Sharon Mumper’s missionary zeal, combined with her journalism degree and significant experience in writing, editing and publishing, led her to pursue a unique mission. While some groups build churches, schools or hospitals, her ministry helps Christian magazines in other countries.

She launched Magazine Training International, or MTI, in Eastern Europe in 1989, helping a formerly underground publication for Christian women called Lydia. Formerly prohibited during Communist rule, the magazine took advantage of new press freedoms to connect with more readers.

More than 2,500 people from dozens of countries have received in-person training at on-site conferences in 21 countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Online courses and videos have expanded MTI’s reach even farther.

“I’ve seen lives changed through magazines,” Mumper says. “Whether the magazines are general interest or are directed to women or youth, they can reach people and have real impact.”

Mumper says God led her to move the ministry to the Springs in 2007. The move has also brought practical benefits.

Springs-based Christian organizations have created dozens of print- and web-based magazines to communicate with their supports and/or staff. Some of the areas’ top publishing professionals have traveled around the world with Mumper to help communicators in developing nations increase the reach and impact of their work.

MTI rallies around Christians in under-resourced countries who may lack funding or experience but are passionate about publishing. It provides training, tools and connections to industry veterans.

Last November, MTI took its “Introduction to Magazine Publishing” course to the African nation of Ghana, where 30 students learned from six trainers, three from Kenya and three from the U.S. Among the students was Kate Azumah of Ghana’s AfriGO magazine.

“I have learnt so much — practical and actionable things I can implement easily, and a lot of inspiration for new projects,” she said. “I have been challenged to work hard and with more intentionality so that I can excel in my publishing ministry for God’s glory.”

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While many of America’s religious magazines enjoy solid financial support and supportive policies from the U.S. Postal Service, things aren’t so easy elsewhere. In some countries, Christian publishers have been persecuted and prosecuted.

Jeni and Gusti Rosian of Romania first tried to publish a Christian publication in the 1980s, but press restrictions enforced under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu made the work dangerous. Even access to typewriters was restricted. After the country’s dreaded secret police questioned Jeni about her work, fear led her to throw her beloved typewriter into a local river.

A military tribunal found Ceausescu guilty of genocide and other crimes and executed him in 1989. The next year, the Rosians launched their Children’s Friend magazine. Early on, the magazine reached only about 100 people an issue.

After Jeni attended an MTI training, her simple magazine became a four-color monthly reaching thousands of readers. She later became an MTI trainer, helping other periodicals in Ukraine and Croatia.

Mumper has devoted more than three decades to serving as president and chief fundraiser for MTI, which has an annual budget of under $200,000. Now she’s looking to the future.

MTI is assessing its programs and resources with an eye to a possible restructuring, or even collaborations or a partnership with other ministries committed to the same mission.

Also on the agenda: a succession plan.

“I’m 77 now, and I would like to be semiretired by the time I’m 80,” she said.

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