THE STORY OF how Charisma began ought to inspire anyone who has a dream but faces insurmountable odds. That's because 30 years ago when the first issue of Charisma came off the press-on August 5, 1975--there was no way in the natural the magazine could have become what it is today. The tremendous growth we have experienced and the expansion to other outreaches that extend around the world both are due to God's grace.
As a 24-year-old newspaper reporter, I knew God had called me to publish a magazine for His glory that He would use in ways I couldn't imagine. Back then I wasn't qualified for the task.
But as the years went by I came to understand that when you give God whatever talent you have, He will use it and cause it to grow. This is the principle in the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30.
You remember the story: The master gave talents to three servants to manage while he went on a journey. To the first he gave five talents, to the second two talents and to the third only one talent.
In Jesus' day a “talent” was a measure of money that was worth 20 years' wages for a common laborer. Today, however, we think of talents as abilities.
Whatever talents I had were minimal. Just out of college and newly married, I could write newspaper articles (that was my job), but I knew nothing about publishing or business.
However, my wife and I were involved at Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Florida, as volunteers. At different times we served in the choir, the children's ministry and the youth ministry. So when I approached the elders with the idea of publishing a church magazine with a budget of $15,000 a year, they approved it.
For more than a year I edited and published Charisma part-time before quitting my newspaper job to focus solely on the magazine. It began to grow not only in Orlando but also around the country as people at “Jesus festivals” took it and subscribed.
Soon Jamie Buckingham was writing a monthly column and Charles and Frances Hunter were promoting the magazine in their meetings across the nation. I was seeing my dream unfold before my eyes.
What was happening was that I was using the talents God had given me, and by His grace, they were growing.
When the master in the parable saw that the first servant had doubled five talents to 10 and that the second servant had doubled two to four, he said the same to each: “'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'” (Matt. 25:21, TNIV).
The principle here is that if you use your talents, they'll grow-and God will be pleased.
We continue to see this principle at work. Today Charisma has a circulation of 250,000, and we now publish seven other magazines: The newest, The Church Bookstore, debuts this summer. This fall our book publishing division will begin offering a new line of powerful children's books called CharismaKids and a line of fiction books about the supernatural under the imprint Realms.
Our international outreach is growing, too, primarily through our Spanish publishing efforts. And the Lord is opening many doors into the secular arena. Charisma is for sale in more than 150 chains nationwide this summer, and we are selling more books in the secular marketplace as well. Recently we arranged with Penguin Group (USA) Inc. both to co-publish some books and to distribute the books they publish that are appropriate for the Christian market.
Perhaps the most exciting development as we pass this 30th anniversary milestone is that my dream has helped birth another-that of my son Cameron, whose vision to reach his generation is exploding through his own company, Relevant Media Group.
God's Word says that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20, NKJV). He will bring your dream to fruition if you use what He has given you.
What does the future hold? Only God knows. But I intend to remain faithful to what He has called me to do. When my days on Earth are over, I want the Lord to say to me: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your Master's happiness!”
STEPHEN STRANG is the founder and publisher of Charisma.