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Lessons learned abroad

Leaving WORLD more convinced of God’s goodness

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Twelve years ago as a college senior, I nervously interviewed for a WORLD Magazine reporter job. Nick Eicher asked me where I saw myself in five years. “I want to be a foreign correspondent,” I said, aware of publications downsizing and bureaus closing. I’ll never forget Nick’s answer: “There’s an opportunity for that here at WORLD.”

Almost exactly five years later, I found myself on a plane headed to Taiwan as WORLD’s first foreign ­correspondent, marveling at God’s faithfulness. Yet I also feared failure and felt overwhelmed by the task ahead.

This month marks my seventh anniversary living in Taipei, Taiwan. I now see God’s faithfulness in every step: I met trusted sources who became friends. I studied Chinese. On reporting trips across Asia, I witnessed God’s work firsthand. My faith grew as God answered desperate pleas in dangerous situations, led me to the people He wanted me to meet, and revealed that true hope in this weary world can only be found in Him.

Most unexpectedly at my Taipei church, I met a cute, God-loving man from central Illinois who would become my husband, then the father to our rambunctious 1-year-old son, Miles. I knew I loved my then-boyfriend Kevin when I left for a reporting trip and found in my suitcase notes he had written for each day I’d be gone and how he was praying for me. I owe all these blessings to God, of course, but in part I also owe them to WORLD.

My faith grew as God answered desperate pleas in dangerous situations.

That’s also why it’s so difficult and sad to note that this issue marks my last at WORLD. I’ll be stepping down as managing editor and stepping into the unknown. Yet if the past seven years have taught me anything, it’s that God will be faithful even when I am fearful.

Readers can discern my reasons for leaving from columns published in previous issues by Sophia Lee, Mindy Belz, and Marvin Olasky. But I want to leave you with three lessons I’ve learned reporting abroad.

1. We know so little.

When I first moved to Taiwan, a relative asked me how I, a foreigner, could expect to understand the local context well enough to report on it. His comment pricked my pride and made me defensive. But today I see wisdom in his words. My early articles could only scrape the surface of any given topic. Seven years of reporting later, I can better discern what’s newsworthy and provide deeper analysis. But even more, I see how little I know.

At a time when everyone claims expertise in a myriad of topics, it’s important—and freeing—to remember that we don’t know much, we usually can’t see the full picture, and we’re more limited than we want to admit. So let’s stop, listen, and learn.

2. Let go of control.

When planning reporting trips, I feel the most secure when my schedule is filled with interviews and events. I like to know who I’ll meet with and where I need to go. Yet some of my best material has come from spontaneous, unguarded moments: conversations with a source’s family over a home-cooked meal, last-minute invites to a prayer meeting, ambling interviews that run over time.

Making space for this in my reporting—and my life—means loosening my grip. Yet it allows me to trust God and give Him glory for how it comes together.

3. The Church is global.

Reporting in Asia always brings a transcendent moment when I sit in a worship service—sometimes in a hallowed historic church or a crowded apartment living room. I look around and see brothers and sisters filled with the Spirit worshipping the same God and reading the same Word. I imagine how as the globe spins, Christians around the world wake up for their turn to worship.

It’s an image of the great multitude we will worship with one day as we stand before the King of kings. When tempted to get caught up in divisions of American evangelicalism, remember to zoom out and see how God continues to call people from every tongue and tribe to Him. One day we will cry together, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Amen.

Angela Lu Fulton

Angela is a former editor and senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.



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