.
I loved every minute of the call with Valerie. And couldn’t help thinking about Daphne Stoltzfus, a graphic design student from Pennsylvania, who had also recently shared a college project inspired by Open Doors. The Open Doors staff loves to hear how others participate in the work of the persecuted church. And it’s especially great to see God laying this ministry on the hearts of people about to begin their careers.
If you or someone you know are supporting the persecuted church in your own unique way, I’d love to hear from you too.
In the meantime, enjoy this reflection from Valerie Pors.
Writing for God’s Pursuits
contributed by Valerie Pors
“Free swag” and education—two things that can always be found at a large university. This time, though, the freebies were less about the swag and more about the serious.
I was one of the 10,000 students to receive a barbed wire bracelet reading “One With Them” from Open Doors USA when they came to Liberty University’s Convocation, a thrice-weekly gathering of over 13,000 to worship and listen to prominent speakers.
The panel highlighted the persecuted church, featuring–among others–Pete Holmes of Open Doors USA. Students were informed and challenged to stand with and pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in dire conditions around the world.
I had come to Liberty University precisely for this Christian environment to be intertwined into my academic education. After exploring several different majors—studio art and fashion merchandising—I landed on journalism because I felt that it had the greatest capacity to impact the world in a meaningful way.
I knew that God can and does use people placed in any vocation for His glory—in working heartily as unto the Lord, in stirring fellow Christian coworkers up to love and good works, and in representing Christ well to unbelievers and perhaps sharing the gospel with them. But I figured that if I was going to spend many years of my life working, ideally I would also want the work itself to contribute to God’s pursuits. Entertainment or fashion writing, for example, just felt less worthwhile to me.
As a senior, I had begun thinking seriously about what job or career path to gear toward. An internship writing for Christian Aid Mission, an organization that assists indigenous missionaries in bringing the gospel to unreached people groups, directed my thoughts toward writing for ministry as an avenue to explore.
I wanted to learn more about ministry writing, so I decided to use a petition project, a self-guided honors project proposed to a professor, to explore the experiences of Christian journalists who have adapted their writing to ministry.
At first I focused on missions organizations, specifically those advocating for indigenous missions. What could be more important or meaningful than bringing the gospel to people groups who have never before heard of Jesus?
But after Open Doors came to Convocation, I thought to include them in my research as well. I had become familiarized with the extreme levels of persecution believers face overseas through my time at Christian Aid Mission, and knew that these families need prayer and support from their siblings across the globe.
Hebrews 13:3 states, “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (NASB).
It’s easy to feel that the most important thing is sharing the gospel with those who have never heard it, but the Bible also makes it clear that God holds a very special concern for his children who have placed their faith in Him.
Knowing that this too would be good work, I shot an email to Open Doors requesting an interview.
I had the privilege of speaking with Sarah Cunningham, director of communications at Open Doors, who had formerly graduated from Spring Arbor University with a degree in English and a concentration in journalism. The opportunity was invaluable—a personal conversation in which I could ask whatever questions I wanted to a Christian writer doing exactly what I wanted to explore.
Student can take strategic advantage of self-guided projects or nebulous assignments, leveraging them for career exploration. Whether they themselves are interest in ministry work, or whether they simply want to learn more about the issues that affect the global body of Christ, class assignments are the perfect opportunity because they have to be done anyway.
My mind has been blown by learning about the global church, and I am thankful to have learned about the behind-the-scenes, nuts-and-bolts work ministries do to inspire awareness, assistance and prayer among the scattered members of Christ’s body.