“You know what happens to your articles the day after they’re read, don’t you,” quipped a veteran Washington journalist to me a few years back. “They end up lining bird cages!” He let out a husky chuckle and shook his head. His point? The pen may be mightier than the sword on occasion, but generally our words are like trickles into creeks that flow into rivers that flow into oceans where they settle comfortably into obscurity with all the other fragments of text ever spoken, written, sung or spun.

I ran into a friend not long after the sacrifice editorial was written, and she told me she and her husband were so inspired by the faithfulness of missionaries of the past that they had decided to take the call to serve at PAU.

Christmas is upon us, the new year is creeping our way, new calendars are replacing old, life is taking a pause before the beginning of another year. But before getting swept into mirth and optimism, I can’t help taking the sum of 2013. And what, if anything, the words flowing into the ocean via these editorials have shaped on the way downstream.  

I should begin with a confession. In “Too Fat for Church” I promised to get fit. But if you run into me, you still won’t confuse my keg for a six-pack! I have lost roughly the weight of two newborn babies. So it’s a start. But in the same time, my colleague Jarrod Stackelroth has put my paltry efforts to shame by losing something in the range of 25 kilos (that’s roughly six newborn babies, if you’re counting). He says the “fat” editorial gave him a little extra impetus. I wonder if anyone else was inspired to get moving in the right direction and is feeling a bit lighter today as a result? I certainly hope so. And I give you this commitment: I am not finished with getting a little fitter and a little less fat every day.

Over the year I’ve written a couple of pieces that have caused widespread controversy and consternation. There was the vaccination piece. For all the heat, I hope there are some children who are today vaccinated, who might otherwise have not been. Why? Because without any shadow of a doubt, vaccinations save lives. If you’re still confused, google “measles outbreak” and read what happened in Queensland and Wales this year.

I also wrote a piece that gave voice to a third path on homosexuality—a path that rejects destructive permissiveness on one hand, and equally rejects silence and ostracism on the other; a way forward that fully embraces unfashionable ideas like faithfulness, denial of self and obedience to God’s law. But at the same time a love that has the strength and honesty to talk about the full range of sexual impulses. Predictably, my inbox filled up with letters. But there was a second reaction; the increasing prominence of faithful women and men like Virna Santos and Daniel Laredo, speaking candidly and powerfully about their spiritual journeys. I am inspired by their courage.

When writing about the sacrifice of Adventist missionaries, I promised we would build a memorial to their memory. Assistant editor Linden Chuang has done just that. I hope you’ll take a minute to visit the memorial and consider their ultimate sacrifice in God’s cause: <>. Let us know if there are names missing, facts that need updating or if you have an article or tribute you would like included.

Unexpectedly, I ran into a friend not long after the sacrifice editorial was written, and she told me she and her husband were so inspired by the faithfulness of missionaries of the past that they had decided to take the call to serve at Pacific Adventist University. That was not the reaction I expected: it was far, far better. I hope and pray they are a rich blessing to PAU and that, in return, they are richly blessed by their experience of giving to others so unselfishly.

You’re right: we still have as many conferences as we started the year with, asylum seekers are still being shamefully mistreated by governments in our region and we are still flying in speakers from overseas by the plane load. But I hope that maybe, just maybe, as a result of the voices in RECORD this year, we are a community more prepared to take the hard steps necessary to protect our children, we are more courageous in defending women against brutal abuse and preventing abuse in the first place, and that we are just a little more inspired into an active faith by stories of ordinary people just like us, who are doing remarkable things for God. If so, this stream of words has not been in vain; they can now rest at the bottom of your budgie’s cage, satisfied in a job well done.

James Standish is editor of RECORD.