The air was thin, the wind was freezing, and my body was exhausted. We had been trudging up the side of Mount Kilimanjaro’s peak in the dark for almost five hours. Trying to remember to put one foot ahead of the other, I kept my headlamp trained on the feet of the guide ahead of me.
Suddenly I noticed the sky begin to brighten. Within minutes I could see the stark outline of the mountain ahead of us. Finally, the sun peeked over the horizon, bathing the tops of distant clouds with morning light.
It was a moment I’ll never forget. Tears came to my eyes as I took in the truly stunning vista in front of me.
As we continued to work our way to the summit, my mind began to wander. I thought back over the past six years and the many incredible adventures I’ve had the privilege of experiencing. Out of nowhere I found myself weeping.
Yeah, ok. The altitude was a factor. I admit emotions were on a hair trigger at 19,000 feet. But I was overwhelmed at how far God had taken World Next Door since its humble beginnings in 2009.
Well, long story short, we made it to the summit and back down again. The summer internship came to a close and we all came back to the US in one piece.
Now that we’re home, it’s time to look to the days ahead. The next few months will be full of changes and transitions for this ministry. I can’t go into all the details quite yet, but I do want to update you on what will be happening in the immediate future.
Back to the Blog
One of the most overt changes will be our transition away from the mobile app of World Next Door Magazine and back to this blog as our primary source of new stories. We’re going to be releasing the Haiti issue of WND Magazine, followed by the Kenya issue (featuring the work of our summer interns), but that will be the final one.
The app will remain live and all past issues will still be available for download, but all new content will show up here on the blog moving forward.
The reason for this transition is simple: we had much more user engagement on the blog. As phenomenally awesome as WND Magazine is (Seriously – we think it’s the best!), we have struggled over the past year and a half to increase our readership. The magazine looks incredible, but the people we’re trying to reach simply aren’t reading it.
With the continued rise of social media and smartphones, we’ve discovered, people are looking for shorter, more consistent stories and articles to read and share with friends. Our target audience just doesn’t seem to be the curl-up-on-the-couch-with-an-iPad-and-read-for-two-hours kind of people.
And that’s ok! We’re super proud of the work we’ve done over the last year and a half, and the magazine has helped many people get engaged with God’s kingdom around the world. It’s just time to re-focus our energies.
Unfortunately, with a transition away from the mobile app, we will also need to say goodbye to our dear friend Tara Bender as a full-time staff member. As much as we wish we could keep her on board, the graphic design needs of WND will be significantly reduced moving forward, so Tara is looking for another job.
Tara did a ridiculously awesome job with the magazine. Her creative perspective, sense of humor, and dedication to excellence in everything she did made many people think we were a far larger organization than we were. Whoever gets her next will be insanely lucky.
We will miss you, Tara! Thanks for setting the bar so high.
Writing a Book
One other big change on the horizon is a book I will be writing. After close to six years of wild travel adventures, kingdom revelations, and deep friendships, it’s time for me to collect the story of World Next Door into a cohesive whole.
I can’t give too many details on this yet, since we are just now working out the plan. But I can tell you the book will be like our blog and magazine: a mix of funny, uplifting, hope-filled, and thought-provoking stories designed to give suburban American Christ-followers a new perspective on the world.
My plan is to dive into work on this soon and have the finished product sometime in the spring. I’m excited to see what shape it will take!
Like I said above, there are several other major changes coming down the pike for World Next Door that aren’t quite ready to be announced. We’re entering into a rather unique season for our ministry, so please stay tuned. After we launch the Kenya issue I’ll be giving a more detailed update about what you can expect from WND in the days ahead.
Thanks for being such faithful supporters of our ministry. We couldn’t do it without you!
About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.