“Our ‘yesterday’ may contain a rich collection of God stories, but so does our ‘today.’ ”
I’ve been at this job for 11 years. I’ve seen lots of changes over that time, both with the magazine itself and in the wider world of hard-copy magazines. When I started in 2007, testimony was a monthly magazine. To offset the rising costs of publication, we have gone from 12 to 11 issues per year, and then down to 10. Now we publish every two months. To compensate for the reduced number of issues per year, we now offer six feature articles per issue instead of only four. The look of the magazine has also changed over the past 11 years. We use more images and photos and shorter articles. The cover colours and layout are different. Even the name—testimony—has been stylized to a t. And, of course, testimony is now available online so you can choose to read the magazine on your iPad, laptop, smartphone or in good old-fashioned hard copy. The website www.testimonymag.ca also offers partial content to non-subscribers.
Our inside content has seen change as well. The number of banners under which our feature articles fall has increased, reflecting the broader spectrum of topics being tackled. Two of the feature articles in this issue touch on compelling and contemporary topics. In her article “Beyond Accommodation,” Andrea Foster speaks to the church about how we treat people living with disabilities. She writes what she lives and loves. Her passion for disability ministry is contagious. Her perspective is ground level. I dare you to read what she has to say.
Our ON THE ISSUE feature tackles the subject of mental illness. Robert Jones writes with a compassionate pastor’s heart—but he doesn’t pull any punches. The church has not been a safe place for those who deal with mental illness. That needs to change. Jones offers some practical places to start.
Then there are the stories. People from every walk of life trust us with their testimonies. They may not see themselves as writers, but they have a story to tell. We simply help them tell it. Take Mary Legge’s story, for example. When Jesus said He came to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, He had Mary in mind. “Freedom in Chains” is the title she gave her story, and we couldn’t think of a better one. You’ll find it under the YOUR STORY banner.
We think it’s important to tell our story as well. This Fellowship we call the PAOC is a vibrant and diverse family. Our “yesterday” may contain a rich collection of God stories, but so does our “today.” For instance, try to picture raising a family of nine children while leading a church through a time of radical change. That’s Vinjelu and Kathryn Muyaba’s story. They pastor Lighthouse Fellowship in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and you’ll read about that adventure in our SEVEN QUESTIONS feature. Then the OUR STORY feature will take you three and a half hours northeast to the town of Bonnyville, Alberta, to learn about the revitalization and growth happening at Lakeview Gospel Centre. These are not someone else’s stories. They are our stories. Knowing them builds the fellowship at the core of our Fellowship.
Some things, though, haven’t changed over the 11 years I’ve been editor. One is the amount of work that goes into each issue. It takes a talented team of people to produce this publication. Their dedication and attention to detail blow me away. I’ve been proud of every issue. And we haven’t changed our target audience. Shortly after I took on this job, our general superintendent asked me, “Who do you think this magazine is for?” To help me understand his question, he drew three concentric circles. In the centre circle he wrote “pastors/leaders.” In the next circle he wrote “ministry leaders and workers,” and in the largest circle he wrote “person in the pew.” Without hesitation I pointed to the largest circle. Past editors may have had others in mind when they sat at their desks, but for me it has always been the person in the pew. That’s the person I target when I write. That’s the person I have in mind as I’m combing through potential articles.
One final thing that hasn’t changed is the back-page column. We have always given our general superintendent the last word. I’ve worked under two general superintendents during my tenure: Bill Morrow and Dave Wells. It has been an honour to be trusted to work with their words. I’ve never gone easy on them. And they’ve never raised an eyebrow over my edits (at least not in my direction). David Wells’ column needs to be read by everyone in our Fellowship, from the pulpit to the very back pew (or stacking chair). He speaks his heart, both for God and for the PAOC. His offering in this issue will broaden your perspective of, and deepen your appreciation for, the church.
So brew a cup of your preferred hot beverage. Take your shoes off. Settle into your favourite reading spot and invest an hour or so in this summer issue of testimony. Read every article and department story. Let Phil Callaway make you smile. Chew on what our general superintendent has to say and then join him in his closing prayer.
I’m confident that it will be time well spent.
This article appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.