In 1992, Joanna Ilboudo noticed something was missing in her home country of Burkina Faso. “There were no Christian magazines or newspapers,” she said. “I felt there was a gap to be filled and I prayed about starting a magazine.” It would not be easy though.
“I didn’t have a penny to pay anything,” said Joanna. Not only did she lack money, she did not have a computer. So she took her hand-written articles on notebook paper and a few sketches of the design for her proposed publication to a printing shop. She hoped the manager would be sympathetic to the calling she felt. “I want to do a magazine, but I don’t have any money,” she told him. “But what I’m asking you is to trust me and then I will sell the copies and pay you back.” The manager trusted her and he typeset and printed the first edition of Contact magazine.
Joanna set out on her motorbike to the churches in her city of Ouagadougou. There were no cell phones, so all of her contacts were made in person. She followed up with each church and collected the money. The money she collected was enough to go back to the printer and print the second issue, but only because the manager did not end up charging her what he should have. “He was a real blessing and the person who really helped me fulfill my God-given vision,” she said. “For me it was just God who put this in my heart. I did not want to let it go.”
Publishing the magazine proved challenging though and Joanna had to rely on her faith in God’s calling. “You have to know why you are doing it, be courageous, and depend on the Lord,” she said. “Otherwise, you can easily give up.” Soon, other people she knew began writing articles for the publication and she was able to begin training even more potential writers. Her vision to get more people involved in Christian publishing ministry in Burkina Faso began producing fruit.
By the next year, however, Joanna realized she would need another source of income to cover her family expenses. She joined a radio broadcasting ministry but continued publishing Contact magazine as she was able until 2009 when the last print issue of Contact was produced. Her passion for writing and Christian literature was not deterred. “The gap I saw was not just producing magazines, but also getting more Christians interested in Christian writing. I had it in the back of my mind that doing something online could solve the problem of distribution.”
In 2018, Joanna was invited to attend MTI’s training conference in Kenya. There she discovered that other Christians were publishing online magazines and she was inspired to explore the possibility of taking Contact magazine off the shelf and publishing it online.
Three years later, in August 2021, Contact magazine debuted online and is reaching French-speaking Christians around the world. Joanna continues to promote Christian writers and literature throughout Francophone Africa. She recently published a new book, Le Mentorat des Jeunes Leaders Chrétiens? (Mentoring Young Christian Leaders). Nine contributors from Chad, Senegal, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso contributed to the project.