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When I heard that Sarah Schweinsberg was telling “quite a story,” I was all ears. Sarah Schweinsberg is not just an extraordinary storyteller. She is also a voice you’ll hear frequently on The World and Everything in It, our daily news podcast that’s available around the world.
Sarah is the product of a Christian home, a Christian elementary school and high school, and Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa—all of which filled her with a solid grounding in Biblical worldview thinking. And she’s a 2015 graduate of our own World Journalism Institute, where she honed her skills as a practicing reporter and writer.
The story that caught my attention was a spinoff of the coronavirus crisis, and is one you may have heard on our podcast. While mainstream media tended to focus on shortages in the nation’s food supply, Sarah featured a hog farmer in Ohio and a dairy farmer in Pennsylvania who had so much pork and milk they didn’t know what to do with it.
Sarah’s journalistic savvy helped her recognize the rich presence of a whole lineup of elements that readers value. Readers like stories about animals. They like stories with outlandish numbers. They like stories about people who are problem solvers and creative thinkers. They like stories that go against the trend. They like stories about people who pray, and get answers to their prayers. This story had them all.
Near Lima, Ohio, Sarah talked with Keaton Brenneman, who heads an operation featuring the regular production of some 60,000 hogs—which may be just fine in a typical market setting, but way too many when restaurants and school cafeterias across the country have shut down. The closing of some meat-packing plants because of illness among their staffs simply made a bad situation worse.
Some 300 miles to the east near Acme, Pa., Sarah also talked to Mary Beth Brown, who with her husband has for many years operated the Whoa Nellie Dairy.
In many ways, the two businesses have the same customer base—and therefore the same problem. But the details of their operations are significantly different. Milk must be treated quickly, or it spoils. Pigs have other challenges.
But both the Brennemans and the Browns faced the ugly reality of having to find ways to discard valuable foodstuffs. Did that mean pouring hundreds of gallons of milk into the ground? Did it require the destruction of hundreds of 300-pound pigs? In both cases, that didn’t seem like good stewardship of resources these folks had worked hard to produce and that God had generously provided. Both the Brennemans and the Browns told Sarah how they had prayed, begging the Lord for an answer to their dilemma.
Readers who want to know how the Brennemans and the Browns responded to their respective challenges will have to check out Sarah Schweinsberg’s story for themselves—and can do so free of charge.
You’ll see why I call Sarah a gifted storyteller. You may even want to sign up as a regular listener to The World and Everything in It. There you will see the remarkable breadth of subject material that Sarah and her colleagues cover—day after day. You’ll also develop an appreciation for the technical competence that shows through in the production of the program. It’s a rare week when I don’t hear from some listener who says, “Your podcast is so well done; it’s so professional!”
As WORLD’s founder some 34 years ago, I am especially grateful that through those years God has been calling and equipping young men and women like Sarah Schweinsberg to do the work of truth-based journalism in a frighteningly secular culture. The stories they tell are true stories, producing a mega-story that brings great glory to God.
This doesn’t happen by accident, but by the conscious and focused effort of many people—through many years. So I’m thankful for Sarah’s parents and family, for her early teachers, for the faculty at Northwestern College, and for World Journalism Institute. Theirs has been a unique contribution to the Christian world in these bewildering times. And that’s quite a story all by itself.