Voicu Bojan had a dream. He was a university student in Cluj, Romania, when Bob Reekie met him in 1989. He wanted to publish a Christian newspaper, but at that time in Ceausescu's Romania, Christians could publish only by posting material on big billboards in front of the church. People going by would stop and read. If the publishers wanted to add a picture to the text, they cut it out of magazines and pasted it on the billboard.
Bob had an idea. "Why don't you go ahead and plan," he told Voicu, " just as though you were going to publish." So Bob helped him with the details and the know-how of publishing a newspaper. That was in August. On Christmas Day, 1989, Ceausescu was executed, and by the end of January, Voicu and his friends had 3,000 copies of the newspaper out on the streets.
Voicu and his wife, Kitty, were two of some 180 participants from 56 different countries who recently attended the Litt-World 2000 Conference near London. Others included an editor from Zimbabwe who has been hassled by his government because he wrote about justice issues, a young woman fiction writer from Mexico City, the editor of a children's magazine in Albania, and two publishers from Rwanda.
Media Associates International, which sponsored the conference, trains publishers and writers in countries where there is little Christian literature and few resources for publishing. You might remember that EPA helped with one of these projects for several years by sending funds to train Johanna Ilboudo from Burkina Faso.
I think of MAI as a sister organization. I know that many of you work under tight restrictions with bread-crumb budgets, but you would have been moved and impressed if you had heard the stories of overcoming that I heard at Litt-World.
I have a dream, too. I dream that EPA with all its resources and well-trained journalists and designers and marketing people could reach out to some of these struggling publishers as well as to those in our midst who have great visions but few resources. I dream that Leah, a woman's magazine in Bulgaria, and Occupy, a magazine in Nigeria, and Oleg Turlac of Pulse of Ministry magazine in Moldova could form sister relationships with EPA publications. I dream that EPA, as an association, blessed with the freedom to publish and a wealth of resources, would develop a deep commitment to this kind of service.
As the Litt-World conference closed, the 180 men and women held hands in a circle and sang, "Bind us together, Lord, in your love." It was a moving experience that reminded me that EPA is more than a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. We are bound together in the family of God to help and encourage each other in our ministry.
Thank God for EPA and MAI and the company of those who publish the Word!
Ron Wilson is the former executive director of EPA.