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Women World Leaders' Podcast

Mar 18, 2024

It’s easy to get discouraged by all the darkness we see closing in on us. There are so many things wrong in this world, but the darker the night, the brighter the light. Today, host Julie Harwick gives many examples of believers shining brightly in the midst of darkness and reminds us that we have been called to do the same.



Welcome to Women World Leaders podcast. I’m your host, Julie Harwick. Thank you for joining me today as we celebrate God’s grace in our lives, in this ministry and around the world.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the annual National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s been going on for 80 years, but this was my first experience attending. It was fascinating, exhausting, sometimes disheartening, but also inspiring and encouraging – kind of a microcosm of life on this planet.

I was there to represent Barnabas Aid, a ministry to the Suffering Church. Very, very few people approached our little booth to learn more about the Persecuted Church. Most who did approach, were eager to promote their own ministries which wasn’t a bad thing, because they were also willing to hear about mine. But in order to effectively represent Barnabas Aid, I had to  try to make eye contact with someone passing slowly enough to ask, “How familiar are you with the Persecuted Church?”  Some pretended not to hear me or mumbled, “I’m good.” But fortunately many were willing to listen and consider getting involved. There were people from all over the world there and it was interesting to note that nearly every foreigner I encountered was well-acquainted with the Persecuted Church. Americans were far more likely to know little to nothing, but that’s probably because suffering for your faith is not a normal part of being a believer in this country. I was most encouraged by meeting people from Morocco, India and Pakistan who had actually worked with our organization in those countries. Hearing their stories made the work of Barnabas Aid more real to me and allowed me to put faces with the people we serve.

The disheartening part came from some of the booths I encountered where televangelists were selling supplements guaranteed to give you energy and good health and others just seemed to be all about glitz and glamour. There may be nothing wrong with these ministries. It was just hard not to notice the contrast between them and less flashy ministries whose sole focus was bringing the gospel to people who hadn’t heard or fighting for the lives of unborn babies.

Overall, it was very encouraging to see the massive convention center filled with people who are devoting their lives to God-honoring businesses or ministries. Every form of media was represented: radio, television, film, podcasts, video games, books and social media. All appeared to be committed to using every method possible to grow the Kingdom of God.

I was especially encouraged to see that the booths next to me and across from me were both engaged with reaching Muslims for Christ and supporting Muslim Background Believers who live under restrictive and even dangerous conditions. Islam is the world’s second largest religion and it’s estimated that there are nearly 2 billion Muslims worldwide. One organization, Cresent Project, has a vision to equip 100,000 believers, many of them from a Muslim background to reach 120 counties where Muslims have never heard the gospel. At Lighthouse Arab World, I talked with Johnny, a Lebanese man who was born into a Christian family but has a great love for Muslims all over the Arab world. He told me about the crushing inflation that his native country is suffering and how his ministry is helping to alleviate that suffering while pointing people to Jesus. He also told me a fascinating first-hand account he had heard about a Christian missionary who attempted to evangelize a remote tribe in Tunisia. These devoted Muslims were mostly hostile toward him and wanted nothing to do with the gospel he was so eager to share. One night the chief of the tribe had a dream in which Jesus appeared to him and told him to seek out the missionary who would tell him all he needed to know. When he awoke the next morning he still felt compelled to seek out the missionary, but his conviction grew when all the other members of his tribe reported having had the exact same dream! This experience couldn’t be explained away and couldn’t possibly be a coincidence, so the entire tribe gathered outside the missionary’s home as Jesus had instructed them to in their dreams. When the missionary looked out his window and saw the entire tribe assembled there, he was certain their animosity had grown to the point where they had determined to kill him. He summoned his courage and went outside to face whatever awaited him. His fear turned to incredible joy as they begged him to tell them about Jesus. I frequently hear stories like this about Muslims who have never heard the gospel having dreams where they see Christ and are told where they can go to learn about Him. It reminds me of the passage in John, chapter one where we are told that Jesus, also known as the Word, was the life and the life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. He is the true light, that gives light to everyone.

Light and darkness became a common theme while I was at the convention. So many people from countries around the world told me about the darkness and suffering that seems to reign in their home countries. But I was surrounded by so many, including many Americans, who were devoting their lives to bringing the light of Christ into that darkness. There was an awards dinner on the last night where many Christian broadcasters were honored for their work, some having served for 50 years or more. They had started radio stations or television shows in the early 1970’s that had reached people who might’ve never heard the gospel otherwise. They had faithfully sacrificed and served with vision and determination to use all kinds of media for God’s glory and to bring light into the darkness. It was inspiring to hear their stories and hard not to feel like I’ve accomplished very little in comparison to these spiritual giants. 

The final speaker, Jack Graham, opened with words that tied it all together for me. “Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.” It’s not a bible verse and he wasn’t sure who had originally coined the phrase, but he remembered his mother saying it and believed that it was loaded with Godly wisdom.

We all see so much darkness around us. Crime is growing at a rate we have never seen before, our country hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War, we have a fentanyl crisis, human trafficking, corruption, pandemics, poverty, broken homes and mental illness is rampant. Every news broadcast and article you read confirms that this world is in serious trouble because it’s under the dominion of the Price of Darkness himself. But as we read in John 1, the darkness could not overcome the light.

It’s interesting to note that when you try to darken a room because you want to sleep, even the faintest light coming through a crack under the door or through a window from the moon is enough to make the room seem not very dark at all. Once your eyes adjust to the light, you can see most everything. It’s another example of how much more powerful light is than darkness. Just as the Light of the World is far more powerful than the Prince of Darkness. In John 8:12, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The Apostle Paul experienced this in an unbelievable way when he was struck with blindness on his way to persecute the followers of Christ. He was kept in total darkness until the man appointed by God to pray for him restored his sight. And it wasn’t just his ocular vision that was restored, the light that had blinded him had also opened his eyes to the truth that he had been unable to see previously. He finally understood that he had also been spiritually blind. And the Light of the World, that is, Jesus, was also the way, the truth and the life. In Acts 26:18 Paul recalled the commission that God gave to him. “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.”

Even though most of us have never had a “road to Damascus” experience like Paul, we have been given that same calling. In 1 Peter 2 :9 we’re told how God views us and exactly what He has created us to do. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

It is a wonderful, and as some translations call it, a marvelous light. If the Light of the World resides in us, the darkness cannot overcome us and instead we can shine the light into the darkest places. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He explained how He wanted us to live as bearers of the light that only He can give. The Message paraphrase puts it best and it’s a perfect way to close. Matthew 5: 14 & 15 says, “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine!”

Thanks for listening to Women World Leaders podcast! Join us each week as we explore together God’s extravagant love and your courageous purpose. Visit our website at to submit a prayer request, register for an upcoming event, and support the ministry. From His heart to yours, we are Women World Leaders . All content is copyrighted by Women World Leaders and cannot be used without written consent.