I’m excited to be doing this DHD. If you have been reading Doyle’s Half Dozen for any length of time, you should know that I am a big fan of Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra. She is senior writer and faith-and-work editor for The Gospel Coalition and is in a league of her own. The reason I say this is there aren’t many (if any) national writers who presents stories like she does.
Sarah hones in on a personality or a ministry or a movement that is advancing the Gospel, and her writing style is quite inspiring. I don’t know a current Christian journalist who reports on modern Christianity like Sarah.
Though I’m excited, I’m also challenged to come up with only six favorite stories that Sarah has written. I regrettably have to leave some out. In fact, I’ve spent the last hour or so going back and forth about four different stories. Four! Not two, four stories. This week could be Doyle’s Decuple (a group of 10—I looked it up).
With that said, here are six journalistic pieces written in excellence by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra. Click on each title to link to the article.
I start with the first article I ever read from Sarah’s supply of great articles. Thom Rainer had announced his retirement as president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and this article gave so much information not only about Rainer but about the purpose of LifeWay. I’m sure many Southern Baptists do not fully know all there is to know about LifeWay and its history.
Obviously the article is dated, but for sheer appreciation for how well Sarah writes, you should read it. You can enjoy it and be informed at the same time!
This is the second article of Sarah’s I’ve read, and I enjoyed it even more since I’m a sports nut. I remember Frank Reich as a quarterback coming off the bench to lead the Buffalo Bills to an amazing comeback win in the playoffs.
Sarah does more than a “Where are they now” approach with Reich. She describes how unique and fascinating it was for Reich to become a seminary president while also being a student. It’s a great story and one even non-sports people can appreciate.
This is another unique and inspiring story about a Christian business man who invests in his employees and customers in a fascinating work model. Prepare yourself when you read this article. It’s also a tear-jerker.
Church splits are unfortunately too common, but Sarah found an inspirational story how two churches in the St. Louis, Mo., area reunited. There’s some great details in how this happens. It’s a fun, encouraging read.
I don’t think I was ever more excited to read an article than this one about Oral Roberts University Basketball Coach Paul Mills. I loved watching ORU during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and Sarah’s article is so much better than another article featured by USA Today that caught more attention, saying schools like ORU don’t belong in the NCAA Tournament. The writer of that article was let go for an unrelated reason.
“Head coach Paul Mills tweets Spurgeon quotes,” Sarah wrote, “has a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, and says that hearing the Bible misused—especially in sports, where winning is often connected to God’s blessings—makes him ‘go bonkers.’”
You can appreciate how Coach Mills is making a Gospel impact on his players after reading this article.
I saved the best for last. I love this article so much, I remember telling a bunch of people at church and work about it soon after I read it.
Montreat College was about to close its doors for good. The small Christian college in North Carolina did not have much going in its favor, which is similar to what many private colleges face financially. Because of its meager size and lack of visibility, Montreat was in a really tough spot.
But then, through an unexpected financial gift and the opportunity to take advantage of a new, up-and-coming education program, Montreat College started growing and making incredible strides.
Let me know if this story inspires you as much as it did me. I left a lot out for you to discover on your own.
There are many, many more I could have mentioned. There’s one on Benjamin Watson being a unique pro-life leader and another exploring John Piper’s neighborhood after the George Floyd tragedy. Her most recent is a great story about a young man making a difference for the Gospel by ministering at the southern border.
Let me know what you think, and tell me if you have another article that Sarah has written that belongs on the list.