If you had to identify one highlight that runs through your experience at Crossroads, what would it be?
A definite highlight for me was serving under the leadership of the founder, Rev. David Mainse. He challenged us to listen to the Holy Spirit in ourselves and our teammates, and he led by activating that posture of listening for God. “Jesus said, ‘My sheep know my voice’….” was one of his constant leadership challenges to me.
Would you say the Holy Spirit guided your decision to retire?
Yes. I had been hearing the whisper of the Holy Spirit to start realigning my life for our health needs for well over a year, so this retirement came in two phases; first from the corporate leadership in February, and then from the broadcast work in April. It was sad to close things down from years of working with great colleagues in the isolation that was COVID-19, but in the quiet, I heard how important the work of Crossroads was. When I stepped into the CEO role, there was much renewal ready to occur with the great staff at this now 58-year-old ministry, and it will always be the greatest career highlight of my life to be called to serve in this media mission.
Speaking of COVID-19, how has the current narrative of this pandemic story impacted you?
I feel the pandemic helped me realize in a new way why these years of Christian media work have been such a gift, all possible because of donors also doing their calling to this work. The pandemic has also strengthened my own convictions on Christian media. It became clear to me watching mainstream media during COVID-19 that Christianity was not being heard or seen. For example, on CBC, I watched a COVID-19 victim tell his recovery story in sound bites while he had a Bible on his lap – never once did we get to hear why there was a Bible on his lap. So our producer chased that interview down, it was with 42-year-old Rene Segura who was intubated during a 20-day battle with COVID-19, and wow, did that young dad rely on God for his fight. Christian media at Crossroads gets that voice.
What are some of the social issues you’ve seen come out of COVID-19 that are building a bridge to Christ?
One of those COVID-19 episodes for Context Beyond the Headlines was on the crisis in Long-Term Care homes in Ontario and Quebec. A leading advisor to governments made an appeal on Context for “anyone with two hands and a brain” to register to help with the long-term care crisis. We tempered the shock in that show by chaplaincy. My own mom is in British Columbia’s largest seniors’ facility, 700 beds, and her chaplain became our bridge to Christ in an interview that explained the deep longing for God that comes as physical conditions weaken.
In other COVID-19 episodes, you featured “Christ-activated action.” What does that mean?
It means looking for where the love of Jesus would go. For example, we heard from the overburdened abuse shelter system; over 500 women and children are turned away daily from shelters in Canada for lack of room and COVID-19 made that rate higher. I could go on with the social issues COVID-19 uncovered, but Christ-activated action is what Christian media must do.
Looking back, who have been your most memorable interview guests, and why?
Over the many years of all the interviews I was privileged to do, without a doubt, those who faced the fear of death for their faith remain my most memorable. When an interview guest had lived out a Bible verse in exceptional circumstances, actual miraculous ability, I would have them autograph that verse in my Bible. I am amazed at how important Scripture is for the sustenance of life, and over the course of hundreds of interviews where I would probe, “why did you know God was with you…” there was most often evidence linking back to Scripture familiar to that person. One of my last projects before leaving the CEO role was to start 2020 as Year of the Bible at Crossroads. That was very deliberate, as so much of the journalistic work I was privileged to do featured people knowing and acting on the truths of the Bible.
From bite-size videos to full on-air broadcasts, how much teamwork goes into Crossroads’ productions?
It amazes me how complex the backroom work for Christian media is. The real heroes I worked with all these years are those fantastic staff producing and marketing the stories, and the very technical, regulated, highly administrative work for accuracy and accountability.
How vital is volunteerism in making an effective reach of God’s love in media?
Whether in monetary donations or time, volunteerism is at the core of it. We have over 100 people volunteering on the prayer lines, and others in administrative tasks, and then the volunteer leadership that the Board of Directors brings is huge. I recall our Board Chair, Stevan Novoselac, telling me, “When you step onto the Board, you sign a blank cheque for your time and just give it to God.” It is that kind of sacrifice that makes it possible for producers, reporters, technology and accounting staff to be paid, and support their families. The complexity of leading those teams kept me on my knees for leadership learning.
I know my next chapter will be wellness in our home, understanding how to adapt our lives for our best life physically and spiritually. I want to be involved in caring for the Parkinson’s community too. Over 100,000 Canadians live with Parkinson’s Disease, and much learning, care and struggle have formed around this condition. So many families have to juggle full-time jobs and disability, we are glad we can retreat from work and focus on our care with less stress. I think I came to understand much too late how we need to do more to support families with disease and disability in our workplaces, these families are everywhere, facing great efforts to adapt to their physical needs. Vern and I are finding there are deep gifts our soul receives in the stage we are in, and we do have a feeling of peace and contentment in this chapter of giving and receiving love.
Thank you to so many of you who have asked how Vern is doing, he would say he is good. He likes to tell me, “I may have Parkinson’s but Parkinson’s doesn’t have me.” Vern is actively fighting this, and deeply appreciates my companionship in navigating the changes to his health. We are trying to exercise a few hours a day, to walk and cycle, exercise is so important. And for the first time in our 40 years of marriage, we are reading through the Bible in a year, together, instead of solo.