Mindy Belz, Senior Editor at World Magazine, international journalist, and author of They Say We Are Infidels visited Covenant College Nov. 17-18. She spoke in chapel and at a Q&A led by Professor Sarah Huffines.
The Office of Alumni Engagement, Center for Calling and Career, and the English Department hosted the Q&A with Belz in the Kirk, during which she shared about the process of researching and writing her book. Her journey of telling the stories of Christians in the Middle East began shortly after 9/11 when she first rode across the Tigris River into Iraq.
Belz says that at the time she could not understand the language of the Middle East, and from the outside it seemed to be a place always at war. It was the last place she planned to report from, but because of global events found herself immersed in and reporting about this complex region. “History was unspooling underneath my feet, and I was starting to understand it,” Belz said.
The culture of the Middle East is far different from American culture, but Belz says she did not fully appreciate this until working there. Because women are often excluded from all-male meetings, Belz learned to visit with women in the kitchen and at dinner. Here, she found a new perspective on political situations that only the local women could provide. However, when she is allowed to meet with the men, a respected man of the community must enter the room and introduce her. Only after a proper introduction is she included.
Mindy Belz reports the facts. Through her immersive research on topics of interest to America at large, she is respected by both Christian and secular audiences. She travels to the Middle East and despite moments of stress, feels protected by the friends and Christians she has come to know in the Middle East.
Sophomore Grace DeGraaf asked Belz whether it was difficult to leave the Middle East. In reply Belz said, "Yes, it is, but it is part of the job, and I've accepted that. There's always part of me that looks forward to getting back on the plane with my Starbucks. It's comfortable."
Speaking in chapel, Belz argued that has been easy for Americans to distance themselves from the wars that rage abroad and from the suffering that Christians around the world face. But that distance does nothing to prevent the persecution of the church. Our brothers and sisters need our support, but we need them too. Hand in hand, she said, we are stronger.
Even though Mindy Belz is actively involved in the pursuit of peace for our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters, she sees many American Christians ignoring the cries of our persecuted family. Our brothers and sisters in Christ face danger everyday, yet they continue to be witnesses to the Gospel and to build Christian community. To conclude her chapel talk on Nov. 18, she called us to join her and pray for, reach out to help, and learn from the persecuted church in the Middle East.