The Blessings of Trying to Help
Seventh in a series: Read part six
Among my fondest memories of my early freelancing days is the time I tried to help our pastor get published. He had seen an issue of a military-oriented magazine and wondered about submitting an article.
“Well, don’t spend a lot of time working on it,” I said. “Let me send a note to the editor and ask for their writers guidelines and see if they’re open to submissions.” Along with my cover letter, I enclosed several clippings of stories I had written, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to facilitate a reply.
A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from the editor of that magazine. It turned out that the issue our pastor had seen was a prototype—a test run to see whether there was enough interest to publish it on a regular basis. The answer was “no.”
However, he still was editing the missions-oriented magazine that had published the prototype.
A Regular Gig
“I’m always looking for dependable freelancers who can turn around stories on a regular basis,” he said. “Would you be interested in doing some work for us?”
Naturally, I said “yes.”
Back then, ongoing assignments were few and far between, so this was a godsend. A magazine that was part of a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) agency, they were also interested in stories on well-known athletes or coaches.
When then-Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden flew to West Virginia to speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ conference, the editor didn’t care that I planned to write a story on Bowden for FCA.
“Just send me a different angle,” he said.
When I flew to Dallas to write about several who were speaking to an athletic-oriented outreach, he also agreed to use a story on one of them.
Plus, he wanted a story about a member of the SBC who lived in the area; he had accepted Christ after being seriously injured in a construction accident. So, the editor agreed to pick up part of my plane fare and car rental costs.
Opening More Doors
There was more. This contact soon opened a second door at the same organization, writing for a missions publication aimed at teens.
Young guys are interested in athletes and singers. When the editor of the teen magazine learned I had once ghostwritten singer Ricky Skaggs’ testimony, he asked if I could get an interview. I did, and later met Skaggs in person when he spoke in Louisville.
I wound up writing for those two magazines for six years, until they ceased publication amid a convention-wide reorganization.
However, both editors went to work for another SBC agency in Atlanta. An agency I wound up writing for on the same topic: missions. On my first trip there for a writers conference they hosted, I met both of those editors in person for the first time, previously only knowing them via long-distance telephone.
Thanks to annual trips to Atlanta, I got to know them better and worked closely with both. This contact continued for a decade, until one got downsized and I lost touch with the other when my assignments ceased.
As I recall these many memories 30-plus years after the fact, I have to remember they all started because I tried to help our pastor. When God opens a door, you never know where it will lead.