Growing in Faith and Craft
How a rejection letter from Christianity Today led me on the journey of becoming a professional Christian journalist.
During a 2011 trip to Africa, journalism student Catherine Newhouse developed a story for Christianity Today magazine on how Pentecostal renewal is transforming Rwanda. This past year the article won top honors for student journalism from both the Evangelical Press Association and the Religion Newswriters Association. Newhouse has written numerous articles for the ministry of Christianity Today, and she spent a number of weeks during her high school years interning for CT's teen magazine. She is currently completing her senior year at the University of Missouri. In the following article, Newhouse explains how this ministry has impacted both her writing and her faith in Christ.
During my freshman year of high school, I read what has to be the nicest rejection letter I've ever received for one of my stories. Chris Lutes, who'd later oversee my student internship at Christianity Today, didn't send me the typical form letter, but rather took the time to critique my story in detail, explaining why it didn't fit CT's Ignite Your Faith magazine and encouraging me to continue submitting my work. "I am always excited to read the writing of talented young writers," he wrote, "and would consider it a joy to help you out" in any way he could.
It was this rejection letter that ironically led me on the journey of becoming a professional freelance Christian journalist, who would later report for Christianity Today from my college town and from the capital of Rwanda. And even more significantly, this initial contact with Christianity Today would lead me on the journey to discover what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I started reading the teen-oriented Ignite Your Faith, which has since gone from a print magazine to web-only, around my freshman year of high school. At the time, I prayed regularly, but had never read the Bible and felt like I was spiritually suffocating in my church. The magazine encouraged me to read the Word of God for myself and helped me see the gospel in a new light. Through the ministry of Christianity Today, I discovered that salvation comes by God's grace alone and there was nothing I could do to earn it.
As I submitted articles and article ideas to Ignite Your Faith and later Christianity Today, my editors constantly challenged and encouraged me. They were not only willing to take a risk on a young writer, but committed to helping me grow. I was invited to intern with Ignite Your Faith when I was still in high school, and from there took on my own book review column.
When I first arrived at the Christianity Today offices for my internship, I was blown away by the editors' kindness. I remember very vividly a time when they prayed for me before an editorial meeting. It was a simple gesture, but no one had ever offered to pray for me like that, and I was deeply moved. They unfailingly believed in my potential and started giving me various writing assignments, which eventually led me to write for Christianity Today magazine during college.
So many at Christianity Today have helped bring out the best in my writing and reporting through their insightful critiques and encouragement. Katelyn Beaty helped me shift the focus of my profile on a Christian activist to fit the This Is Our City project. Tim Morgan trusted me to report a Christianity Today story all the way from Rwanda, and he has since offered advice and prayers for my writing career.
I will be forever grateful for my mentors and dear friends at the ministry of Christianity Today. Along with helping me develop my journalistic skills, they have shown me—through their words and their lives—what it means to be a true follower of Christ.