From a Toothache to a Vision

It all began with a pain in the jaw. Elizabeth Mittelstaedt had a routine dental procedure that went amiss and left her with continual pain and permanent damage. Understandably she went into depression, and one day while crossing a footbridge near her home in Germany, she realized that all she had to do was to take one step to the side and she could end the pain on the sharp rocks below.

Glancing across the bridge to a pretty little town, she was struck by the neatness and the order of the scene. God spoke to her at that point and said, "Elizabeth, on the outside everything looks beautiful, but thousands of women are in pain today. It may be emotional, but it's still pain, and they need to know that I am the one who heals."

Out of that experience, Elizabeth, with the help of her husband, Ditmar, $600 saved from her grocery money and a grant from a literature ministry, began Lydia, the first Christian women's magazine in Europe. The experts told her it wouldn't work, but she went ahead. They printed 10,000 of the first issue and gave them away. They now have a circulation of 100,000.

It is difficult by itself to begin a magazine today and to keep it running. But Elizabeth and Ditmar didn't stop there. They looked east, saw the vacuum in literature and began Hungarian and Romanian versions of Lydia, most of which are funded by donations from German women who read the magazine.

Now, here's the part of the story that moves me. Not content with that, they are starting a foundation to help finance more magazines and to train editors and business people. Periodically they hold training sessions in their offices, and in the last few years have helped six new magazines.

This vision for training is catching on around the world. Recently a group of five Christian ministries doing training in publishing met in Germany to compare notes. Included in that meeting were Media Associates International and  Magazine Training Institute both of whom EPA has assisted in its work. Contact these organizations if you would share their vision and get involved in stimulating Christian publishing in places in the world where there is little of it.


Posted June 13, 2007 (but it was likely written between a few years earlier)