My first experience teaching with MTI was in Romania in 1995, five years after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu. I remember the joy the trainers and MTI staff all felt on seeing so many Christians in publishing from diverse backgrounds and theologies coming together for the very first time and slowly getting to know one another—and by the end of the week forming solid relationships.
During the communist period, tensions formed between different factions of the church, particularly the sanctioned state church and the underground believers. MTI played a small part in providing an opportunity for healing interaction to happen. That was a significant side result of these conferences. Sharon did a masterful job of facilitating the atmosphere for this to take place.
There are more opportunities now for writers, editors, designers, and marketers to gain training from various sources. But training specifically for magazines is still difficult to come by. And, magazine publishing training from a Christian perspective that addresses the unique issues of a faith-based publication is invaluable. This is why these conferences are so well attended and appreciated.
For me, in terms of serving others, I have experienced nothing more gratifying. In fact, I’ve been known to blubber a little at the closing ceremonies of MTI’s conferences. That can be a little embarrassing for me, but it’s an indication of how deeply I have been affected by the experience and the people I’ve come to know. I especially appreciate my wife, Kathy, who has always been so unselfish about seeing me leave for a couple weeks at a time. I received a rich experience, but she ended up with more responsibilities and an emptier house those days. Hmm, maybe it wasn’t so bad for her after all.
MTI has witnessed countless magazines develop professionally in writing, editing, design, marketing, and business—all toward more effective ministry. In turn, the audiences they serve (which number in the hundreds of thousands over the years) have benefited spiritually in ways which we will never know. In addition, the new relationships formed through these conferences have helped bring more unity to the global church, since the people in publishing have powerful influence in their own spheres.
I can’t think of another ministry that is more effective and influential than MTI in its use of limited resources and its ability to attract highly skilled trainers to serve and a diverse group of publishing staff to attend these conferences. The fact that many travel from considerable distances speaks to the value they receive. Sharon and her staff serve with skill, efficiency, effectiveness, and Christ-honoring service.
By Gary Gnidovic
Gary Gnidovic has served as art director for a variety of magazines, including Christianity Today. He has taught in 11 Magazine Training International conferences in eight countries and has taught in MTI’s online training program.