A Journey in Mission Publishing

By Wendy Marshall, Managing Editor of Japan Harvest

My route into publishing is a little unusual. A few years after I first arrived in Japan as a missionary I wrestled with God because I wasn’t able to meet the expectations I had of what a missionary should do. 

God led me to learn about writing and publishing, and within three years he provided an opportunity to be part of a small magazine publishing team. Two years later I became the managing editor of that magazine, Japan Harvest, an English-language publication by and for missionaries serving with Japanese published by the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association.

Growing professionally

I didn’t have any formal training in publishing or writing, so to learn I attended short online courses, read books about writing and editing, and attended conferences and multi-day training events. 

But the hardest growth times were on the job. 

When I started work with Japan Harvest, I was very new to editing and a woman in my thirties. Many of the articles at the time were written by experienced missionaries mostly by men who were older than me. (I suspect many had never had the kind of feedback from an editor that I started to give and sparks did fly.)  

I’m not very comfortable with conflictand yet was committed to a quality magazine, so I pushed onwards.  

I learned more diplomacy as I went alongwhen to compromise and when to fight for the good of our readers. Editing is a delicate art that takes time to learn.

Providing opportunities for others

Investing in my teams is a significant part of my role as editor and team leader. I’ve provided opportunities for others to grow as writers, editors, fact checkers, and designers. I’ve also organised and taught at writing workshops and retreats, and recently facilitated a “chat about writing” at an OMF conference 

Writers frequently feel lonely and when we get together to talk about writing it thrills our souls.

An answer to prayer

Back in 2010 when I was very new to publishing, I attended an OMF writing workshop in Hong Kong. There, I realised that my heart’s desire was not to write a book, but to tell the stories of ordinary people who happen to be missionaries.  

Someone prayed at that time that God would bring people across my path whose stories I could tell. God has been answering that prayer ever since. 

Today, I spend most of my time working on missionaries’ stories as an editor. I’ve also served with OMF Japan to publish newsletters, prayer calendars, and the prayer booklets 31 Days of Prayer and Beneath the Surface in Japan, a cross-agency publication. A big part of my role in the last six years has been using my skills in social media for mobilisation. 

Through all this, I’ve helped get hundreds of stories out to thousands of people. I’m so thankful that God has led me to serve Him in this unique way.

5 t
ips for getting into publishing ministry

1. Read and write a lot 
If you’re interested in publishing as a ministry, read a lot. Read for pleasure, but also read about writing, editing, and publishing. If writing is your passion, write some small articles and look for avenues to get them published. 

2. Look at the opportunities where you are
Seek out opportunities to write or edit things in the place where you are. For example, perhaps your church notices or a local volunteer group’s newsletter needs someone to help write and edit.

3. Keep learning 
Find short courses that help you improve your skills. There are some free or low-cost ones out there, as well as free webinars and podcasts specifically for Christian publishers and writers.

4. Be selfmotivated 
Creativity is essential to access training events if you are living in a non-English-speaking country. In-person training events require the ability to travel, but there are many online events and resources also available to help you grow as a writer and editor.

5. Pray and seek others out
Get involved in online editing and writing groups. You might know someone trying to promote their small business, ministry, or book volunteer your help. OMF has a Christian content creators community. Pray for opportunities to use your gifts.  

Picture of Written by Wendy Marshall
Written by Wendy Marshall

Wendy Marshall is the managing editor of a quarterly magazine by and for missionaries, and leads a team that uses social media to spread the word around the world that Japanese people need to hear about Jesus.

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