By BosNewsLife News Center
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)-- Central and Eastern Europe's first international Christian news agency observes its 10th anniversary with mixed feelings, a founder says.
"We realize that as long as Christians are persecuted for their faith and antisemitism increases around the world, issues we cover most, there is nothing to celebrate," explained Stefan J. Bos, a Dutch journalist who is also the agency's chief international correspondent. "At least 100 million Christians are believed to suffer because of their faith, but I think that's a low estimate."
Yet Bos said he is pleased the Budapest-based news agency found its place within the worldwide stream of news provided by British, American, French or German news services as well as information from Christian and other rights groups.
"I believe we helped to develop a new way of reporting about developments within the Christian community for a broader public," he said.
"From the beginning we decided to focus on both internationally oriented Christians and non-Christian compassionate professionals searching for news on those persecuted for their faith," Bos explained. "Our style reflects that."
However he said the news agency now wants to offer more answers to 'why' questions. "The coming years we hope to intensify coverage on explaining why people are ready to even give up their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ, who they view as their Lord and Saviour. He has apparently something to offer that people are willing to die for in prisons around the world."
He said coverage will include reports on persecution as well as on Christian missionaries giving up more comfortable lives to work in difficult circumstances "as they believe their real treasure is in Heaven."
More recently, BosNewsLife also began to publish Bible stories in a news style, using Twitter and its own website "such as the Good News about Christ's Resurrection on Easter," Bos added.
He said BosNewsLife's coverage had contributed to both the release of Christians in countries such as Vietnam and Iran and helped to spark debate about combating antisemitism, including in Central and Eastern Europe.
"Here in Hungary, for instance, the far-right Jobbik party remains an influential group."
Bos and his wife Agnes R. Bos launched BosNewsLife in May, 2004, when Hungary and 10 mainly ex-Communist countries joined the European Union.
"I was happy that we could do it together. Born in Rahov, a mountainous town in Western Ukraine, she began writing at an early age, including poetry and art critics amid difficulties with Communist authorities who persecuted her grandfather in a labor camp in Siberia."
As she searched for more freedom to do her journalistic and creative work, Agnes R. Bos said she "felt compelled to start a new life in neighboring Hungary" where she arrived in autumn 1989 the year that Communism collapsed there.
"We wanted to launch BosNewsLife and its website BosNewsLife.com, and later also BosNewsLife.org, on the day former Soviet satellite states rejoined Europe after decades of Communism to inform people living here and around the world about the spiritual and political challenges ahead," Stefan J. Bos stressed.
Soon after, several writers and correspondents joined the agency, including in challenging nations such asa India, Pakistan and Nigeria. "We thank all of them for their efforts. They include people whose names we couldn't always publish for security reasons. But we, and what is more the Lord, knows them."
Bos said he had also been inspired by the "life-changing-story" of his friend and fellow believer Dan Wooding, a British journalist who once worked for the tabloid press and later founded ASSIST News Service (ANS). "I worked there several years before launching BosNewsLife which has a slightly different focus. It was also important to have an international news agency based in Hungary, a strategic country in Central and Eastern Europe. And to also offer an alternative voice from here."
BosNewsLife had to overcome personal tragedies. "In October 2012 Eric Leijenaar, BosNewsLife's larger-than-life Senior Special Correspondent and editor-in-chief of the Netherlands main evangelical newspaper Uitdaging (Challenge Monthly) died," recalled Bos.
"I wrote at the time that he leaves behind many mourners and a legacy of revealing Christian stories that impacted millions around the world." Netherlands-based Leijenaar, 59, passed away in his Dutch hometown of Zeewolde after suffering a heart attack.
"Leijenaar had an almost prophetic awareness of the rapid changes impacting Christians in for instance the Middle East. "His story in 2007 'Christians Crucified In Iraq, Dutch MP Says' received millions of hits within roughly 24-hours and was picked up by media worldwide," Bos recalled. "However am sure he is now carrying out another heavenly assignment," added Bos, a believer.
BosNewsLife still faced many other challenges, Bos acknowledged. "We survived several attacks on our site, which we have linked to authorities and others upset about our coverage. We are very thankful to people like George Whitten, who leads Worthy News ministries with whom we have a close relationship. He is a giant and really helped us to stay online when we were attacked by East European hackers for instance. I believe without him, we would not have made it."
Bos said it taught him to trust the Lord always. "He promises us in Exodus 14:14: "The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." Clearly, the Lord also uses people to fulfill his plan and to win the battle, Bos said.
BosNewsife's Bos admitted that the news agency still needs support. "We launched this project first of all to carry out an assignment, not to make a huge profit. That's why everyone can still read our stories on the Website. But to be able to expand, we really need more supporters."
He said any donation or a subscription helps to ensure BosNewsLife's future.
Alternatively organizations can also become link partners, who already include groups such as 'Christian gifts from Jerusalem', 'Religious Freedom Coalition', Christmas for Refugees, Worthy News and Chinese Christians.
(BosNewsLife (2004-2014) is the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians. It has been 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since May 2004).
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