MAGAZINES FOR THE MASSES
In every generation the Holy Spirit reveals new methods of effective witness, exactly suitable to that generation – the old message in a new mould. One of these for our day has been a new type of Gospel magazine for the newly literate peoples. The flash of inspiration was first given to a New Zealand couple, Trevor and Grace Shaw. Trevor had been a sports editor for a leading New Zealand daily and his wife also had experience in a newspaper office.
AN ARTICLE BY NORMAN P. GRUBB
After finding Christ through the testimony of a noted sportsman, Trevor Shaw sought means to use his journalistic gifts for the Lord. A door opened for them to go with the Sudan Interior Mission to Nigeria. Taking hold of a small magazine produced for believers, they transformed it into something, which would attract the attention of the African “man in the street” – bright coloured cover of some African scene, articles by African writers, a certain number of them on topics of general interest with plenty of illustrations, on world news, marriage and child welfare, clean sport and so on; but the whole centring in the presentation of a saving Christ through African testimony, Bible studies, quizzes and so on. That they struck a responsive note and cashed in for God on a great opportunity is obvious for the circulation of this African Challenge, as the paper is called, rose in a few years from a few thousand to 150,000 monthly, the editing and distributing of it today occupying a large staff of the S.I.M.
Through Ebony Eyes
But God had more in store for the Shaw’s than the start of one successful magazine. They were to be His agents in sparking off a new method of evangelism throughout the mission fields of the world. They moved first from British to French West Africa, and with the backing of the Governor and other high officials, they started a similar paper in French for the Africans in the French colonies, called Envol (In Flight). Elisabeth de Benoit, a young Swiss worker of a well-known evangelical family, joining them as the French expert on their staff. This paper also had an immediate and surprising success. The story of it, and indeed an insight into the God-given methods of publishing such papers for nationals by nationals, has just been written by the Shaw’s, entitled Through Ebony Eyes (to be obtained from the C.L.C., price 3/6).
Leaving Envol in the hands of Elisabeth de Benoit, the Shaw’s then made their third move. Backed and invited by the numerous missionary societies working in the Belgian Congo, they have established themselves in Leopoldville, the capital of the Belgian Congo, and are busily engaged in preparing no less than three new magazines in the three leading Belgian Congo vernaculars.
Fire Lit World-wide
A paper called The New Nation on the same model, has already started publication in the Gold Coast. The China Inland Mission have started one in Chinese called Deng Ta (The Lighthouse), publishing it in Hong Kong for use among the Chinese population of the Far East. A group of missions whose interests are in Latin America have got together and made arrangements for starting one in Spanish called Vida (Life).
Our Christian Literature Crusade, with its spreading ministry under John Davey and the other workers in the British West Indies, Jamaica, Trinidad, Dominica, British Honduras and British Guiana, soon saw the value of the African Challenge among the descendents of the Africans who people these areas, and have been selling as many as 10,000 of each issue. But feeling sure, from requests made for such a paper by nationals, that there was a place for a West Indian “Challenge” with a full West Indian flavour for the tens of thousands of English-speaking literates in the islands, the C.L.C. have felt called of God to start a CARIBBEAN CHALLENGE.
The Editorial Team
This C.L.C. launch of faith will, of course, be of special interest to our W.E.C. readers. The publishing date, D.V., will be January 1957. The editorial team for the start of it is to be under the supervision of John Davey. It consists, first, of Thelma Cooper, who formerly was a journalist and who, at the call of God, after training at Ridgelands, joined the C.L.C. staff in London, where she worked in the office for two years.
Assisting at the start are also Ken Adams, the founder and international secretary of C.L.C., who has been, under God, the mainspring of this new venture, and who expects to be in the islands for about two months; and Charlton Smith, who, as known to so many, has been the W.E.C.-C.L.C. artist, cover designer, as well as God-used conference speaker, for many years. The length of his visit depends on the time necessary to get the magazine going.
Big Task Before Them
The islands are numerous. It will be necessary to gain the interest and co-operation of the churches and missions in all of them, in the same manner as that of Mr. and Mrs. T. Shaw at the start of their papers. There will be all the contacts to be made to find the right West Indian contributors, witnesses to Christ, artists, and Bible teachers, so that it is an authentic West Indian magazine. Pray especially for them in these coming months. If you send us your name and address and a 6d. postal order, we can in due course send you a first copy of the magazine, when it appears in the New Year. There will later be a valued opportunity of ministry through its sale and distribution among the thousands of West Indians who have recently come to England. We hope to give news in World Conquest of the progress of the magazine, and we are sure it will be of special interest to readers. The cost of the start of such a paper is considerable, and we praise God already for gifts of £100 and a promise of £1,750.
An interesting special link we are also having with the Trevor Shaw’s, with whom we keep in close touch, is that our experienced Ivory Coast workers, Fred and Lois Chapman, have felt led to offer themselves to work with them for a period of two years. Their loss will be a heavy one on the Ivory Coast field, though they remain members of the W.E.C. “on loan” to the Africa Literary Campaign, but at the same time we are glad to be able to co-operate in this way. Lois Chapman, being French and both a writer and artist, can help with Envol and Fred Chapman has always given himself a great deal to literature distribution work. Their assistance at this time meets a special need, as Elisabeth de Benoit, with whom we also have close links, was not able to remain on the field. She has been over at our London H.Q. giving us advice concerning the preparation of the Caribbean Challenge.
Yet that is not the end, but the beginning. It rather looks as if another missionary branch of W.E.C. is being born – a Gospel magazine branch. C.L.C. is a child of W.E.C. This will be a grandchild! We have vision and concern for a Challenge-type paper for Korea, that country of such a ripened harvest. Our energetic national C.L.C. worker there, Timothy Ree, already has started a publication suitable for Christian workers. He is visiting U.S.A. in September as a delegate of the National Association of Evangelicals, and will then stay on for a period at our U.S.A. headquarters. The matter of the start of a “Korean Challenge” will then be spread before the Lord.
Charlton Smith has also been co-operating with our friend Eva Stuart Watt, of Dublin, in plans for launching the same type of paper to reach the Roman Catholics of Eire.
And what of a Brazilian “Challenge” in Portuguese, for that vast harvest-field, and an Indonesian “Challenge” in Malay, and so on? The possibilities are endless.
We hope that this introductory article will stimulate W.E.C. readers to interest and prayer in the Trevor Shaw’s themselves, and their Africa Literary Campaign, in the papers they are publishing, and in the new launch-out of our C.L.C.