August 3, 2021

Chapters With God

Ministry is sometimes found in unexpected places.

Olivia Hale

Dust hung in the morning light that danced across shelves stacked high with books. I peeked at the cover of one book and, not seeing what I wanted, continued digging deeper into the stack. Something familiar caught my eye, but the title was almost worn off. I gingerly opened the vintage cover, and the hidden gem was revealed: The Great Controversy, printed in 1888. I couldn’t wait to call my customer back and tell them the good news. 

The Nurse Becomes a Publisher

When God moved me away from a career in medical industry and into the book industry, I had conflicting emotions. I knew I was following His leading, and I knew there was ministry in books, but I felt it wasn’t as tangible as walking into a hospital room and getting a sick patient out of bed. Others I met who had similarly been called into new ministries understood and supported the transition, but it was those who questioned my move that sparked in me a desire to truly understand the importance of the publishing and writing ministry. 

I used to think we had to choose one career path and work our way to the top.

Working for TEACH Services was an immediate blessing and the perfect place to gain an appreciation for the reach of the written word. My main responsibility was as the director of LNF (lost and found) used books, but when I began taking on other roles, I was inspired by what I saw. In a world in which money is the focus for many, it was refreshing to start working for a place focused on responsible publishing.

It became clear to me what a precious responsibility we have as publishers, writers, and booksellers to present only materials that glorify God. I found myself on the phone or e-mailing with people from all around the world who were excited to pursue their writing ministry, or excited to find an out-of-print book with an important message they feared had been lost forever. I was exhilarated when I filled up my first box of books for the mission field, knowing many would use them to learn about their Creator while also learning English. 

When I started writing and helping design for projects, I became even more aware that my work isn’t just a job or a paycheck—it’s an honor and a meaningful responsibility in the service of our King. When we call ourselves Christians, we are representatives of Christ, and what we put into digital or physical print may have a lasting impact of which we know nothing. I think of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus made it clear that those talents were to be multiplied faithfully in the service of the Master.

Our Real Calling

I used to think that we had to choose one career path and work our way to the top, or that we all needed college degrees. I’ve learned from joining the book publishing ministry that God just wants us to follow Him wherever He leads, even if that means multiple career changes or no career at all. Whether writers or publishers, doctors or physical therapists, truck drivers or mechanics, teachers or volunteers, we are to do whatever He gives us to do with all our might (see Eccl. 9:10).

When I followed God’s leading away from the health field to TEACH Services, I felt certain I wouldn’t be reaching as many souls. Yet God showed me instead that when we go where He wants us to go in ministry (even when it doesn’t make sense from a human perspective), we may well reach more people and be used in more ways than we could ever imagine. No matter where God places us, remember, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:6).

This story was first printed in the ASI magazine, Summer 2020.

When Olivia Hale is not writing and editing for TEACH Services in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, she is traveling, adventuring outdoors, or playing her ukulele.