中文 / English
Subscribe By subscribing to the Christian Monitor mailing list, you will receive periodic editorials and newsletters written by our staff and urgent prayer requests.

If you wish to subscribe, please click this link to automatically create an email request; or send an email to 'STServ@list.christianmonitor.org' with message 'subscribe newsletter'.
Home
Devotionals
Prayers
Newsletters
Headlines
Editorials
Book Reviews
Interviews
Press Releases
The CM Story
Our Beliefs
Our Staff
Help Us
Contact Us
CCEA
Chosun Journal
Martin Roth
Christians in Crisis
More Links
INTERVIEW
Christian Monitor – Interview with Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife
Dutch-born foreign correspondent Stefan J. Bos (37) has covered wars and revolutions in many countries, including Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, with his reports appearing in media outlets around the world. He was awarded the annual Press Award of Merit from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his foreign policy coverage.

He has a particular heart for oppressed Christians, and in 2004 he and his wife established BosNewsLife, which is Central Europe’s first online Christian news agency, and which maintains a special focus on the persecution of Christians, Jews and others in the former Communist countries of Europe.
In this interview with Christian Monitor, Stefan talks about his work and his faith.
* You work as a foreign correspondent. Is that a full-time role?

It is a full time - and often day and night - job. Perhaps I love the news too much….

* How did you get started?

I have been active in journalism more or less from the time I could walk. I was born near the typewriter of my father, another busy journalist and ghost writer. At an early age I began my own newspaper and opinion magazine in Amsterdam, where I was born. I also briefly tried to run my own local radio station, but the Dutch police did not appreciate this. I still recall the day when policemen entered my bedroom to take away my home-made FM transmitter. I was a very disappointed teenager, but soon got a chance to learn more about journalism in the studios of Radio Amsterdam. In addition I worked for other publications such as the Dutch General News Agency (ANP).

During that time, I started to become interested in Eastern Europe. I knew my parents had helped persecuted Christians there and I wanted to see for myself the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Admittedly, I also wanted to see my Hungarian girlfriend! So just before my 18th birthday I decided to travel to Hungary and cover Billy Graham's evangelistic campaign there, for ANP and other media. It was during that time that I decided to become a foreign correspondent.

* What are some of the exciting stories you’ve covered?

Initially, besides traveling to Hungary, I also covered crisis areas elsewhere. For instance, I was three months on the mission ship Doulos in India. However I will never forget a trip I made to war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1980's when I met Christians keeping their faith between daily bomb attacks. I also reported on a priest running a home for orphans who were either deaf or mentally suffering because of the ongoing bloodshed. There I started to experience the need to trust the Lord's protection. One day, for some reason, I canceled an appointment with someone at a particular location. It was the same time and area where a huge bomb explosion would occur killing many people.

I had similar experiences later during my coverage of all the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Many of my friends and colleagues died there. With some I had dinner one day, and the next day they were murdered. The Lord Jesus was really always with me. The wars were exciting but I saw that whatever we did as reporters, all ethnic parties that took part in the conflict seemed full of hatred. Somehow the revolutions against Communism that marked the neighboring nations seemed all but forgotten. While, for instance, in the case of Romania, they were bloody, at least you saw the hope in the eyes of people that somehow the dawn of a new era had arrived.

* Can you provide any inspirational stories of the Lord at work?

There are many examples. However I will mention one. It happened at the beginning of the war in Bosnia Herzegovina. I already had been saved by the Lord during a brief kidnapping by Serbian forces in Croatia. Now God had something else in mind. While I was traveling from Sarajevo to Serbia with a television team, we were stopped and surrounded by Serb villagers. They got very angry and even started to beat one of us. At that moment, something fell out of my back. It was the simple version of the Bible, known as The Book. When I looked I read "love your enemy as yourself." I started to smile and somehow the atmosphere began to change. Here is a book of many hundreds of pages, and it opens exactly on a page where the first sentence I read is: "love your enemy..." And...oh yes...the armed men and angry villagers let us go...we arrived safe in Belgrade...

* Many people dream of becoming a foreign correspondent. What is your advice for them?

Think twice. It can put a lot of strain on your family and personal life. It's hard work and often very difficult, especially when working in trouble spots.

* Have you found conflict in being both a strong Christian and a foreign correspondent? For example, have you been asked to interview people you’d prefer not to interview, or have editors complained that you were placing a “Christian slant” on some stories?

It can be challenging, especially when you also work for non-Christian media as I do. I have been covering stories ranging from drugs and prostitution to war as well as hard political and investigative stories. I have never really said “no” to any story. However, I recall one time when I prayed that my editors would “forget it”. It was a request that I do a story on a trade union of witches in Hungary. I do not see occult activities as funny, and did not want to promote the devil with this kind of news. At the same time, I have to admit that I covered things like a Dracula park in Romania, which I think is crazy as well.

In general however I do not believe Christians should live as if they are already in the Kingdom, or another planet. We may be from the Kingdom, but, for now at least, “guests” on this earth. That can perhaps be a big help in journalism as we can look as “outsiders,” more independent to issues. Yet I do not believe in “Christian journalism”. To me, it's the same as “Christian cooking”. I think our best witness is when we do any job as well as we can, as if we do it for the Lord Himself. There are perhaps “Christian” journalists who believe that, say, when there are very few people attending an evangelistic meeting, we should not write about that fact. "Let's be positive," they would say. I disagree.

* You have written about and visited Iraq. It seems a mess to many outside observers, but do you see the Lord’s hand at work there?

I think that the Lord is at work in Iraq, just as he is in the tsunami areas of South-East Asia. I recall a meeting I had with one pastor from an evangelistic church in Baghdad. People said that he was crazy not to flee to Jordan. But his answer was that this is the best time to be in Iraq. He said the daily bomb attacks only underscored the need for people to have Jesus in their lives. I have seen packed churches in Iraq. Christians there would argue that peace without the Prince of Peace is nothing. They would rather die from violence in the knowledge they will live forever with Jesus Christ. That is a message that was very impressive to me.

* Many Christians despair when they read about what is happening in Iraq, the Sudan, the former Yugoslavia and other similar trouble spots. What is your advice for them? How can they make a practical contribution?

I think there is no reason to despair, although I have sometimes been confused about the way the Lord works. What is happening now is what we can read in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. I personally believe that we live in the last days. It may be a few more years before the Lord comes back, or He may arrive tomorrow. I think the best thing we can do is pray and encourage people and Christians in trouble spots to trust in God. I have seen that even more than receiving food and medicine, people want to be encouraged, listened to and prayed for. I think God has a plan for every one of us, and we just have to ask Him for His guidance.

* You have started a new news agency, BosNewsLife. Please tell us all about it.

I and my wife Agnes, an ethnic Hungarian who was born in Ukraine and later fled Communism and came to Hungary, wanted to do something more than the hard news we cover for world media, such as the Voice of America, Deutsche Welle or the BBC. That's why we decided to set up Eastern Europe's first Christian news agency on the internet. BosNewsLife covers stories focused on Christians and Jews living in difficult circumstances for whatever reason, including persecution, as well as other hard-hitting news from around the world.

We want it to be a news vehicle for "compassionate professionals," including those traveling to or working in difficult areas, such as business people, aid and missionary workers, journalists and others “on assignment for a better world." They may be Christians, but they can also be people searching for answers in their lives and wanting to make the world a better place, perhaps not yet realizing that this will happen after Christ returns.

Because it was a big investment and has a lot of extra features we charge $1.95 a month, or less when people take it for a year. But if it's difficult for people for whatever reason to pay this, we can give a free trial subscription.

* Stefan, thank you very much, and we wish you all the best with BosNewsLife.

-Martin Roth (31-Jan-2005)