Joel Belz – The value of a good storyteller


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, June 3rd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD founder Joel Belz now on good storytelling and one of our own.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: When I heard that Sarah Schweinsberg was telling “quite a story,” I was all ears. Sarah Schweinsberg is not just an extraordinary storyteller. She is also a voice you hear frequently here on The World and Everything in It.

Sarah is the product of a Christian home, a Christian elementary school and high school, and a Christian college. She’s got a solid grounding in Biblical worldview thinking. And she’s a 2015 graduate of our own World Journalism Institute, where she honed her skills as a reporter and writer.

Sarah’s story that caught my attention was a spinoff of the coronavirus crisis. You may have heard it a couple of weeks ago on our podcast. 

While mainstream media tended to focus on shortages in the nation’s food supply, Sarah featured a hog farmer in Ohio and a dairy farmer in Pennsylvania who had so much pork and milk they didn’t know what to do with it. Both of them were encouraged to destroy truckloads of perfectly good foodstuffs. Both of them thought that was poor stewardship. Both of them asked the Lord for wisdom.

Sarah’s journalistic savvy helped her recognize the rich presence of a whole lineup of elements that readers value. Readers like stories about animals. They like stories with outlandish numbers. They like stories about people who are problem solvers and creative thinkers. They like stories that go against the trend. They like stories about people who pray, and get answers to their prayers. This story had them all.

Sarah did the hard, diligent work of a reporter, pulling all these strands together. She ended up with a thoughtful, significant, and fascinating story I haven’t heard anywhere else. I won’t retell the story here; you can hear it on our website at worldandeverything.org. You’ll see why I call Sarah a gifted storyteller. And you’ll understand why I think Sarah has a great future as a reporter.

As WORLD’s founder some 34 years ago, I am especially grateful that through those years God has been calling and equipping young men and women like Sarah Schweinsberg to do the work of truth-based, God-centered journal­ism in a frighteningly secular culture. The stories they tell are true stories, producing a mega-story that brings great glory to God. 

This doesn’t happen by accident, but by the conscious and focused effort of many people—through many years. So I’m thankful for Sarah’s parents and family, for her early teachers, for the faculty at Northwestern College, and for World Journalism Institute. 

Theirs has been a unique contribution to the Christian world in these bewildering times. And that’s quite a story all by itself.

I’m Joel Belz.


(Photo/iStock)

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