Times of crisis require innovation, and Christian publishers in less-resourced countries are up to the challenge. Despite the hardships posed by lockdowns and scarcity of resources, Christian publishers are staying relevant and active during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Magazine Training International (MTI) is dedicated to helping Christian leaders navigate the perils of publishing during the pandemic in order to meet the needs of their readers and support their staff. As MTI finds ways to fulfill its mission, magazine publishers around the globe are reporting on what they are doing to grow and serve their readership.
The new ministry outreach experiments for print and digital publications are varied. For Francis Ayieko, publisher of The Shepherd newspaper in Kenya, the pandemic was the push his publication needed to reach a digital audience.
“It became clear that the only way we could continue serving our readers in the midst of the pandemic was to go online,” said Ayieko. By the end of the first month of digital publishing, traffic to their website had increased by 1,700 percent.
“The disruption and damage the pandemic has caused around the world is regrettable,” said Ayieko. “But we thank God for keeping us safe and using the hardships brought about by the virus to open our eyes to see opportunities we had neglected. We plan to continue publishing online even after we resume hard copy production.”
For Gökhan Talas of Miras Publishing Ministries in Turkey, the desperate need to provide hope was the driving force behind innovation. They recorded audio articles, TV programming, and webinars specifically about hope, showing God’s goodness in the crisis.
“People need hope, and we cannot stop serving them,” said Talas. “Our ministry gives people knowledge and understanding, but also hope and vision. We decided to make some changes to our methods and improve some of our ministries.”
His community’s need for renewed faith in the midst of trial inspired Emmanuel Manishimwe of Hope Community Action Africa in Uganda to create a personal blog. The blog will shift focus to that of Hope Community when the lockdown has been lifted.
“We know that if we follow this model from now on, we won’t be as broadly affected by the kind of short-term turbulence we’ve faced since March,” said Manishimwe.
In Nigeria, a two-day “Thriving in Uncertainty” online conference addressed the situations Africans face during the pandemic. Organized by Lara Odebiyi of Dabira Publishing, the conference drew attendees not only from the Dabira magazine readership and network, but from all over the world.
“After such an inspiring and life changing two-day conference in a digital space, the question arises, is this the new normal for Dabira magazine and our annual women’s conference? No one knows!” said Odebiyi.
As many around the globe are in various stages of lockdown and reopening, MTI continues to provide opportunities for professional development to Christians in publishing—and to be inspired by the innovative ways they are reaching their readers.
By Jennifer Howard, communications director