My friend and colleague, Gary Schneeberger, is Focus on the Family’s vice president of Communications. He recently hosted a group of foreign journalists who came to the United States as part of the East-West Center’s Senior Journalists Seminar. This year’s group included professionals from places like Pakistan, Malaysia, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Thailand. The purpose of the program is for chroniclers of various cultures to get a flavor of each other and the issues that drive news in each place.
I want to share a portion of Gary’s reflection of the experience with you, which I found insightful. I also think it has broad applicability to our individual lives:
I fielded questions for a little more than an hour about things like the role of women in our organization and how our views on same-sex marriage were received by society at large. After they left, I posted on my Facebook wall that I had had a good time meeting with these professionals, who by their questions were not of the Christian faith.
Within a few minutes though, my spiritual father – the pastor of the church (pictured, L-R, Pastor Tom and Gary) where I was saved in Palm Springs – posted this comment:
“Where was that held Gary? Amazing where God drops you at times. How does it feel to be full of His purposes?”
I was taken aback. Initially, I didn’t consider any of this a “divine appointment” – just me engaging with fellow communication professionals. But then I thought more about some of the things I shared during our back-and-forth. In responding to their questions, I didn’t just make a case for biblical marriage or explain the finer points of our Wait No More adoption outreach – I talked about my own experiences, too. I mentioned that I was an ex-journalist myself, and a non-Christian one at that for most of it.
I admitted that I didn’t particularly understand Christians at that time in my life and really appreciated their coming to learn more about us. I mentioned overcoming alcoholism and giving my life to Christ in the same year, 1997. Good reporters that they were, one asked me, with a surprising smile and in broken English, if there was a connection between the two. I proceeded to give a five-minute version of my testimony.
Suddenly, I realized what my former pastor was talking about. I wasn’t just framing the work Focus does for foreign visitors; I actually had a chance to explain to non-Christians how my life forever changed when I turned to Jesus in my pain. As my old pastor later said, “Gary THAT is amazing the open doors that are afforded you through Focus.”
He’s right. There is power within our individual stories, not just of salvation but of how God continually works in our lives, blessing us, exhorting us, chastening us when necessary. As I shared with them how the Lord had cured me of alcoholism, plucked it right out of me, I added that He had left behind the anger and fear and gossip and all sorts of other goodies that He was continuing to help me overcome 14 years after I first called on His name.
Thank you, Gary. I think we far too often miss the powerful opportunities the Lord gives us to “overcome” the enemy “by the word of our testimony” (Rev 12:11) when we share what day-to-day living with Him is all about. It doesn’t have to be foreign, non-Christian journalists, either – every time we steer a conversation toward God’s work in our lives, we are planting seeds the Lord can use to radically transform other lives.
Can you relate? I certainly can, having gone from a homeless orphan to host of Focus on the Family. I regularly look in awe at where the Lord has dropped me. If He is in it, all things are possible.
Where has God placed you in the world today? You might not be thrilled with your circumstances. But if you’re struggling or unhappy with your lot, has it ever occurred to you that He wants to use you just where you are right now?
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