January 27, 2010

What Lies Ahead

“I prayed,” I replied, leaning forward at the table in the conference room of the Russian newspaper where I work.
Not long ago I wouldn’t have been so up-front about my faith at work. But big things have been happening since I started claiming the promise in Proverbs 3:6: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV).*
For me that means openly bowing my head for prayer at business lunches. It means speaking “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Eph. 4:29). And it meant directing credit to God when the founder of my newspaper recently praised our coverage despite steep cutbacks linked to the global economic crisis. After all, I have been offering an extra prayer for guidance every day since the crisis hit Russia in late 2008.
The crisis and its effect on the newspaper interested the German diplomat, who dropped by the newspaper’s office after requesting a “get-to-know-you” meeting. We were joined at the meeting by a second German diplomat and the newspaper’s senior political reporter.
2010 1503 30I told the visitors that the crisis had prompted cutbacks as advertising plummeted. Pressed regarding the outlook for the advertising market, I said no one really knew what might happen next, but the newspaper had posted surprisingly good results for the past month.
“Why is that?” asked the main diplomat, who had worked at the United Nations before being posted to Moscow.
“There is no logical answer,” I said. “The only thing I can say is that I prayed.”
The German paused. “You did what?”
“I prayed,” I said.
The silence in the room was palpable. After a long moment the political reporter offered ?a rambling account about why advertising might be picking up in Russia. When he finished, ?I looked at the diplomats. They looked at me. I prayed.
“I was just speaking to our publisher about this,” I said finally. “She told me that there was no logical explanation for the increase in ad revenue last month.”
The visitors moved on to their next question.
Just a few days before the German diplomats’ visit, the newspaper’s publisher had broken the news to me about the unexpected surge in ads. Revenue for the previous month had been so large that the newspaper, which had been slated to record an annual loss, looked likely to break even and even post a profit.
The publisher—a Russian who had been appointed to the post just before the crisis hit—voiced surprise when I told her that I had an explanation for the jump in ads. I shared that I had been worried about the ads at the start of the previous month—a time of year when ad sales traditionally sink—so I had added them to my daily prayer for extra guidance.
The publisher asked if I really believed that my prayers had made the difference. When I assured her I did, she said she could never pray for ads. “I could pray for my children and my husband. But advertising is my responsibility at work. I couldn’t pray for that,” she said.
But she asked me to keep praying.
I am. I can’t wait to see where God will direct my path next. A Japanese diplomat just called to schedule a “get-to-know-you” meeting for next week. 
*From the New King James Version. Copyright ” 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Andrew McChesney is a journalist in Russia. This article was published January 28, 2010.