The reports about Andrew Brunson’s release are just another example of how little the media know about evangelical churches.
What are the aims of Evangelical Focus? Solas Magazine asked Joel Forster some questions.
At the European Leadership Forum 2015 conference in Poland, representatives from Solas Magazine met the team responsible for Evangelical Focus. Recognising a shared purpose – to provide high-quality news and commentary from a Christian perspective – a partnership was agreed. Contents produced by Evangelical Focus are appearing on Solas Magazine, and a “blog” section of the print magazine was opened on this website.
Solas Magazine published the following interview with Joel Forster in its Fall 2015 edition.
Solas Magazine: Although the website is in English, Evangelical Focus is based in Spain. Tell us about how it started.
Joel Forster: Three of us were ‘sent’ by the Spanish website Protestante Digital to start a new project for Europe. Protestante Digital has a big network of more than 50 writers who produce about 200 articles every week. It started as a project by and for Spanish evangelical Christians, but has become an international project with 73 per cent of readers coming from Latin America and the United States. Seeing this model, evangelical leaders in other countries were asking the Spanish Evangelical Alliance: ‘Why don’t you start something similar for Europe?’ So we started Evangelical Focus, with the aim to give a voice to evangelicals across Europe who can provide a biblical worldview on important issues happening in their communities. Writers from Italy, France, Belgium, the UK, Ukraine, and Switzerland have already joined us.
SM: You are getting contributions from across Europe. What challenges are you facing with translation and cultural differences?
JF: We have a group of people who are doing an excellent job translating from Spanish, French, Italian and German into English, so far. And we hope to find more people translating from their own languages: Romanian, Polish, Swedish, Czech, Russian, etc. Regarding cultural differences, we find them very enriching. We hope to show how a clear biblical faith can have many cultural expressions that are good news to people in very different societies.
SM: Why do you believe there is a need for an online Christian news outlet?
JF: As Tony Watkins (Lausanne Media Network) pointed out in a recent interview, Christians are not very good at reacting to secular media in a constructive way. We really need to listen more, interact more with politicians, with artists, with social trends. And we need to have projects like Solas magazine and Evangelical Focus that are able to communicate what Christians have to offer - our ideas, our desire to build a better society, our expertise on certain topics and our gospel values - in ways that are inspiring for fellow Christians and understandable for non-Christians. We do it online because we know of the impact these articles can have on people all around the world, and because it helps us to report on a daily basis about the latest happenings.
SM: What is most exciting part of the development of Evangelical Focus?
JF: There are more than 30 people who have written articles for Evangelical Focus so far and they are only a small part of the many people who have a real heart for the mission in Europe. We have been able to interview dozens of people on topics like freedom of speech, the Mediterranean crisis, LGBT issues, religious liberty inside the European Union, environmental care, sex slavery in Europe, creative evangelism, Islam, the arts, etc. All of this has helped us to understand what the gospel has to say on important issues. It is really exciting to be a platform for this type of content.
SM: Do you think Evangelical Focus is making a difference?
JF: We get emails from people in the Philippines, or from Colombia, saying they read our news. We have had a politician working in Brussels contact us to publish her article on our site. There are people in Eastern Europe asking if they can translate our articles, and people from Central Europe telling us they enjoy the ‘southern’ taste of our approach to news, which is different from Christian media produced in the UK or the US. There are non-Christian organisations following us on Twitter. And some articles have gone viral with more than 5000 likes.
We hope that God uses this platform so it can become a place where Christians with a heart for Europe can communicate ideas in fresh ways that connect with the place, the time and the societies in which God has placed us. We are just one more piece in God’s big mission.