Call to Endurance - Elizabeth Mittelstaedt

Growing up in Eastern Europe, educated in strict Communist philosophy, I admired the country's leading Communist writer who influenced the youth and children through his poetry. I dreamed of growing up to be like him and of changing my world through the printed page.

The transfer in my loyalties came when, as a teenager, I encountered a woman missionary who was traveling through the country. Her words impacted me deeply and I offered myself to God if he should ever need another woman to work for him.

Years later, when God took me up on my offer, I did not realize that being chosen by God could mean, as William Barclay put it, "both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow."

Endurance through pain

About 11 years ago, a specialist from the Mayo Clinic in the U.S.A. told me I could go to the ends of the earth and would find no relief from the excruciating pain that was the result of permanent damage inflicted by a dentist. Later, while I was sunk in deep depression by the prospect of a life of unremitting pain, the enemy tempted me to throw away me life. Through that crisis, God opened my eyes to the pain of the women of Europe, and Lydia, the Christian women's magazine, was born.

Today, Lydia is the largest Protestant magazine in Europe. Printed in three languages, its 162,000 copies are read by some one million people. It carries a message of encouragement in Christ to women and has served as a tool enabling women to share their faith with one another.

Endurance through Prayer

Lydia helps inspire women to help other women. In 1993, the media was filled with reports of the 60,000 women held in Bosnian rape camps. Challenged by a journalist to use the magazine to help the women, we grasped our most effective weapon in such a war - prayer! One month after the issue mobilizing prayer for the Bosnian women appeared, we received news the camps had been disbanded. We were amazed to see how God had answered our prayers and those of others. Now, some 2,000 readers regularly pray for special requests.

Enduring Together

In 1993, the first AD 2000 European Women's Conference brought together women from East and West Europe. A year later, some 90 women attended a second conference. Today, the AD 2000 network in Europe comprises 180 women in 32 countries - women who are leaders in their organizations and churches, and in government and society.

Enduring as Women

Many countries in Europe do not permit women to work to their full capacity in the church. We believe that when the church does not encourage women to fully participate in world evangelization it is like a fighter trying to win a battle with one arm tied behind his back.

God has a special place for each person - both men and women. While we seek the crown, we should not despise the cross, but be willing to run the race set before us with endurance.

Elizabeth Mittelstaedt, Germany
Women's Track Regional Coordinator, Europe
Editor, Lydia Magazine