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Peggy Wehmeyer to young adults: Carry the faith into the culture

DALLAS (BP)–One of the nation’s top television journalists encouraged young adults to consider whether God might be calling them to careers of high influence in secular culture — a mission field that can be just as important as Africa or the inner city.

“If what God has told us over and over again is true, that we were created to reflect His glory, then putting my gifts to use in a dark world so that people can see what God is like is the ultimate in self-fulfillment,” said Peggy Wehmeyer, who spent seven years as a religion reporter for ABC News and 13 years in local television.

She spoke on her own calling out of the safety of Christian ministry into the high-stakes world of television news during the Jan. 22-24 Elevate 2004 at Prestonwood Baptist Church in suburban Dallas, the first of two North American Mission Board-sponsored conferences to help young adults integrate their faith and career. A second Elevate conference is scheduled Feb. 19-21 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center.

“I believe that when we exercise our God-given gifts and live out of our passion, people around us get a glimpse of God in their midst,” Wehmeyer said. “We’ve been chosen and gifted to make God recognizable. That’s a powerful thing. And I really think that’s what glorifying God is all about.”

Wehmeyer told how she had overcome a difficult childhood and finally met Christ as a college sophomore in Texas. With a passion for serving God, she began working in a Christian ministry. “I thought that was more spiritual. I thought I could accomplish more for God,” she said.

But it wasn’t long before the true call of God on her life became too strong to ignore — despite warnings from Christian leaders that it meant risking both her chances for finding a Christian husband and even the possibility that she might lose her faith.

“Journalism was what I loved, and the secular media was not only desperately in need of ideological diversity — which I could certainly supply — but it was and is perhaps the most influential shaper of American culture,” she said. “Isn’t that where Christians were supposed to be? … The sense of calling to the news media had become so strong and the doors so wide open for me that I was willing to take the risk.”

The warnings proved accurate, as she entered a culture where immorality went unquestioned, leaving her feeling alone in her faith in Christ.

“There were many times I felt beaten down and would never make a difference in this place, but I was reminded over and over again God’s promise that it would never be easy,” she said.

Wehmeyer said she still struggles with the relative absence of Christians in places of influences.

“How come there are not more thinking Christians in the broadcast networks, teaching in Ivy League schools, making films in Hollywood or sitting on the benches of our nation’s highest court?” she asked. “If evangelicals really make up 40 percent of the population — which is what the polls say — how come there is such a small percentage of those in the places I just mentioned?”

Despite the obstacles, she exhorted her audience: “Do not ignore wise counsel from Christian mentors or leaders, but you must trust your own deepest conviction. And don’t let anyone else overwhelm the quiet pull of God on your life.

“You’re the one who will be coming home every day to your choices. And be as sure as you can that God is the one who is calling you, not your ego.”
For more information on the Elevate conference planned for Charlotte, visit www.elevate2004.com. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SEEING SOCIETY’S NEED.

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  • James Dotson