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Members of the WORLD News Group family have lost their earthly father and mentor, Joel Belz. But we praise our heavenly Father for blessing us with a humble and godly man of vision whose legacy, Lord-willing, will live on at WORLD News Group for generations to come.


Well done, good and faithful servant

The life and legacy of WORLD founder Joel Belz

By Lauren Dunn, Kim Henderson, and Lynde Langdon

Joel Belz, founder of WORLD News Group, died Sunday at his home in Asheville, N.C., from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 82.

Those who knew Belz esteemed him as an exemplary son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, elder, teacher, journalist, and publisher. He saw himself as nothing more than a great sinner who had received great mercy.

“Just as it is for every sinner, mine is a story of what God has done for me—not what I have done for Him,” Belz wrote in 2021 … MORE


COVER STORY
His Father’s world
Joel Belz spent his life unveiling the wonder of God and His creation
by Kim Henderson

BACKSTORY
The story seeker
Honoring the life and work of Joel Belz
by Leigh Jones

CEO NOTES
Learning from Joel

Joel Belz’s love for readers and reliance on God set an example for us to imitate
by Kevin Martin

VOICES
Joel Belz—1941-2024
In memorial


Read Albert Mohler’s tribute to Joel Belz in WORLD Opinions

Read WORLDteen and WORLDkids reports on the life of Joel Belz


Listen to Kim Henderson’s report on the life and legacy of Joel Belz

The World and Everything in It, Feb. 5, 2024

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WORLD Radio - Marveling at what God built


Funeral service
Saturday, Feb. 10
Arden Presbyterian Church
Arden, N.C.

Bulletin

The family suggests that memorial gifts may be given to Covenant College, Ridge Haven Cono, or WORLD News Group.


WORLD’s 2021 Daniel of the Year

A world of good

In 2021, WORLD named Joel Belz its Daniel of the Year for his decades of perseverance in helping Christians see the world through God-centered journalism

From WORLD’s Online Archives

The writings of Joel Belz

Read hundreds of our founder’s columns, articles, and commentaries from WORLD’s online archives going back to 1996, including his popular Walmart surveys

The WORLD News Group family gathered with Joel and Carol Esther Belz (far right) during a staff retreat in Asheville, N.C., in October 2023.


We invite you, as members of our extended WORLD family, to share your condolences, memories, favorite columns, and photos of Joel Belz. We will publish as many as we can on this page. (Responses may be edited to yield brevity and clarity.)

*Required field

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Joel Belz. An avid subscriber and reader of WORLD since the early 1990s, I was so inspired by his powerful ability to relate the news through a Biblical worldview that I actually got up the nerve to visit him twice to meet and talk with him. I visited once while WORLD’s offices were in Biltmore Village and another when they were located in a Tunnel Road shopping center. In addition, I had several brief phone calls with him over the years. He was always more than gracious and kind. These interactions, coupled with years of digesting his bold, insightful editorials and the solid news and journalism of WORLD, interwove into my political armor the strong fiber that I have needed as an elected public servant. In addition, he conveyed to me (and to untold countless, countless others) the Biblically based philosophical tools that he employed to advance the Kingdom in the firm, calm, confident, gracious, and humorous manner that so distinguished him. Godspeed to Joel Belz. I am truly grateful.
Ted Alexander
Shelby, N.C.
N.C. Senate District 44

I was saddened to hear of Joel Belz’s death, but I know he is rejoicing in the presence of Jesus. I especially enjoyed his editorials and commentaries when he interviewed people on the street about different issues going on in the world. Those answers and his commentary were very insightful.
Anne Schenk
Wayne, Mich.
Longtime WORLD subscriber

Excellent leader.
Mike Downey
Charles City, Iowa
Twenty-year WORLD reader

As a Master of Arts student at Baylor University back in 2017, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joel Belz for a couple of hours on behalf of Baylor’s Institute for Oral History. When I asked him about what he wanted his legacy to be, Joel offered the following: “I want people to think of me [as] a guy who helped them speak the truth in love. I want us to be people who speak the truth and never back off from the truth just because it’s politically incorrect or something like that, but to do it in a loving way. I think Francis Schaeffer—I go back to him because he taught us that. He said, ‘Be kind when you speak the truth but don’t give up the truth because you think it’s going to hurt. Find a kind way to say it.’ That’s what I yearn for. For myself—I told somebody recently that I think I’ve devoted enough of my life to speaking the truth. I’d like to spend the rest of my life—whatever the Lord gives me—reminding myself and others how to do that in a loving way. I think we need to do that politically. I mean, our country has never been so divided as it is, and it hurts. Families are divided politically right now in ways that I have not seen in all my 75 years. I hope families can learn to live with each other even when they disagree. … It’s in Ephesians. Speak the truth in love. That’s my goal.” (Joel’s complete oral memoirs are available online (transcript and audio). Praising God for Joel’s faithful witness in so many ways over so many years; praying for Carol and the whole family in this time.

Scott Anderson
Columbia, Mo.
Longtime WORLD reader, historian

As longtime followers and supporters of WORLD, Darlene and I had the opportunity to visit with Joel and Carol Esther several times over the last 10 years. What an honor to get to know such humble and authentic people. Joel’s love and devotion to God and His world encouraged us greatly. And their persistence in pursuing God’s calling laid a foundation for continued blessings to many for years to come.
John Wier
Burleson, Texas
Supporters of WORLD News Group

Thank you, Lord God, for using Joel Belz for Your glory in times such as these.
Barbara Smith
Arlington, Wash.

WORLD subscriber, donor, and fellow Christ follower

I have been a WORLD subscriber since the first issue. Those early issues were on incredibly cheap paper, but even then the journalism was excellent. Early on, there were a couple of times I wanted to encourage Joel, so I wrote a brief note like “Excellent issue, keep it up.” They were meant as encouragement but subscriber levels were still low, so I was surprised to see my notes published as letters to the editor. Years later, WORLD was glossy and well-illustrated and still at the top of journalism. Joel’s contribution to evangelicalism has never been praised enough. I was privileged to know him.
Stan Shelley
Hendersonville, N.C.
Subscriber from the beginning

I discovered Joel’s immense talent for cogent insight coalesced from a variety of sources—and always grounded in the Word—when WORLD was just getting off the ground. He quickly became one of my favorites. May he rest in the glory of His grace, We’ll be along soon to join him.
Steve Lyon
Cedar Park, Texas
Fan of long-standing

My wife and I extend our sympathy to the family of Joel Belz. Joel has been a beacon of Biblical truth in the darkness of a society flowing in a different direction and guided by our sinful nature. I have been inspired to evaluate many of my life decisions by the Biblical truth Joel has expressed in his commentaries. It is my hope that WORLD Magazine will continue to publish relevant commentaries by Joel. Blessings.
Gilbert Albelo
Gresham, Ore.
A faithful subscriber to WORLD

Well over 30 years ago, I was ordained in Joel’s Western Carolina Presbytery. I always found him to be a kind and encouraging friend, a wise and dedicated churchman, and the soul of faithfulness. His was a generous spirit. When he spoke on the floor of presbytery, his counsel was worth hearing and the “fathers and brothers” listened closely. The projects and ministries in which he invested over the years all seemed to be abundantly blessed by God. I thank God for his memory.
John Evans
Bridgend, Wales
Friend

Words fail to capture the impact Joel and the entire WORLD News Group has had on my life. I began reading WORLD almost from the beginning when it was first published as a children’s magazine. What an achievement God has wrought through Joel’s life work. I loved his columns. He will be greatly missed, though I’m exceedingly happy that he is now in the presence of God. Favorite columns: Anything on the importance of Christian education and, of course, anything pro-life. I saved all annual Roe v. Wade editions.
Paula Cullen
Spokane, Wash.
A follower and fan and a sister in Christ

Our memories of Joel go way back to Covenant College in St. Louis when Joel and my wife, Shirley, were freshmen together in 1958 and I was in seminary. Joel had his printing press in the basement and could often be found there working. He invited Shirley and some other students to visit Cono over the fall break, so that was her first contact with the Belz family and the ministry of Cono, and we have enjoyed the relationship with some of the family members over the years. We have kept up with Joel and his ministry and feel blessed to have known him. We know that he is rejoicing in the presence of his Lord, Whom he served faithfully. We pray for God’s comfort for Joel’s family and close friends and colleagues.
Bob and Shirley Woodson
Duluth, Ga.
Friends from early Covenant College days

I am thankful for Joel. He discipled me in a Christian worldview.
Brandi Reaves
Memphis, Tenn.
WORLD reader and listener

Now 90 years old, I have subscribed to WORLD almost since its founding. Through the years, it is the one constant in my information world. One I could trust completely. Joel and his able staff have never let me down, and to this day, I almost always read it cover to cover when it arrives. Blessings and God’s peace to his loved ones and the WORLD family. Please keep providing what this world needs so desperately: the truth and the gospel.
Donald Luckert
Louisville, Colo.

I go back to some of the earlier days of WORLD when the magazine was it (mostly). I had lunch with Joel one day (circa 2008) in the sandwich eatery on the lower level of my workplace on K Street. We had wonderful conversations about WORLD and some personal stuff. I hit on him to bail me out from my secure but meaningless job as a fed by setting me up as a part of WORLD. Shortly after that, Joel was lessening his duties, and it did not appear I would fit in with the new regime. Our family still reads WORLD Magazine and appreciates all the history with Joel behind it. Joel made it and he set it up as a grand influence in the treacherous world.
Webb Stevens
Williamsburg, Va.
An avid reader of WORLD Magazine at the time

It was my privilege to work with Joel at God’s World Publications from 1984 to 1987. It would take many pages to write a proper tribute, but two traits stand out in my memory. 1) A commitment to truth-telling, even when that truth might sometimes be painful. 2) A firm belief in the power of God to do what might seem impossible to us. When I arrived in Asheville to take on my responsibilities with The Presbyterian Journal, Joel advised me that, when the tensions become too great, just take a ride up the Blue Ridge Parkway. I am happy to realize that Joel is now enjoying scenes even more beautiful and rewarding than those on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Favorite Columns:
Will Barker
Columbia, Mo.
Former WORLD staff member

Joel was still coming into the office regularly when I first started at WORLD almost 10 years ago. During our conversations, he always made me feel like the most important person in the room. He would ask how my kids were doing and we exchanged stories about family and God. He had such a vested interest in every one of God’s creations. Here I was, a brand new Member Services representative, and Joel Belz remembers my name, my kids, and where I grew up and went to college. He even gave me some advice on speaking to an unhappy member, which was to say (and believe) “You may be right, and I may be wrong.” I am now realizing I’m not the only one he gave that gracious advice to as I read all the wonderful things people have written in tribute to Joel. Later, as a member of the IT team, I had the pleasure of helping Joel with techy things, and he was always so gracious and thankful, even inviting me and the kids over for tea as a thank you. Joel was and will forever be dearly loved by so many. It was an absolute honor and a pleasure to have known him.
Alison Spring
Asheville, N.C.
WORLD staff member, 2015–present

Joel greeted me cheerfully in 2014 when I visited his office in Asheville. He was warm, engaging, and eager to learn about me and my vision. My wife and I are deeply grateful for his legacy embodied in WORLD Magazine and associated publications. We just gave a small gift in his memory to WORLD.
Robert Osburn
Roseville, Minn.
WORLD subscriber

I got to know Joel through his sister Julie, the wife of PCA pastor Al Lutz (who was my pastor during my college years). I last saw him when he attended an OPC General Assembly after he took over the editorship of the magazine that would eventually become WORLD. He shared with me his burden for truly Biblically based journalism (as well as for his other passion, Christian education). As I have watched WORLD grow into WORLD News Group I have thought often of brother Joel and rejoiced that he saw his dream of journalism with a genuine Christian worldview impacting our culture. His gentle leadership; sagacity born of upbringing, experience, and grace; and his Christlike humility were such gifts to WORLD. I praise the Lord for his life and I pray that his influence will continue to permeate WORLD News Group. Indeed, well done, good and faithful servant. 
Bill Shishko
Deer Park, N.Y.
Pastor, The Haven at Commack (OPC), Long Island, N.Y.; acquaintance; and New York’s biggest fan of WORLD!

I will always remember the first time I met Joel. I was a 20-year-old college student spending a month in Asheville for a WJI course. During our free time, my WJI roommate and I stopped by the WORLD offices, which at the time were housed in an old mall. Although I know Joel had many more important things to do, he stopped what he was doing to talk with us and show us around the office. He was so kind and encouraging to us. I also remember how hospitable he was to our WJI class, being sure to extend invitations to various fellowship gatherings that happened while we were in town. His legacy lives on in the many lives he touched.
Kristin Chapman
New Castle, Pa.
WORLD staff member

Joel and I met each other when we were each 13 years old when I was still Barbara Miller. My family, when moving from Pennsylvania to South Dakota, had stopped overnight at the Cono School and the Belz home, where I visited classes with the Belz kids and others. Later, Joel and I were at Covenant College in St. Louis where we all mixed and matched. He took me to a banquet, which was a very nice date. We were both busy studying, working hard at jobs, and dating others, but Joel seemed to be the same Joel—always enthusiastic. Years later, whether he needed a ride from the airport in Colorado or showed us his new computer in Asheville or stopped by Baltimore, he had the same embracing personality. He loved us, and we loved him back. I’m sure those who worked with him caught that same joy for living. And to the family, I imagine your many fine memories will not fade.
Barbara A. Mischke
Parkville, Md.

My first face-to-face conversation with Joel was on his 79th birthday. I was in Asheville for the launch of WORLD Watch. I was asked to do a story on the occasion. I was nervous! I prayed for strength and courage, but I felt way in over my head. After interviewing a number of my colleagues, it was time to sit down with Joel. How kind and patient he was toward me. He wanted to know my story and took time to ask me questions. Here’s what I remember most about our conversation. Joel said he learned from his father this: “Speak the truth to a 12-year-old. … Take your message and cut it so that it makes sense to a 12-year-old. … You’ll be amazed at how many adults are listening in.” I have held on to those profound words throughout my time at WORLD. One other memory: At the end of our conversation in his office, Joel thanked God. He said about the birth of WORLD Watch, “To have that come on the day that I turned 79 years old, that’s my birthday. How could any believer in God’s sweet provision … how could anyone say this was not a special gift that the Lord gave me. I’m thankful for it.” And I’m thankful for Joel Belz and his example of being steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Joel’s labor was not in vain.
Myrna Brown
Spanish Fort, Ala.
WORLD staff member

I am mourning with you the death of Joel Belz. Most of my interactions with Joel were through his wisdom in his words on the podcast, but I did have the opportunity to meet him several years ago when members of the team came to the Raleigh area to put on a “live” show. I spoke to him for just a minute or two, but his kindness and patience were overwhelmingly evident. I told him how I spent my days homeschooling my young sons, and as we parted, he took my hand and told me to keep doing good work. At that moment, I felt both seen and encouraged, and over the years, his words occasionally came to mind (and still do). As we all know, because he kept doing the good work, he left an incredible legacy for his family, fellow professionals, church, and the world of journalism. I am so thankful for Joel Belz, and I’m crying even while typing this. What an encouragement to know that he heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when coming into true life. Thinking about that will also continue to prod me to keep doing good work. I’m praising the Lord for gifting us with Joel.
Amber Wredberg
Raleigh, N.C.

I extend my deepest condolences to Carol Esther and family. I worked with Carol in the library at Covenant College from 1971 to 1975, and we were close. I was in on the early days when she started dating Joel and saw their love and relationship grow and result in a long and blessed marriage. She was—and I presume still is—a wonderful cook, and I still use some of the many recipes she shared with me. I am so glad that she and Joel had a long and blessed life together. Love you, Carol Esther 💕
Sarah Willcox Johnson
Chatsworth, Calif.
Co-worker with Carol Esther at Covenant College

Joel founded WORLD, and it’s the perfect place for me—a news outlet that takes both its journalism and its Biblical outlook seriously. I regularly marvel that I’m being paid to do what God gifted me to do and what I’ve always wanted to do. For that, I’m supremely grateful to Joel. Favorite commentary: “Making Christian education accessible.”
Juliana Chan Erikson
McLean, Va.
WORLD staff member, 2014–present

Our deepest sympathy to Carol Esther and the family on the loss of Joel. It was such a loss for the family. But also a loss for the community, the Church, the country, and the world. God summoned home a bright, articulate, compassionate, self-disciplined, and insightful journalist of impeccable integrity with a well-thought-out and consistent Biblical worldview. He will be remembered not only for what he did but for who he was. In the tradition of the likes of C.S. Lewis, Joel’s legacy will continue long after he has gone home. I am so impressed with his work and his character. As a Christian school administrator, I am so grateful for his student publications that helped cultivate a Biblical worldview in impressionable youth. May those who remain at WORLD Magazine/God’s World Publications be faithful to Jesus and to the Biblical worldview that Joel cherished and lived out in his season among us.
Delmar Groen
Mesa, Ariz.
WORLD reader, school subscriber, and fan

I met Joel in 1988 while taking my dad to a wedding in southeastern North Carolina. My dad knew Joel when Joel was growing up in Iowa and Dad spoke at Cono Christian School. I was an avid reader of The Presbyterian Journal and WORLD since its beginning. I’ve benefitted from Joel’s wisdom most of my adult life (I’m only three years younger), and I’ve enjoyed WORLD reprinting some of his earlier columns in current issues. I hope they continue the practice. He was a mighty warrior for Christ and always gracious.
Bill Bordeaux
Roanoke, Ind.

Ruth and I, along with our two daughters moved to Asheville in 1981. We joined Covenant Church where the Belz family worshipped. We got to know Joel and his family through church, school, and work at God’s World Publications. Joel and I, way back then, were interested in green energy and saving money on utility bills. Our first project was a solar heater we built out of plywood, plexiglass, and two-by-fours. Success was average. Our next project was building a pre-tank water heater using the basement wood stove. We ran the pipes from the cold-water feed around the body of the stove and then off to the cold water valve of the water heater. Success was minimal due to all the joints and connections. The third idea was what we thought would be the crown of our utility conservation attempts. He wanted to divert gray water from the sinks and washing machine so he could water the garden, which was at a lower elevation than the house. The crown of our “save energy and water” turned into an old wool hat with moth holes in it. It was, from what I remember, illegal to divert even gray water from the sewage system and the cost of many feet of PVC pipes could never be recouped. Disclaimer: At my age now and busy life at the time, I pray my memories are still fairly accurate. Ruth and I have many, many more wonderful memories of Joel and his family and appreciate the opportunity to share just one small part with you.
David and Ruth Shackelton
Hardeeville, S.C.
A dear friend and a brother in Christ

I first met Joel in January 1995 when I interviewed for the job of art director for WORLD Magazine. What immediately impressed me was—of all things—his office at Innsbruck Mall. It was plain and ordinary—nothing grandiose or luxurious like one might expect for the CEO and founder of a company. It spoke volumes to me about his character. Joel had his priorities straight, and his servantlike humility was a reflection of his Savior. He cared more about people (his employees, friends, family—even the frequent homeless person outside our offices) than himself. He was genuinely kind, gracious, generous, wise, and approachable. His door was always open, and he was always ready to listen. Everything you’d want in a boss, a friend, a father. He and Carol Esther were the epitome of hospitality, with frequent invitations to their home—not just to me but everyone: weeknight suppers, Lord’s Day dinners, overnight guests, hymn-sings, Bible studies, prayer vigils, youth group meetings, and church services when snow shut down the roads. Joel even gave my young son Carson a ride on his lawnmower to calm him down before Carol gave him a haircut (see photo). Everybody who knew Joel loved him. Respected him. Admired him. His passing to glory is obviously his gain but our great loss. My favorite quote is by Matthew Henry, who said, “Death is not only a conquered enemy but a reconciled friend to the people of God, not sent to hurt the soul or separate it from the love of God, but to put an end to all their grievances and complaints, and to give them a passage to eternal life and blessedness; so that to them death is not now in the hand of Satan but in the hand of Christ. Death is not Satan’s servant but Christ’s servant, and has not hell following it but heaven to all who are in Christ.” I have no doubt Joel was greeted with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant. … Enter into the joy of your master.”
David Freeland
Tallahassee, Fla.
Friend and WORLD staff member

My first memory of Joel was when I was a freshman at Covenant College in 1965. He was this quirky guy who worked for the school, but, more importantly, he rented out his VW Bug to students for 25 cents a mile. I vividly remember a harrowing ride I had one bright fall day with Joel’s future brother-in-law, Render Caines, at the wheel. I saw my life pass before my eyes several times during that trip. Joel was a fixture at the college, and I am forever grateful that I got to know him. Joel and I were from different halves of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. He was from the ES side and I was from the RP side. One of the things I enjoyed in those early years at Synod was seeing Joel and renewing our friendship. On this site, we have been asked to share an article that was a favorite. I don’t remember any particular article, but what I do know is when I read WORLD, I would go to the column he wrote first. When I heard today that Joel had died, the first memory that came to mind was being with him at the 1979 RPC,ES Synod in Greenville, S.C. We sat together at the service when they memorialized those elders who had died that year. Joel and I shared our grief. His dad, Max Belz, died that year as did my father, Richard Gray. We haltingly sang together “For All the Saints Who From Their Labor Rest.” It was an unforgettable memory of Joel. He now sings in heaven’s chorus with “all the saints who from their labor rest.”
Mack Gray
Bloomfield, Conn.
I met Joel at Covenant College in 1965

My favorite memory is from the fall of 2011 when the Catacombs men’s hall at Covenant College set up a gymnastics trampoline (procured during a Lookout Mountain, Tenn., neighborhood game of Bigger and Better) on the chapel lawn to welcome the Board of Trustees visiting the college as they came out of chapel, and Joel wasted no time in clambering onto it, shoes and all, with an ear-to-ear grin on his face.
Timothy Daugaard
Elgin, Ill.
Classmate and friend of many Belzes

Joel gave a short talk at my school when I was young, and he left us with a great admonition. “Don’t say ‘that leaves me cold,’” he said. He urged us to cultivate true curiosity about the world around us—to work for a sense of wonder about math, space, history, books, machines, etc. Uncle Joel was an effective speaker because he was persuasive and he spoke with a twinkle in his eye. His words rarely landed heavy, and I left a conversation with him replenished.
Max Belz
Savannah, Ga.
WORLD staff member and Joel’s nephew

When I was a freshman at Covenant College, I remember crossing paths with Joel on campus and thinking, “Wow, that’s the founder of WORLD Magazine!” (which I had grown up reading). As we passed each other on the sidewalk outside the aptly named Belz Hall, we made eye contact and he smiled and nodded at me. As a timid freshman, I felt seen, and the brief interaction stuck with me. Four years later, I met him again, this time as a brand-new WORLD employee. He gave me that same kind smile and chatted with me like I was just as important as all the editors and senior reporters who were in the room. And many times after that, when I saw him at the office, he showed the same genuine interest in my life and always thanked me for the work I was doing. I have great memories of joining Joel and Carol Esther in their home for a meal. And I had the privilege of interviewing Joel about the early days of Covenant College. He wasn’t the easiest interviewee though, because he kept trying to steer the conversation away from himself! But that fits the man he was—compassionate, genuine, and always focused on others.
Hannah Harris
Asheville, N.C.
WORLD staff member, 2019–present

WORLD first came into my mailbox in 1988 thanks to the unexpired portion of my Eternity magazine subscription when that publication folded. My anticipation of Joe Bayly’s “Out of my mind” column was quickly replaced by Joel Belz’s commentaries. It’ll take me a good while to adjust to WORLD with a Joel Belz–shaped vacuum.
Peter Kushkowski
Portland, Conn.

As Christians, we mourn in the sure hope of resurrection to eternal life with Christ. To God be the glory. As the principal of a Christian school in the ’80s, I yearned for an alternative to Weekly Reader. It’s God’s World fit the bill. Generations of students were blessed.
Bruce Nelson
Byron Center, Mich.
Early subscriber to It’s God’s World

The first time I met Joel, less than a year ago as a new hire at WORLD, is one of those memories that will stay with me. He was already struggling with significant Parkinson’s complications, but he invited my team over to his house to pray and worship. We all wanted to talk with him about his years at WORLD and glean from his insights, but instead, he spent the remainder of our time asking about us: What were our favorite stories? Did we have everything we needed at WORLD? How did we see our mission as journalists? How could we do better? He spent time hearing from each of us with such care and kindness, even when speaking was difficult. His servant-hearted attitude was so evident. At the end, we sang “May the Mind of Christ, My Savior,” and it brings me joy to realize that his sharp and thoughtful mind is fully united to Christ now.
Elizabeth Russell
Hillsboro, Va.
WORLD staff member

I met Joel in 1986. My wife and I visited Asheville, N.C., and, uncharacteristically, I said, “Let’s go meet Joel Belz.” I had received the first issue of the magazine, as I was a subscriber to The Presbyterian Journal. We showed up unannounced at WORLD’s then tiny office, where Joel graciously gave us a tour and introduced us to everyone (it didn’t take too long). I was 28. Thirty-two years later, at 60, after a career as a federal prosecutor, I was privileged to begin working for WORLD News Group—and, periodically, seeing that same gracious man. Sometimes, he called me on the phone with an idea or question. For Joel, there were “no little people” (to quote Francis Schaeffer). Everyone—from the visitor who dropped in unannounced to every employee to those he talked with on his “man on the street” interviews—was important. They were God’s image-bearers. He was genuinely curious about their lives. In late summer 2023, Joel and his wife, Carol Esther, had lunch with me in Raleigh. Walking back to his car, Joel said, “You have used your gifts and abilities to serve the King.” He would have given the same commendation to anyone associated with WORLD. I only wish that our lives had intersected more, as I would have been richer for it. For decades, Joel reported on the news, both bad and good. Now, for him, all the news is good. He’s with his Lord. I’ll miss him. Favorite column: “A test for news junkies,” where Joel wrote, “The ‘mind of Christ’ takes at least a lifetime to form. The broad strokes of a Christian’s walk with God may be simple for a new believer to comprehend—but all the details and nuances of application to this sinful and broken and crooked world take the patience of someone assembling a 2,500-piece jigsaw puzzle. And nothing promotes that process better than regular exposure to God’s explicit words in the Bible.”
Steve West
Raleigh, N.C.
WORLD subscriber since 1986 and WORLD staff member since 2019

Christ used Joel Belz to make my life better and my ministry wiser. Thank you to WORLD News Group for carrying on this mission.
Wade Mobley
Plymouth, Minn.
Professional colleague (president of a Bible college)

In March 2020, WORLD Magazine invited us to write notes to Joel Belz. On this occasion, I would to offer that note as a tribute. One of the books on the shelf near my bed is Joel Belz’s Consider These Things: Observations on God’s Word in the World. It is a small compilation of short essays, but it sheds big light and long shadows. I keep it handy because it is great at helping me maintain proper perspective. The book concludes with an essay called “Atrium” that I think is a fitting description of WORLD Magazine’s impact on me. “An atrium is one of my favorite architectural distinctives,” Belz wrote in the opening lines of the essay. “There’s something about getting rid of the ceiling and lifting my eyes that prompts my heart to soar. Some people like wide open spaces. I like wide open entryways and tall hotel lobbies.” WORLD Magazine has been my favorite atrium since I discovered it in the mid-1990s. On a nearly daily basis, it gets rid of my informational ceilings, lifts my eyes to what is actually happening in the world, and helps me see things from God’s perspective. The essay asks the question about WORLD, “Is this magazine secular or spiritual?” Belz’s reply, “The best answer is that I have decided—or better that I’ve de-sided. There aren’t two sides. Just as there aren’t two floors. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.’” WORLD isn’t where I go to get a Christian slant on the news. WORLD is simply where I go to get my news and a perspective that is truly global. For instance, I challenge anyone to find another news source that has given more consistent attention, in-depth analysis, and accurate information and perspective on the emergence of South Sudan. WORLD is like an open entryway and a tall hotel lobby for me. You never know who you will bump into in a hotel lobby, but it is often quite interesting and informative. WORLD allows me to enter a grand hotel lobby that is filled with those I need to meet and interact with. It has helped me to enter “conversations” with all sorts of people and issues in the news, as well as engage in real conversations with real people and issues in my family, church, community, and world. The name “WORLD” is underrated. At first, it sounds a bit ostentatious, but I have found it to be most fitting. As with the illustration above about South Sudan, I think it is fair to claim that WORLD has done an admirable job of covering North American and global news for the two decades in which I’ve read almost every page of every issue. WORLD Magazine truly deserves its name. In conclusion, I’m writing because you asked us to pray for Joel’s family and colleagues and send a note of encouragement. I took your invitation seriously and have been praying. Several years ago, Joel visited a church network leaders conference of BILD International that we held at our headquarters in Ames, Iowa (perhaps because it was convenient for him on a trip back to his home state). He seemed to devour the opportunity to meet new ministry leaders from around the world and to learn about what we do to support church-based theological education. It was the only time I’ve met him in person and it was indeed an honor. My respect for Joel Belz as the force behind WORLD, as well as a real person with roots in Iowa, could not be higher. Be assured that we will continue to praise the Lord for his servant Joel Belz who has done so much to bring me into an atrium of “the Lord’s earth and its fullness thereof.” Favorite column: “Atrium.”
Stephen Kemp
Ames, Iowa
Avid WORLD reader and listener

My heart broke when I heard about the death of Joel Belz. While I wasn’t a close friend of his, I did meet him while a student at Covenant College (1978–1982). I was a brash, proud freshman, coming to Covenant after a six-year hitch in the U.S. Navy. I was a bit left of center at the time and wrote a couple of pieces for the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. One of the columns was particularly caustic—looking back on it now, even slanderous. Joel gently but firmly rebuked me for the piece. I bristled at the time but came to see it more and more as a blessing. I learned a lot from reading Joel’s columns in WORLD Magazine and became an ardent admirer of his. I even had the privilege of having a book review published in WORLD, a copy of which I still have in my library. I will be praying for his family as they “grieve as those who have hope” and trust our heavenly Father. Favorite columns: Most of them!
John Pummell
Faithful WORLD reader

Our world is turned upside down but Joel Belz always pointed to True North. He modeled this to me: Seek to understand the other guy first, really listen, think about it, and then (in time) respond in humility. Never make myself the center of a story, remember Whose you are, and act accordingly. That’s what I learned from Joel on the few occasions I had to speak with him directly. Joel Belz held outsized influence over me in relation to the constellation of people in my orbit. To quote C.S. Lewis in another context: “For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.” The unshakeable is the testimony Joel lived for Jesus Christ. Favorite column: In recent memory, “Designed to be hidden: Our culture has learned how to cleverly conceal the truth.”
Mary Reichard
Strafford, Mo.
WORLD staff member, 2014–present

I met Joel when I was a student at Covenant College, class of 1993. I had the privilege of driving him from and to the airport for college trustees meetings a time or two, and when he and Marvin Olasky visited Portland, Maine, in 2003 for a seminar on Biblical worldviews, my wife and I drove down from Bangor for it. I was thrilled that Joel remembered me and what I had studied. Ten years since I’d last seen him, he was still encouraging me to make Christ preeminent in all areas of my life. God be with his family. Joel is rejoicing, but we will weep for a time.
Bill MacDonald
Orrington, Maine
Acquaintance through Covenant College

I had the privilege of working in Joel’s office (with Alan Duble) at Covenant College after my junior year in high school during the summer as a member of Operation Lookout (back in the dark ages—the summer of 1969). Both of these men were always on the go and were great examples of godly men who lived and worked for the Lord. I’m grateful to have known both of them (and later to babysit those precious children of Joel’s as a student at Covenant). A favorite memory I have of Joel is him carrying both his “babies” through the lobby of Covenant with one under each arm! Sweet memories. May the Lord comfort his family on earth as we all look forward to a reunion with him one day in heaven, with Joel completely healed!
Ginger (Newton) Loomis
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

I’m one of the old guys—subscribed to the old Presbyterian Journal in the late ’70s—long about the time Joel Belz started to work there—and then to WORLD when it first came out. I and my family have benefited from Joel’s vision—who woulda thunk back in the early ’80s that my grandkids would be watching something called WORLD Watch on something called the internet—all as a result of Joel’s vision. Years ago, I was traveling somewhere for work. The gentleman next to me on the plane noticed me reading WORLD Magazine and engaged me in conversation. It was my privilege to meet Joel then. I look forward to engaging in a longer conversation in the by-and-by. May the Lord bless his family with the peace only He can give.
Jon Freeman
Brady Lake, Ohio

May the resurrection and prayers of comfort surround Mr. Belz’s friends and family as he travels home to meet his Lord and Savior. What a beautiful soul! His legacy to the Great Commission cannot be measured or overstated. He was a capable steward over all God placed in his care. And a lifetime of work with one purpose, for the Glory of God, continues to bear good fruit. What more could any Christian ask? May this good and faithful servant rest easy. My heart and prayers surround each one left behind. Big shoes to fill.
Susan Yoder
Avon, Ind.

The things I will remember about Joel: his bold witness for Christ, his kind spirit, and his keen wit. I will remember the sparkle in his eyes and the way he made everyone feel special. In conversation, he asked the best questions and really cared about the answers. I praise God for Joel’s faith, vision, and tenacity to begin and grow this organization, and I’m truly grateful to play a tiny part in the work of WORLD News Group. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Sandy Barwick
Fletcher, N.C.
WORLD staff member, 2013–present

I first met Joel when he taught logic at Covenant College in 1972. We saw each other infrequently over the decades, but he always remembered me and was the same friendly person who made time to catch up. Favorite column: The one exposing homosexual bullying of a California state legislator.
Mark Holler
Chattanooga, Tenn.
Brother and former student

In 1981, we planted Covenant Presbyterian Church in a rural area south of Easley, S.C. About once a month, Joel would make the trek from Asheville—with his tribe—to encourage us. During Sunday school, a graduate student from Clemson was tearfully struggling with predestination. Joel commented, “Sometimes we need to let God be God.” That comment rang true for her—and all of us. Well done. Joel got to the heart of the matter. Favorite columns: During the days of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, Joel would publish a humorous one-page summary of the annual Synod meeting. Since The Bulletin Supplement was the regular RPC,ES publication, if I recall correctly, Joel called this witty exercise “The Bulletin Supple Movement.” One year, Synod was held in the Greenville, S.C., area. The Bulletin Supple Movement recorded that each delegate was given a “telescopic nitpicker” so that the delegate could pick nits off any speaker from anywhere in the audience. Perfect!
Stephen Bostrom
Helena, Mont.
Covenant College (my wife); RPC,ES; PCA; companion

I have been a subscriber since the early days and have fond memories of sitting on my living room floor with my children reading God’s World. We read about children in other parts of the world and new ideas and inventions. At one time, the word was out on the newest M&M’s color about to be released. My kids had a blast being the first to know … impressing all of their friends. Ha! When we were told a magazine for adults was in the works, we were thrilled. Perfect timing as my children were becoming teens. For years, the first article I read was Joel’s. It set the tone for the rest of the magazine. I especially enjoyed his Walmart interviews. I knew there were hard years. I am thankful for Joel’s vision, for bringing together an amazing team, and for keeping and/or attempting to keep the team together all these years! That had to be hard when one’s job was to talk about religion and politics. Kind of a miracle, I would say. Ha! Once my children became teens, I began writing and interacting with The Dallas Morning News. Not only did I want to challenge the paper’s thinking, but I also wanted to stretch my own ability to communicate with those outside the faith. Reading WORLD was invaluable to me. Thank you for your hard work, research, and God-honoring center. Joel will be missed. May those who pick up the baton continue what he has begun. LORD, keep us faithful!
Bobbie Keith
Garland, Texas
Reader of WORLD

I was so sorry to learn of his passing Monday morning. I hope someone will write a biography of his life. Blessings to you all.
Walter “Wally” Stansbury
Petoskey, Mich
.

How heaven must be rejoicing! He was truly a man after God’s own heart and His servant for our generation. How blessed we are!
Kate Fallis
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Oh, my deepest condolences to all. As an early subscriber (since 1986), I have been a devoted reader and have appreciated his commitment to truth in news reporting.
Laura Fels
London, England
Longtime WORLD subscriber

We had the honor of meeting Joel decades ago shortly after the start of WORLD Magazine. We were invited to a dinner in Asheville and learned more about the “ministry.” He truly was a faithful servant. He will be missed.
Dicky and Marywinn Amaya
Shelby, N.C.

“Just as it is for every sinner, mine is a story of what God has done for me—not what I have done for Him,” wrote one of my longtime friends and ministry heroes who has now gone home to be with the Lord. Our loss is heaven’s gain. I first became aware of Joel Belz and the excellent magazine he founded in the mid-’90s when my then pastor and friend, Jerry Helton, stopped me one Sunday morning after church and said, “I’ve got a magazine to give you that you will love.” It was WORLD, and Jerry was absolutely correct. If memory serves, that was 1994, and I have been a loyal reader ever since. In every issue, I always turn first to Joel’s column, then eagerly feast on the rest. Years later, my brother-in-law Brian Morrison married Joel’s daughter Esther Belz—much to my delight. I remember telling my wife, Lisa, “We’re going to be related to Joel Belz—sort of.” Joel may or may not have been as thrilled about that as I was, but over the years, I was privileged to come to know him as a humble, godly, trusted, gentle, and uber-gifted journalist-theologian–Christian thinker whose work shaped my own writing and Christian journalism in profound ways. I am grateful for Joel, his wonderful wife, Carol, our rock-steady (like her dad) sister-in-law Esther, and the Belz family, and I am praying for God’s comfort as they mourn this giant loss. I am grateful for WORLD Magazine. I am grateful for the incredible legacy of faithfulness to God’s call that Joel obeyed, a calling that will continue to echo into eternity through his work at WORLD and in his dedication as a churchman in the Presbyterian Church in America. Well done, my brother. He was God’s good and faithful servant all the way to the end of his race. His legacy is massive, a life well-lived to the glory of our great God. Favorite columns: Any of his columns about the craft of journalism. I always read him first. Still do, even the “greatest hits” that have been published since Joel has been in poor health.
Jeff Robinson
Greenville, S.C.
Joel’s daughter Esther is my sister-in-law

He came as an evening speaker to a church plant in Clemson, S.C. Joel arrived for the Sunday service and told us that he was starting a magazine in Asheville. It must have been 1986 or 1987, but I still remember the sparkle in his eyes as he talked about the project. He discussed his past experiences, moving a printing machine and storing it, offending people when they asked him questions about his theology and his abiding vision that we Christians needed a thoroughly Reformed magazine. I barely knew what that was, but I liked what I saw of it in Joel Belz. I was a subscriber to Eternity magazine at the time, and shortly after Joel came, I was informed that I could be a founding member of WORLD Magazine. I’ve treasured my status ever since.
David Woodard
Seneca, S.C.
Regular reader of Joel’s columns

I was so sorry to hear the news when I listened to my Monday morning The World and Everything in It. He was such a part of my whole experience with WORLD. I first met this organization in the ’80s when our church started a small ACE school. The children received their own copies of your God’s World News. I loved it. Having grown up receiving Weekly Reader, this was such a wonderful substitute. And then we started getting subscriptions to WORLD Magazine for the high school children. We were raising 12 children, and the expense for the high schoolers to get their own copies of the magazine seemed a little excessive. But then I began reading these magazines also. By the time all my children were out of the school, I continued subscribing to WORLD Magazine. And now I read the magazine from cover to cover. It has become my most trusted news source. It has guided my thinking back to Biblical principles through the uproar of elections. It has opened my eyes to concerns and needs around the world. It has been a source of finding reading material. It has helped me tweak my worldview in needed ways. And the people that work at WORLD have become “friends.” They don't know me, but I have gotten to know them. I am so, so thankful for Joel’s vision and work through this medium. I pray that influence continues. I also pray for his wife and family through the loss of his presence with them. Favorite columns: All of them. His ability to bring us back to ground zero when things seemed to be shaking apart.
Kathy Collins
Rolla, Mo.
WORLD subscriber

My husband and I subscribed to Eternity magazine and were shifted to WORLD when Eternity ceased publication. We have always been thankful for WORLD and have given gift subscriptions to many. We didn’t realize until lately the key role Joel Belz played in founding and guiding WORLD to its present position. We are thankful for him and his legacy!
Barbara Hoshiko
Ashland, Ohio

In 2019, I had the honor of taking the leadership of WORLD News Group through a process designed to deliver a compelling story about what WNG does, how it does it, and why it matters. Joel was an active participant in those sessions. I clearly recall the moment when, reflecting on WORLD’s readers and listeners, Joel said, “We have to earn their trust.” That statement became one of the organization’s core values, and now it sits atop the cover of each issue of the magazine: “Earning your trust, every day.” Joel inspired words, ideas, and people, and he will be missed.
Mart Martin
Atlanta, Ga.
Contractor, longtime reader, and listener

He was a humble man of God. What an awesome legacy he left for us all. May the Lord comfort the family. In Jesus name,
Dan and Liz Gardner
Rowley, Iowa
Dan grew up with Joel at Cono Christian School

I am a “nobody” magazine subscriber, but that is significant! One can never know how far-reaching one’s actions and decisions can extend or how many people can be impacted by them until we are all with our Lord and Savior. Though you will never know me, this impact is very real in my life and my relationship with God. He said we should be generous and cast our bread upon the waters, and this is how I will think of Joel Belz. May these blessings keep returning to you abundantly. Favorite columns: Too many to count! My husband and I have dog-eared and filed many of them.
Lynnae Hinkley
Morrison, Colo.
WORLD Magazine subscriber

I was so very saddened to hear of Joel’s death as I listened to the podcast and felt the tears fall at the thought of our great loss. I am very thankful for his vision in starting WORLD and how it’s taken on so many wonderful iterations. My prayers ascend for the Lord’s comfort over those of you who knew and loved him most. Favorite columns: I honestly cannot pinpoint a favorite but have made a point to read his columns when I get new editions of the hard-copy magazine.
Cynthia Foster
Elizabeth, Colo.
Regular podcast and magazine subscriber

When I first began working for WORLD in 2022, I learned that Joel Belz was unwell and had been for some time, so I assumed I would probably never get to meet him this side of heaven. But one afternoon while I was attending the editorial retreat in 2023 (pictured above) my boss, Mickey McLean, introduced me to both Joel and Carol Esther. I remember thinking that the founder of WORLD and his wife probably wouldn’t be too interested in meeting me—a part-time editorial assistant—but upon our introduction, they were both very warm and friendly. Although it was obvious that Joel’s health was failing, I remember that he and his wife took the time to personally thank me for the work I do for WORLD. While I haven’t been blessed to have years or decades of knowing Joel like many of the others on staff, I feel deeply privileged to have had the opportunity to even briefly meet this man who exhibited such kindness and humility to all those he came in contact with. His vision for Christian journalism has been blessed by the Lord, and from the columns I’ve read and the commentaries I’ve heard, the bar has been set high. May the Lord grant us grace and the ability to follow the example of our dear founder, Joel Belz, even as he followed Christ’s (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Charissa Garcia
Taylors, S.C.
WORLD staff member

In my home library, I have a picture of Joel and me from just a few years ago when I dropped by the WORLD News Group office in Asheville for a visit. I keep it proudly displayed for everyone to see because Joel was such an inspiration to me. I love to share stories with friends and family members who see the photo of the jolly journalist who started a Christian worldview media group. Joel from the beginning made my wife and me feel like we were part of the WORLD family. Joel was a visionary who followed God’s promptings with great faith. Coming from the financial world, I marveled at Joel’s willingness to take risks, adapt to technology, and, most importantly, stay true to the mission. He was an entrepreneur with a big heart for the Lord, his country, and people. I am thankful for Joel’s enrichment of our lives and for speaking boldly with truth and grace to the culture. The world is a better place because of his good works and devotion to the King. May he rest in peace, our friend in Christ. Favorite columns: Every one of them! They set the tone for each issue and were the one article I never missed.
Greg Winchester
Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
WORLD News Group reader, listener, and friend

Joel was remarkable. He once told of arriving at a public library where he sought and found the director. That hasty lady immediately assumed he was the tardy speaker engaged to talk to an expectant group of children. She conducted him to face them and left. His right hand was in his pants pocket where he had stowed a broken wristwatch. He took it out and threw it on the floor with all his might, where it gratifyingly shattered to the gasps of his juvenile audience. He immediately had their undivided attention. He then used the destruction as an object lesson of some truth about God. I am so sorry to have forgotten what that lesson was. But his cheerful and relaxed dependence on God in the unexpected situation was typical. He was instant in season and out of season, teaching and pointing others toward God. Favorite column: I loved the one about the 1949 Sunday bulletin Joel printed for the church of which his father was pastor. Somehow it survived until a rummage among old papers turned it up for use in a 2020 column in WORLD. Almost 8 years old at the time, he was responsible for setting the moveable type of a Kelsey printing press to change hymn numbers and sermon titles for this weekly paper. This rings true—Joel said his father ensured that he and his siblings understood that work is honorable and rewarding and wanted them to have both a profession and a trade. What a genius employment insurance plan! So Joel learned this ancient craft, becoming adept much later on the Linotype, the most intriguing machine ever. The column included a photograph of the venerable bulletin and Joel ended the piece by noting the angular folds on the two pages. He and his brother had turned the announcements into paper airplanes.
Nancy Rice
Culpeper, Va.
Friends since 1963 at Covenant College, St. Louis

“The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come” (Isaiah 57:1).
Juan Lopez
Peshastin, Wash.
WORLD reader

Although I never met Mr. Belz, my growing-up years were shaped by the Biblical worldview behind WORLD news. I am grateful for the factual and thoughtful articles that taught me so much about thinking through media stories. Thank you all for following God and sticking with this publication through the years.
Lib Noori
Aubrey, Texas
WORLD subscriber

Joel and I first met when we were both graduate students at the J-School at the University of Iowa. Over the years, we both served the Evangelical Press Association as board members and president. Like Joel, I entrepreneured the founding of several magazines and newspapers, and we frequently compared notes about the business of publishing. We knew others of Joel’s family, specifically Mark (who did attorney work for us) and Nat (who did design work for Prison Fellowship when I worked there). I visited Joel as often as was convenient and admired him greatly. His development of the children’s papers and then WORLD Magazine was a signal event in religious journalism. I admired and appreciated him and was grateful for his friendship. Our sympathies to the many family and journalism colleagues who will miss him greatly.
Terry White
Winona Lake, Ind.
Classmates and fellow journalists

I am thankful for Mr. Belz, for his tremendous contribution to this enterprise that allows us to get the news that informs us and supports our Biblical worldview. I know he will be missed, and I pray for the blessings of comfort for his friends and family.
Karen Mathiesen
Hendersonville, N.C.
WORLD subscriber

A giant has ascended.
Randy Daniel
Stockbridge, Ga.
Became a subscriber after someone left WORLD in my reception room

I first met Joel and Carol when I participated in the inaugural 1999 World Journalism Institute class. We had a barbecue at their home. I had no idea then how integrated my own story would be with WORLD Magazine. What I remember most throughout the years: Joel loved singing hymns, no matter how big or small the gathering. He loved Scripture and talking about his Lord and Savior. He liked to ask questions and listen more than hear himself talk. He cared deeply about WORLD’s mission and the people that are a part of that mission. It’s a gift to carry on that legacy.
Mary Jackson
Santa Rosa, Calif.
WORLD staff member

Joel was wise and insightful in his columns and full of warmth, kindness, and encouragement in person. He was a great and inspiring man, and I will always be grateful for his faithfulness to God and his Christlike example.
Krieg Barrie
Hoquiam, Wash.
WORLD staff member

I want to express my thanks to Mr. Joel Belz for establishing this magazine and news agency. Though I never met him personally, his foresight in creating WORLD and his dedication to continue its development are both commendable and will continue to bring Christ-centered news to me and the world at large. May Mr. Belz rest in peace and enter into the much-deserved joy and rest of his Master.
Jake G.
Longtime reader

I have been so blessed to have known Joel for more than 28 years. Although his passing saddens me, I rejoice in his homegoing! I know he heard those great words, “Well done.” Joel was faithful, not only to his Lord, but to his family, church, friends, and his calling to whatever the Lord asked of him, including his work here at WORLD. Joel made an impact on so many lives, including my own, and for that, I am so very thankful. I’ve only had the opportunity to see Joel a handful of times in the last few years, but each time, he was always in good spirits despite the toll that Parkinson’s was taking on his body. Even in his weakness, he always made it a point to ask how I was doing and how my girls were doing. Nothing was ever about Joel but always about others. I am so thankful for his leadership, counsel, prayers, kindness, and care toward me and my family. Joel was a treasure and will be dearly missed. Continued prayers for Carol Esther and the entire Belz family.
Trina Sullivan
Houston, Texas
WORLD staff member, 1995—present

I first met Joel Belz in the late 1990s, when I was a corporate and tax attorney with a nonprofit focus in Atlanta, trying to build a practice. A friend and former member of my church had gone to work for WORLD. I traveled to Asheville and had lunch with Joel and a couple of staff members. What I remember from that day is Joel’s kindness, his not being a respecter of persons (he agreed to meet with this no-name really just because he was a brother in Christ—and not even really Reformed!), and the breadth of his friendships across the orthodox evangelical world and his understanding of and respect for people inhabiting its various corners. Fast forward to 2022, when Joel sends me an email encouraging me in my work as the new president of an agency of the Presbyterian Church in America, another building project dear to him. I drive again up to Asheville, this time for a relaxed conversation and sweet fellowship on the Belz veranda with this servant whom I had come very much to admire and respect. Diminished strength and energy but the same love, kindness, and brotherhood. I pray for rest, peace, and real joy in Christ for Mrs. Belz, the whole Belz family, and the WORLD family. Favorite column: “Window-gazing” (or some such title): frank, logical, matter-of-fact, and discomfiting.
Tim Townsend
Tucker, Ga.
President of the PCA Foundation

Joel was a publisher, but he was more of a churchman. This is a rare identity, today. It wasn’t any desire on his part to be any ecclesiastical player but simply to love and serve the Bride of Christ. His work for the Church flowed from his call to shepherd God’s flock, one by one. Joel was willing to make enemies for the sake of conscience and did so opposing the neutering of Scripture, racism within the church, the slaughter of the unborn, the promotion of sexual perversion—the list could go on, but it was never any “culture war.” It was simply his deep knowledge and affirmation of his call received from the Lord to spread His authority and rule over every square inch of this good earth. This world is poorer for his loss. May the Holy Spirit comfort his wife, Carol, his family, and his church.
Tim Bayly
Bloomington, Ind.
Fellow elder

I have been a reader of WORLD since its inception (appreciated Kevin’s short history this month). Joel was an articulate, honest, and inspirational writer; I always felt like we were having a conversation when I read his columns. I have appreciated his timely Voices column lately. He will be missed, but his legacy continues, Praise God!
Teresa Barnhart
West Branch, Mich.

I remember one Sunday when Joel Belz and his wife came to visit our church in Indianapolis, and he was asked to speak on brokenness. After telling a heartfelt story, he explained that there are no perfect formulas for how to raise a family, but what he learned was the power of the Lord God through prayer. He then offered to pray for other people’s sons or daughters who had gone astray. However, there was one condition: He would pray if you would be sure to contact him with God’s answer even if it was years later. He kept a notebook and dated the request and then the answer.
Diana Hunter
Indianapolis, Ind.
WORLD Magazine subscriber

In 2007, Joel Belz was a guest in our home and wrote an article quoting my husband, a former police officer. Several years after that we visited his church in Asheville, N.C., and he greeted us each by name. He was an amazing man. Our sympathies to his family and thanksgiving for allowing so many to share Joel’s words of wisdom. Favorite columns: I always looked forward to his regular column, and valued his wisdom and godly perspectives.
Louise Stearns
Murphysboro, Ill.
Longtime subscribers to WORLD

May the Lord fill you with His comfort, blessing, and peace. When I saw this headline, I cried. Even though I have never met Joel Belz personally, I feel like I have known him for a long time. I have been a WORLD reader from almost the day WORLD began. I have always loved the Biblical perspective on events going on throughout the world and the underlying theme that God is always in control. Many times I have given the free trial subscriptions to family and friends and hoped that many of them also developed a love for WORLD. The couple from whom we bought our current house were also WORLD Magazine fans. The gentleman and I quickly developed a bond over being fellow Christ followers and fellow WORLD readers. He told me a story that he once took a trip to Asheville and stopped by the WORLD Magazine office and asked if he could say “Hi” to Joel Belz. To his surprise, Joel asked if he wanted to go out to get a bite to eat together, and they had a wonderful meal and a great time visiting together. He said that Joel was one of the most friendly, down-to-earth persons he had ever met. I thought, “Wow, I’d love to do that someday.” I guess I missed my chance to do it on this earth, but I can look forward to meeting him in heaven someday. By the way, the man I talked about passed away about a year ago. But I bet he was standing just inside heaven’s gate yesterday along with a big crowd of people welcoming Joel home.
Albert Holmes
Louisville, Tenn.
WORLD reader and fan

The first time I met Joel was in 1990 when I was pregnant with my first child. He offered my husband a job, which meant we would need to move to Asheville from St. Louis. Although I didn’t want to change the plans I had for my child, God changed my heart. He knew His plans were much better. Joel, Carol Esther, and the entire WORLD staff welcomed this clueless new mom into their community with such overflowing love. Joel always took an interest in each of our five children. They consider him an additional grandparent. We’re still at WORLD. For more than 33 years, Joel has displayed genuine godliness, love, kindness, grace, hospitality, and humility. I praise God for what He has accomplished with Joel’s willing hands and heart.
Arla Eicher
St. Louis, Mo.
WORLD staff member

As avid readers of WORLD Magazine, we were delighted one day in 2010 when we found ourselves driving past WORLD headquarters in Asheville, N.C. We decided to stop by and were shocked to find out that Joel Belz wanted to greet us personally! We had a delightful meeting and were extremely impressed by Mr. Belz’s desire to meet and talk with two strangers who just happened to walk through the door. That action alone taught us much about Christian leadership. We have been vocal promoters of WORLD ever since. Our deepest sympathies to his family and our gratitude for sharing Joel with so many other people. God bless you.
Laverne Larson
Onalaska, Wis.
WORLD subscriber

I have had the privilege of knowing and working for Joel since 1998. After my father died, Joel was kind to take me to lunch, ask about how I was doing, and share his memories of my dad. This is just one example of Joel’s kindness to his employees. He treated us like family. Favorite column: “An arrogant blowhard.”
Rob Patete
Asheville, N.C.
WORLD staff member

I rejoice with Joel’s passing because it reminds me that this world is passing and we as believers long for our eternal home. Joel is now home. I have been reading these shared memories with tears in my eyes. I know Carol and the family grieve for now but are reminded that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. My wife, Cathy, and I will pray for comfort for you all! We were subscribers to the “kids papers” and eagerly subscribed to the “grown-up version” when it first came out. Joel visited Houston and made time to come to our home for a visit. He asked my wife to join the board of WORLD, but due to her being a homeschooling mom of seven, she said no. He looked at me and asked me. I was second choice but happy to come alongside Joel in the work he was doing. Joel was an example of godly servant leadership. He cared about those he met and was always curious about the world and everything in it! We will miss Joel and will continue, with God’s help, the work begun by this good and faithful servant. Favorite columns: I enjoyed reading every one he wrote.
David Strassner
Houston, Texas
Subscriber, friend, WORLD board member since 1992

Having read his columns for so many years, I feel like I have lost a good friend. Favorite columns: My favorite is the one I just read. Especially the columns that have been rereleased for publication. His espousing of truth stands the test of time.
Cheryl Williams
Little Rock, Ark.
WORLD reader since the beginning

Joel brought me and my wife, Carol, and our little girl, Rebecca, to Asheville from Hutchinson, Kan., in the summer of 1981. As managing editor of The Presbyterian Journal, he had received the go-ahead from the Journal board to start a “Christian Weekly Reader.” He had received 45 applications for the position of founding editor of God’s World News. Not one of the 45 applicants met all six of the requirements he had established. A close friend of ours in Kansas, Harry Wilkey, was a Journal subscriber. He called me one day and said he had read a short news item about Joel’s new project and his hunt for an editor. Harry told me, “Norm, that’s you!” So … I wrote a letter of inquiry in April. No response. In June, I was in Minnesota visiting the principal of a Christian school concerning a job opening there. I called Carol one evening and she told me that Joel Belz of The Presbyterian Journal had called to speak with me. She gave me his number, so I called. He said he was interested in me and asked me to send him my credentials when I got back to Kansas. Shortly after that, he called me back and told me he would rather fly me out immediately for a long weekend. So I went. The rest, as they say, is history. He hired me. At that time in Kansas, the real estate market had tanked. There were for sale signs in front yards all over town, but virtually no sales. I rented a for sale sign for $5 and planted it in our front yard. The Lord sent a buyer within five minutes. Well, not exactly, but figuratively, yes! We rented a U-Haul truck, and our church friends loaded us up. One of them, a young, single guy named Lawren Havlik, came with us to North Carolina, driving my Corvette as I drove the truck and Carol drove our SUV. Praise the Lord! As a footnote, after eight years of publishing God’s World, our company began publishing WORLD Magazine. Over the years, we had received many requests from parents and teachers for such “an adult version.” Joel was editor. His many years of service to the Christian community and to our own family and church have been a great blessing to so many. I’m thankful for Joel, and praise the Lord!
Norm Bomer
Asheville, N.C.
Former WORLD staff member

I’ve worked at WORLD and with Joel for over 17 years. He always had time to talk and pray with me. He was brilliant, a walking encyclopedia of knowledge but humble and caring. Joel had a vision of what God’s plan was for him. WORLD is blessed, our readers are blessed, and I am blessed to have known him!
Kerrie Edwards
Mills River, N.C.
WORLD staff member 2007–present

Joel was a gentle giant among men, in character, heart, service, and passion for God’s Church in times of adversity and trouble. I first met him and Carol at Covenant College in 1975, and since then, I’ve known Joel as a man with a wonderful soul and a keen mind for the things of God and His people in a shifting culture. Joel always made you feel like you were the important person—the one worth a million bucks. A great encourager and mentor to many. Joel continues to cheer us all on now from the grandstands of heaven as we continue our journey of faith here below. Blessings and thanks for all of his investments in so many others.
John Parrish
Asheville, N.C.
Longtime admirer and friend

My deepest condolences to the family and close friends of Mr. Belz. I never met Mr. Belz but enjoyed his columns and the magazine he founded. What a gift from God! I started subscribing to WORLD Magazine nearly from the beginning and gave gift subscriptions for the children’s publications and WORLD itself on several occasions. I’ve admired WORLD’s unwavering stand for the gospel. I grieved over the editorial breakup, still not understanding the issues, but thrilled to see WORLD continue.
Matt Anderson
Lino Lakes, Minn.
Former guest columnist

Prayers for the Belz family and rejoicing for Joel. How comforting to know that you know that you know Joel has heard the ultimate, “Well done.” Favorite columns: I loved his Walmart surveys. Always genuine, funny, and eye-opening.
Timi Rice
Livingston, Texas
Subscriber since the mid-’90s

My respects to the family and friends of Mr. Belz. I thank God for the legacy he built.
Diana Matthews
Whiteville, N.C.
Graduate of January 2021 WJI mid-career course

I have been a subscriber for over 25 years. My go-to’s when I first receive an issue of WORLD Magazine have, from the beginning, to read the essays/editorials of Joe Belz, Janie B. Cheaney, and Andrée Seu Peterson. I have been deeply edified by not only the content but the clarity, insight, and wisdom about, especially, contemporary culture, both secular and in the Church. At 70 now, I can testify that Joel, in particular, has been one of only a few 2 Timothy 2:2 older men in my life. I’m certain more than ever that our Lord’s presence in Joel’s life and now, especially, his homegoing are precious in His sight, indeed (Psalm 116:15).
Ward Slager
Chelsea, Ala.
Longtime subscriber and supporter

Please accept our sympathy and prayers for Carol Esther and the family. We know how much Joel will be missed. I don’t remember exactly how we found out about WORLD Magazine but have been subscribers almost from the beginning. We especially enjoyed meeting with Joel a few times and visiting the offices many years ago. Joel will be sorely missed but indeed his legacy will go on! What a blessing Joel was to so many! God bless you and comfort you as you grieve the loss of Joel, but at the same time rejoicing that he is with the Lord. He was a wonderful man. Favorite columns: We don't have a favorite column—speaking for myself, we loved all of them and looked forward to reading Joel’s column first!
Heinz and Nanalee Wegener
Cumming, Ga.
Longtime subscribers and supporters of WORLD

I will be forever grateful to Joel—and Carol Esther, his life’s love and selfless partner in all things. Years before I even knew who Joel was, I signed up our children for God’s World publications, thankful and amazed such newsletters existed. That began our children’s lifelong interest in seeking the truth about current news and seeing God’s hand in it all. Decades later, I excitedly got to meet Joel for the first time and finally thank him personally for all he’d done and for the opportunity to write for WORLD. Even though weakened by Parkinson’s, he radiated keen interest in everyone in the room, offered words of encouragement, joked with us, and joined in singing hymns of praise and gratitude. This man was a world-changer. May we follow his example.
Sharon Dierberger
Stillwater, Minn.
WORLD staff member

When I joined WORLD full time back in 2008, I was tasked with bolstering our online presence, and Joel was a constant source of encouragement to me. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with anyone who encouraged me as much as he did. Every time I traveled up to our offices in Asheville, he would take time to sit down and talk to me about my work, my family, my church, as well as my spiritual health. He had a way of looking at you with a twinkle in his eyes that showed he was sincerely interested in what you were doing, and those encounters always left me with a renewed sense of purpose. I thank God for those times I had with him. We all know how Joel enjoyed taking visitors on a tour of WORLD headquarters, introducing them to the staff and explaining what we do. When he would get to me, he would, in my estimation, overstate my importance to the organization. Afterward, I would feel pumped up about my work but I also knew that I’d better live up to his accolades! I will miss Joel, his kindness, his humility, his presence, his encouraging words. May his legacy at WORLD, Lord-willing, live on for many, many years to come. Favorite column: I remember one from 2002 that inspired me in my career path. Joel was looking for a “needle in a haystack” to work for WORLD, and I wondered what it would take for me to one day join him in his mission. I praise God in His providence that I was eventually “discovered.”
Mickey McLean
Opelika, Ala.
WORLD staff member

I feel like an old friend has died. I’ve read his columns and appreciated the wisdom he shared for so many years. God bless and comfort his family. And we rejoice that now he is in the presence of his Lord and Savior!
Diane Rogstad
Monrovia, Calif.
Column reader

I first met Joel at a conference promoting Christian education he spoke at in Southern California. I was involved in startups that became Providence Christian College, and Joel was an encourager as well as someone I turned to for advice. His was a wonderful example of living out the calling we all have as believers to bring all of life under the Lordship of our Savior.
Geoffrey Vanden Heuvel
Tulare, Calif.
Joel was an adviser and encourager to me

Some decades ago, I applied for a position with WORLD Magazine. My final interview in the vetting process was with Joel Belz. As I sat before his desk, I was prepared to once again highlight my professional résumé. However, Joel’s first question to me was, “How did you come to know the Lord?” When I related my late life conversion with Joel, and alas with many tears on my part, he said something I have never forgotten, with sincerity and tenderness: “Our Redeemer has chosen to build His kingdom with broken pieces.” Joel was a dear brother and marvelous advocate of our Lord. May his family be comforted in his loss.
Don Shelnutt
Carrollton, Ga.
Former WORLD staff member

Joel was a warm, transparent, approachable man who was genuinely interested in people. As a remote freelancer for WORLDteen, Joel always seemed to go out of his way to welcome me to the WORLD “family.” One time, he drew me aside and asked me how my work was going and what my favorite piece of writing was. Of course, I drew a blank. But he graciously told me to think about it and get back to him, urging me to email him later because he wanted to read my work. I did, he did, and then he emailed me back to tell me he’d read and enjoyed my piece. So kind of him to take time to do that!
Kim Stegall
Greenville, S.C.
WORLD freelancer

Deepest condolences to the family of this godly man. As a teenager in an increasingly sinful world, I was greatly encouraged by this man. Favorite columns: I loved all of his columns and especially loved the reprints of old columns. They were so prophetic.
Alyssa Wells
Seabrook, S.C.
WORLD reader

As a college sophomore, I began receiving a gift subscription to WORLD Magazine. That magazine—along with Joel’s writing in it—showed me during a formative season that people of faith could and should use their brains when engaging with the wider world. Faith and the minds God has given us must not be divorced from one another. I am very grateful for how WORLD has and continues to shape me. And, of course, I'm grateful for Joel and his family, for the sacrifices and time they invested into the work of WORLD. I pray for the family and friends Joel left behind. May the God of all peace comfort you!
Jacob Roberts
Monroe, N.C.
WORLD staff member

I was a student at Cono Christian School in Walker, Iowa. Joel was one of eight Belz children. He had already graduated, but since he was so connected with the school since his parents started it, he was frequently there. He was always interested in you as a person and was kind and humble. I continued on to Covenant College where he was still very connected. After graduating, I taught in several Christian schools and I asked them to purchase WORLD Magazine for my students. I loved using it in the classroom. I have enjoyed Joel’s columns throughout the years. They are timeless. Joel will be missed by many people around the world—including me. He was a blessing to many. I know his family and extended family will greatly miss him and his godly wisdom.
Holly Cory
Littleton, Colo.
Friend of Joel and the extended Belz family

This would be condolences to Carol. We are sorry for your loss but know the joys of Joel going home. He is surrounded by some of the giants of our world: Rudy and Collyn Schmidt, George Soltau, and many others who impacted our early Christian lives. I am reminded of Carol’s babysitting for our newborn twins. Carol used to cut my hair in the basement at Covenant. It became a luxury we were unable to afford, so she taught my wife how to cut my hair. Having recently celebrated our 54th anniversary, Lynn still cuts my hair and does a wonderful job, so, thank you, Carol. We talk of you frequently because of this gift and hope you find many memories to make you smile as you reflect back on those early days with Joel.
Lynn and Jay Lykins
Coweta, Okla.
Friends of Carol

I send my condolences to Mrs. Belz and her family. We subscribed to the children’s God’s World papers back in the mid-’80s. I remember thinking I wish there was a magazine for adults. Sometime in 1988, we learned about WORLD and have been subscribers ever since. Rereading some of Joel’s columns in the past year or so has amazed me how prophetic his exhortations about the consequences of trends in our culture were. His legacy is evident in the vision and quality work the current WORLD team does. Favorite column: One of my favorite columns was recently republished. It was the column that reprinted portions of the 1924 eighth grade exam given to students for entrance into high school. That was around the time John Dewey began propounding his vision of education. The thought came to me that after 100 years of his influence, most adults couldn't pass that eighth grade test.
Lynn McLinden
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Longtime subscriber (since 1988)

I remember meeting Joel Belz for the first time. I held him in awe because I was so impressed with WORLD Magazine, yet he was a humble man who never held himself aloof and was concerned about people and fairness. Favorite columns: I always loved his columns from his interviews at Walmart. He understood the “man on the street.”
Clarke McIntosh
Anderson, S.C.
Friend from another PCA church in Asheville

I am so sorry to hear of the passing into glory of this faithful servant of God. I appreciated very much and was blessed by the columns of Joel Belz over the years that my late husband and I have subscribed to WORLD Magazine. My prayers and condolences are with his family. May the Lord Jesus comfort and strengthen them with His love and peace now and in the coming days. He will be greatly missed by all of your readers. I praise the Lord for saving the soul of this wonderful man and for giving him the faithfulness to walk with Christ all of his Christian life. May the Lord bless Joel’s family and those who worked alongside him in the publishing of WORLD Magazine.
Cynthia Rydelnik
Schenectady, N.Y.
Subscriber to WORLD Magazine

Back in 2003, I applied for an open position at WORLD. Joel offered me the job over the phone and invited me to call him back any time with my answer. A few days later, I called him to accept the position. He answered the phone and I could hear background noise. I said “Joel! Debra Meissner calling—is this a good time?” He answered, “Debra I’m eager to speak with you, but can I call you back?” I later found out he was on a stage getting ready to speak to 200 college students. And he took my call! Joel always made me feel like the most important person in the room. A selfless encourager, gracious and humble, whose embodiment of Philippians 2:3 had a massive impact on my life. I, too, am blessed to have walked alongside Joel here at WORLD.
Debra Meissner
Asheville, N.C.
Friend and WORLD staff member

I am thankful for Joel’s faithfulness to God and to honest journalism. My three boys grew up on God’s World News and it shaped their ability to read and understand the news. Praying for Joel’s family and their loss.
Kimberly Leonard
Monument, Colo.
Avid reader and a grateful subscriber

The first time I met Joel was in 1999 when I was a new reporter for WORLD Magazine. I was in Asheville for the first World Journalism Institute, and Joel and Carol Esther had invited some staff to their home for lunch. The very first question Joel asked me was, “What do you like most about working for WORLD?” I was a little taken off guard, though I later learned I needn’t have been since Joel was as gracious as he was direct. Still, he was The Founder and The Publisher, and I was nervous! What popped out of my mouth was, “The thing I like most about working for WORLD is that I feel like I’m doing what God made me to do.” That, to me, was one of Joel Belz’s most amazing accomplishments: He created a place where Christian journalists could explore his Father’s world and tell of all God’s wonderful works, knowing we would never be asked to compromise either Biblical truth or journalistic ethics. It felt then and feels today like running free in the fields of the Lord. WORLD News Group has been operating now for more than 40 years, with Joel providing leadership, guidance, and encouragement the entire way. Even as he struggled through illness, he faithfully showed up for our staff devotional on Zoom. A couple of weeks ago, he was cracking jokes from his hospice bed. Every once in a while, someone passes into glory whose life was so constructive—to use Joel’s brother Andrew’s word—that you pull up short and ask how you might emulate even a fraction of it. Joel Belz was such a man. We will miss him mightily.
Lynn Vincent
San Diego, Calif.
WORLD staff member

Our hearts are with you all during this time of grieving, yet with hope. We are thankful for Joel’s perspectives on God’s Word and world. We live overseas and have valued having access to news through a Biblical lens from our home country.
Christine Hayden
Bangkok, Thailand
Listener to
The World and Everything in It podcast

In 2016, when we were in the Asheville area for a biennial family reunion. My wife and I decided to forgo the rest of the family’s visit to a local mansion in order to visit the WORLD’s small office in town. My late father had told me he had met Joel at a Christian Booksellers convention years prior, and we had enjoyed WORLD and Mr. Belz’s columns for years. I called the WORLD News Group number and June McGraw told us Mr. Belz was there at the time. After meeting June at the reception desk, she led the two of us back to meet Joel in his office. He immediately and graciously stopped whatever he was working on to invite us to sit at the table in his office and visit. I told him of my father’s meeting him some unknown years earlier. We chatted about current news and WORLD News Group’s humble beginnings and how God had blessed its growth over the years. We shared with him a prayer burden for our daughter who was struggling with addiction at the time and he turned around and grabbed a little black prayer request book, one of many (we heard from Andrée Seu Peterson) that he kept in his office. He opened his book and added our daughter’s name to the others, including his own children, whom he prayed for regularly. He said he would pray for her by name and we were humbled and grateful. He showed us around the building to the small staff working there and explained the day-to-day process of getting our favorite news magazine to our mailboxes and our favorite podcast out on the web. Joel Belz took almost two hours out of his day to welcome and visit with a couple of readers from Minnesota and to offer to pray for our own daughter. Joel’s prayers, along with ours and many others, were answered. We will never forget his kindness and encouragement. Thanks, Joel. See you soon. Favorite columns: We enjoy the wisdom he expresses in them all.
Tim and Vivi Oberg
Minnetonka, Minn.
Loyal readers, longtime subscribers, “friends”

How grateful for the strength and perseverance of Joel Belz for starting a “Newsweek magazine for Christians” so many years ago! And how WORLD has flourished! We are very thankful for the witness to the love and strength of Christ of Joel and his wife through the years. He will be missed by all who knew, loved, and admired him. But we will join him “further up and further in” before we realize it. Our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.
Ray and Vicki Putnam
Warren, Ore.
Loving readers and listeners

May Joel’s soul rest in perfect peace. Amen.
Frederick Owuye Esq.
Ibadan, Nigeria
Reader

I just joined the WORLD News team back in October and never got the chance to officially “meet” Joel, but I have been a subscriber to WORLD Magazine and a listener of The World and Everything in It ever since I discovered WORLD a few years ago. While I never got to know Joel personally, I feel like I know him after hearing so many of his commentaries. He was winsome and witty. At the same time, he spoke Biblical truth clearly in a way that was never antagonistic or patronizing. And he had the wisdom to recognize that journalism itself could be a ministry and that there was a need for a fair and objective media outlet founded on a Biblical worldview. Joel's influence can be seen throughout WORLD News Group. And it’s an honor for those of us on staff to play a small part in its continuance. Being so new, I don't have many memories of Joel, but one stands out. It took place during online devotions on a Wednesday in November. (WORLD employees from all over the country gather on Zoom every Wednesday morning for devotions.) There were a few dozen of us on the call, including Joel, who had logged on from home. The employee leading the devotion had talked about how God’s goodness and sovereignty could be seen throughout creation. Throughout ALL creation, with every created being having an assigned role. Even stink bugs! At the end of the devotion, he opened it up for questions and comments. Joel unmuted his microphone. It was clear he was not feeling well. But he leaned into the camera so his face filled the screen and said (I’m paraphrasing), “Jonathan! You tell me ONE good thing about a STINK BUG!!!” Then he laughed. His sense of humor was obvious. He had all of us in stitches. I think I learned more about Joel in that moment than even a treasure trove of commentaries could have taught me. I’m sure my fellow WORLDlings who knew him longer have many more similar stories. I’ll just say this: Well done, good and faithful servant. And thank you for creating a news outlet where Christian journalists can glorify God by reporting from a Biblical worldview.
Travis Kircher
Louisville, Ky.
WORLD staff member

Joel Belz was my cousin and I remember he and Carol Esther would send me and my brothers birthday cards, even though we lived halfway around the world. I remember feeling very loved with him writing a simple birthday card, and I think about how he must have impacted so many with his extensive writing for WORLD! I praise God for his ministry!
Aynsley Vivian
Columbia, S.C.

I always appreciated Joel’s kind words and wisdom at the Covenant College board meetings. He was so welcoming, and my friend, Jane Patete, always spoke so highly of him!
Kathy Wargo
Wilmington, Del.
Covenant College Board of Trustees

Next month would have been 30 years of me knowing Joel. I came to work for God’s World Publications in 1994, a single young woman with no family in the area. Joel and Carol Esther and their daughters, who were all not far off from my age, welcomed me thoroughly. Not only did I get to learn and grow and be mentored and discipled for decades by Joel and Carol Esther, but all four of my daughters also experienced the blessing of knowing and being known by the Belzes. I’m humbled and honored to be able to continue working toward the same goals for God’s kingdom he started out with in 1981. Through him, God has multiplied the organization, its mission, Joel’s vision, and so many learners’ application of faith to life.
Rebecca Cochrane
Fairview, N.C.
Friend and WORLD staff member

He was a solid rock. Always faithful to Scripture. Very insightful. I never met him, but I feel like I knew him. I have lost a friend. Heaven has gained a brother.
Tim Roth
Wake Forest, N.C.
Longtime reader, listener, and advocate

My heart was not expecting what the unusual Sunday “News Alert” brought, that WORLD founder Joel Belz had passed away. When I first subscribed to WORLD Magazine, I became familiar with and then eagerly looked forward to reading Joel’s columns. I will now be getting every old copy out to reread, and relearn, from all of his superb, God-centered contributions and forthright musings—that often make me laugh—as he sharpened our own thoughts and perspectives to realize and understand how significantly God envelops our lives, daily. I am ever grateful to Joel Belz for showing the world that God is in everything, including, or maybe especially, the events that become news and other everyday issues that happen and that shape our world and affect us all—God is always there, in the smallest of details. I pray the Lord showers Joel’s family, and the WORLD family with His compassion and love.
Eletta Files
Lakeside, Calif.
Longtime avid learner

In 1994, I interviewed for a job as assistant editor under Nick Eicher at WORLD Magazine. Nick was so sure I would get the job that he showed me where my desk would be. But Joel, being the careful and considerate gentleman that he was, made sure I understood that there might not be enough in the budget to make the hire at that point. He was right, so when I received the disappointing news that they were not hiring for that position at that point, I could not say that Joel had led me on in any way. He was one of the kindest and most honorable men I have ever known.
Paul English
Concord, N.C.
Met at Covenant College and subscriber since 1987

Thankful for his life and ministry. If he wrote it, I read it. If he read it on the podcast, I listened attentively. Thankful for his wisdom and Biblical thoughts on many different topics.
Lorilie Garcia
Hot Springs, Ark.
Just another listener who appreciated his work

I was blessed to know Joel and Carol Esther personally for most of my life, first as a small child in the church where Joel was an elder, then as a young adult as he gently yet persistently encouraged me to attend Covenant College. He and Carol Esther had us in their home many times for meals, for hymn-sing services when our church was too icy to reach, for Christmas cookie making, and for excellent conversation. Even as a small child, I knew that Joel and Carol Esther loved us dearly and welcomed us into their busy, faithful lives. I was honored that they attended our wedding and feel so blessed to have known and been influenced by Joel Belz. Glory to God for His faithfulness to us as Joel and Carol Esther so clearly displayed!
Heather Moreland (Perry)
Swannanoa, N.C.
Former member of Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church in Asheville

Joel Belz was a mentor and friend as well as a profound influence on our belief in the benefits of a Christian education for our children. He will be missed here … but know we’ll be singing together in glory!
Nancy Miller
Durham, N.C.
Worked together for Asheville Christian Academy

Met him when he came to town through Asheville Christian Academy. Thankful for his Christlike leadership there and also at WORLD. He was truly a Christian world leader.
Don Freeland
Biltmore Forest, N.C.
Friend and longtime subscriber to WORLD

While my relationship with Joel was mainly through my parents, Bob and Kathy Case, I have crystal clear, vivid memories of Joel from visits to our family home in Washington state to seeing him occasionally at Covenant College or seeing him at WORLD headquarters when my dad worked with/for Joel. The one thing that was always, always consistent was how friendly Joel was. I knew that he was a busy man, but he never failed to stop and greet and talk with little ole me and made me feel like he had nothing more important to do than see how I was. This never changed through the decades. Despite whatever it was Joel was doing, he dropped it. Joel also gave my husband and me some of our most important marital advice during our reception after our wedding ceremony. I will never forget him and am so glad he is home.
Angie Case Suich
Augusta, Ga.

I found Joel’s columns—and WORLD as a whole—refreshing and stimulating when I first began reading them in the 1990s. They helped me cultivate a more complete Biblical world and life view and stretched my thinking. Joel and WORLD have also been an example of what it could look like for believers to carry out their calling with excellence and wisdom in different areas of society. My respect and connection didn’t fade as the years continued, and I especially appreciated Joel’s last columns. It’s great to see the obvious personal connection he had with many.
Jonathan Hupp
Manhattan, Kan.
Subscriber since the late 1990s

Joel was a brilliant, wise, successful man who was kind, humble, and patient. That’s a rare thing. I owe my career to Joel and his brother Nat. Joel recruited me out of college to come to work for God’s World Publications in Asheville. In the four decades I have known him, he has been my boss, my elder, my mentor, and most importantly my friend. I can’t even begin to describe how much his life has meant to me and my family. Favorite column: My favorite column was always “the next one.” I say that tongue-in-cheek because I think that’s how Joel worked. I would often run into him in the office and tell him I really liked his column and he would sometimes look a little stumped and say something like, “Thanks … uh, remind me what it was.” And that’s because Joel was always moving ahead to the next thing, the next thought, the next project.
Rich Bishop
Asheville, N.C.
WORLD staff member, friend, church member

I simply want to thank him for getting WORLD started. I know not how many years I’ve been subscribing and can’t remember how I “discovered” it. What I do know is that if I were limited to only one periodical, without hesitation, it would be WORLD. His writings and all the writings have been a tremendous help to me, to the ministry to which God has called me, and to those to whom I minister. Near the top of my list of people I want to meet in heaven one glad morning. Favorite columns: Too many to single out one.
Jack Hager
DeKalb, Mo.
Subscriber

Our loss here on earth is heaven’s gain. Joel Belz was a godly man who was a blessing to so many with his clear thinking and wise observations. I offer my sincere condolences and sympathy to his family and the WORLD family. I know you must feel the loss very deeply. Favorite columns: Too many to list! Hard to pick a favorite because they are all very good and even the oldest ones stand the test of time.
Frances Hillsman
Tulsa, Okla.
Subscriber and donor

I would still be doing my work, leading my family, and actively involved in my church whether or not there was a WORLD News Group, but it would be more difficult, more challenging, more daunting without the legacy of Joel Belz. Thank you.
Tim Lowry
Summerville, S.C.
Magazine subscriber

We stopped in at the WORLD offices in North Carolina on a whim while on vacation. Mr. Belz dropped everything and showed us around. He was kind, gracious, and encouraging to everyone he met. Maybe we will get another tour from him at the offices Above someday. We’re very grateful for his persevering work.
Chuck and Andrea Lynde
Kapolei, Hawaii
Grateful WORLD readers and listeners

I cannot adequately express my gratefulness to God for giving me Joel Belz as an example of humility, faith, and reliance on God. Oh, and humor. And encouragement. And hard work. And selflessness. I’m sure I speak for many when I say that I consider myself blessed to have been called by God to participate in Joel’s project at WORLD.
Kevin Martin
Asheville, N.C.
WORLD staff member, 2003–present

My sympathies go out to Joel’s family. But also my thought that his was a life well-lived. Favorite columns: None specifically at this time. However, I’ve been so enjoying the recent replays of past commentaries of Joel’s that have been played in the last months on WORLD Radio. His voice was so prescient and full of wisdom. That said, I’m sure that on this day, he would demur and instead give all glory to Christ, his Savior.
Don Wood
Hershey, Pa.
God’s World, WORLD Magazine/Radio reader/listener

I know of WORLD and Joel because a subscriber kept print issues in the waiting room of his physical therapy practice. When my sessions at his office concluded, I had to have my own subscription. My condolences to his family and co-workers. I feel a special kinship since I was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I pray for the grace to conclude my days as Joel did.
Andrew Eads
Pasco, Wash.

Though Joel is singing and rejoicing with his Lord and Savior, we will feel his loss as we wait for our turn. Favorite columns: I loved his impromptu surveys outside Walmart on a variety of topics and his stories of how he learned the trade and saw God’s hand in WORLD’s tremendous growth.
Susan Bullok
Campbell, Texas
Avid reader

I’m sorry to hear of Joel’s passing, but now knowing these things with the angels makes me smile. I have so many memories of Joel, but one of my favorites is when we moved the office from Innsbruck Mall to Biltmore Village. His old desk, one that he had fond memories of, was falling apart. One of the favorite things that I ever did for him was to have that desk restored thanks to Kevin Martin’s guidance. His look of surprise was priceless. He was truly a wonderful, selfless man and so full of Jesus that Christ showed through him like an LED. I can’t wait to see him again!
Jennifer Twitty
Asheville, N.C.
Former WORLD staff member, 1995–2020

Just want to add my name to the many who admired his work for the Lord and his wonderful writing. Truly he did well.
Robert Hibbard
Bellevue, Wash.

In memory of a great yet humble man whose legacy will live on for decades.
Jay Sinnett
Greenville, S.C.
WORLD Magazine and WJI supporter

The world has lost an anchor in a world that is tossed by angry seas. I never met Joel Belz in person but I felt like he was a father to me. His words have stood the test of time because they are anchored in God’s Word. This is evidenced by the republishing of his columns from years ago. They sound incredibly relevant to today’s culture, and I often found myself double-checking the original date. I am forever grateful that he helped create many more “anchors” to continue his truth-telling work. My condolences to his wife and the whole WORLD team. Thank you for sharing him with all of us readers. Favorite columns: I always enjoyed the stories that he would tell from his youth and how they influenced him later in life. I also marveled that he and his team didn’t shy away from criticism in the “Mailbag.” Instead, both praise and criticism were printed regularly, and this made me understand how incredibly difficult his job really was.
Rozanna Leever
Morgantown, Pa.
Reader and admirer

Joel cared for the least of us as much as he did the greatest of us. He modeled Christlike humility in the way he spoke to us but even more so in how he listened to us. One time, my wife, Makenna, and I visited the Belz house for dinner where we took turns sharing our testimonies. At Makenna’s turn, midway through, Joel stood up to move around and relieve pain. Makenna wrapped up her testimony hurriedly and apologized: “I’m sorry that took super long.” Joel turned around and assured her “Makenna, we were hanging on every single word.” Joel had such a quick wit even in his last days that would turn the heaviest of conversations into tears of laughter. Here’s one example:

Me: “I always find it a good opportunity to witness on airplanes. You get this person for a few hours and they can’t go anywhere. But it always feels so awkward. How do you strike up that conversation?”

Joel: “Sometimes, I like to ask people who influenced their way of thinking. Many say a parent or a teacher.”

Me: “What do you say next?”

Joel: “I jump out of the plane.”

I never left the Belz house discouraged. Joel and Carol offered the best company, conversation, and Christ-exalting songs after dinner, and I’m going to miss that. I know he’s getting to do a lot of that singing now. I’m grateful that it is but a shadow of death that we see now—because that shadow also means entrance to glory. See you soon, Joel.
Caleb Bailey
Fletcher, N.C.
Friend and WORLD staff member

In the late 1970s, our family were members of the same church in Asheville, Trinity Presbyterian. One Sunday evening after worship, Joel shared with us his vision of starting publications known as God’s World for children and then WORLD for adults. It was a joy to see all this develop! I (Jo) also remember singing a duet with Joel one Sunday morning. What a beautiful tenor voice. Our love and prayers to Carol and the family.
Jo and Ken Henry
Gastonia, N.C.
Subscribers for many years

I know Jesus better for knowing Joel and Carol. Their family’s covenant heritage, and now his legacy, are such a testimony to God’s grace, and by that same grace will continue to spread to generations to come.
Wallace Anderson
Brevard, N.C.
Friend

To GLORY on the LORD’s Day. I was privileged to drink tea with Joel’s mother at the time of a presbytery meeting in Cono. I was a subscriber of WORLD from before its beginning.
Jerry Keen
Sioux Center, Iowa

On one of my last trips to Asheville, the Features team visited Joel and Carol Esther at their home. We exchanged news, and Joel insisted on knowing how each one of us was doing and what the Lord was teaching us through our reporting and writing. Then we spent a sweet moment singing hymns together a cappella. I cherish that memory, and I am so grateful to work with an organization that cares first and foremost about my spiritual life, knowing that any good work I can do will flow out of that. That was Joel’s vision and legacy, and may it always remain so.
Jenny Lind Schmitt
Switzerland
WORLD staff member

Our sincere sympathies to the entire Belz family. May God grant you His comfort and peace! We remember the first time we met Joel—a lunch in Naples, Fla. He was a true gentleman: kind, welcoming, gentle, humble, probing, interesting, a man of God. His columns were always a delight to read. He will be profoundly missed. Favorite columns: His editorials, especially the interviews in front of Walmart.
John and Barb Findley
Fort Myers, Fla.

Devoted readers, listeners, and friends in the Lord

My sincere condolences to Joel’s family and friends. I am thankful for his witness, ministry, and wisdom that he so humbly and diligently shared with us. He will be missed. Favorite columns: They are all great, but the Walmart surveys were my favorite.
Susan Peisker
Cedar Park, Texas
WORLD or God’s World News supporter for almost 30 years

So sorry for the family for the loss of Mr. Belz. What a great man of God he was! He educated me since the start of the magazine by reading his articles every month! I never met him but I learned to trust him, and he formed many things from God’s perspective in my beliefs. I will miss him dearly and pray for his family and all the WORLD publications that they will stay true to the Word and the standards he set. They have a legacy to live up to. Favorite columns: No favorite—all of them, I cherished every one of them.
David Proffitt
Knoxville, Tenn.

While I am glad Joel is now with his beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I’m going to miss him terribly. He was the face of WORLD News Group for me. God used him in a mighty way to guide the organization through political, cultural, financial, spiritual, and industry ups and downs. His legacy is that WNG not only survived but is thriving—growing each year to reach new audiences as well as offering existing audiences new platforms and programs through the wise use of technology. I have been an avid supporter, subscriber, reader, listener, and watcher of all things WNG for many years. I’m now mostly a digital partaker of the news and opinions and appreciate the easy access and up-to-date information. Well done, indeed, Joel! Favorite columns: Those reminding us of God’s perspective on politics—campaigns, candidates, issues, and election outcomes.
Kathleen Wilson
Cranston, R.I.
Avid longtime WNG supporter and subscriber

So thankful for this brother—his vision and labors with WORLD, which I’ve followed from the early days! PTL for this man.
Rev. Dr. David Bissett
Clifton Park, N.Y.
Longtime subscriber and joyful reader

Some 20 years ago, I was boarding a plane for a business trip. I was wearing a sweatshirt from our kids’ school, Covenant High School in Tacoma, Wash. Walking down the aisle, a man called out to me and asked me if I knew Rob Rayburn, I replied yes, being rather surprised that anyone would ask me, a stranger if I knew Rob. This man quickly introduced himself as Joel Belz, saying he was also familiar with Covenant High School by his being a friend with Pastor Rayburn, our family’s pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church at the time. Mr. Belz and I spoke quickly as the plane continued to load passengers, and I parted with Mr. Belz asking me to say hello from him to Pastor Rayburn. I remember that meeting like it was yesterday. His reaching out that day connected me to WORLD even more through the coming years ahead. I am thankful he introduced himself to me, it is clear to see he had an expansive reach of friends throughout the world and I am blessed to have made his acquaintance walking down the aisle of that plane.
Ken Rowan
Vashon Island, Wash.
Just another passenger on a flight with Mr. Belz

My condolences to the family. Joel was a great and faithful warrior of God. I heard Joel speak at a prayer breakfast back in the mid-’90s. His words moved me by the way he expressed God’s truth. I soon after began subscribing to WORLD.
Mark Teachout
Washoe Valley, Nev.
Subscriber to WORLD and a great fan of Joel

I am so sorry to hear this. I have been receiving WORLD News since it began. You all mean so much to me.
Amelia Harwood
Lake City, Fla.
Subscriber since the beginning of WORLD Magazine

Praise Be to God for Joel and his life! A man of extreme faith and trust in the Lord and His Word! Each column and article he wrote confirms his faith. May he enjoy all of eternity praising our Lord! Favorite columns: All of them! Not an article or column goes by without his praise for our Lord!
Michael Lehmann
Bloomington, Minn.

Just a humble WORLD member and follower!

Another great man has left us … DO NOT … DO NOT allow his legacy fail. Keep faithful to his cause. Please continue to print some of his articles from the past. Favorite columns: I remember the advice and cautions during the 2016 elections; always a voice of honesty and common sense.
James Schultz
Decatur, Ill.
Longtime subscriber

Well done good and faithful servant. Favorite columns: There are so many to choose from.
Ivan Terrero
Naples, Fla.

Longtime subscriber (1998)