An astonishing 20 years of LifeSite

It was just the two of us for the first several years. We had little news reporting experience, were totally green about Internet technology and web design.
Mon Sep 18, 2017 - 4:26 pm EST
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John-Henry Westen and Steve Jalsevac during LifeSite's 20th Anniversary Gala Claire Chretien

September 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The following was published in LifeSite’s 20th Anniversary gala program for July 20 in Washington, D.C.  Most of our readers do not know the history of LifeSite, how it started, what is so unique about what we do, how we keep going year after year and why we do what we do.

Many will find this reflection on LifeSite’s 20 years of existence to be enlightening. Those who have read this reflection have told us that they gained a new understanding of LifeSite from the article. 

Steve Jalsevac
Co-founder and President

John-Henry Westen
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief

An astonishing 20 years of LifeSite

In truth we must say LifeSite was first launched rather haphazardly in September 1997 thanks to Canada’s National pro-life organization, Campaign Life Coalition. At the time we could not have remotely imagined all that LifeSite would do and how very important it would become over the next 20 years. It was incomprehensible that 11 years later we would be separately incorporated both in the United States and Canada and become an international news service with 30 staff in several nations, publish over 60,000 articles, co-found international organizations and travel all over the world to spread the truth on faith, life and family.

It has been an astonishing, challenging and exceptionally blessed adventure. 

The top part of the Dec. 8, 1997 LifeSite Daily News email

It was just the two of us for the first several years. We had little news reporting experience, were totally green about Internet technology and web design and did not have any particular strategy or long-range plans.

We simply realized that there was a terrible lack of honest, well-informed news reporting about the deadly assaults on life and family that made life very difficult for the pro-life and pro-family movements. We were committed to try to do something to overcome the lies, negligence and manipulations of the mainstream media on the world’s most important issues.As well, we were always willing to go where we were led by God and to do what it seemed He wanted us to do - no matter the obstacles nor what others thought about what we did and wrote.

Because LifeSite operated in such an unconventional, by the seat-of-our-pants or, should we say, Holy Spirit-driven manner, our reporting has often been years ahead of others in alerting the public to the gravity of dangerous cultural developments and the need to respond.

On one development after another, many thought have accused LifeSite of being too “sensationalist”, “extreme”, “divisive” and so on. In fact, subsequent events almost always revealed that not only was our reporting accurate, the developments proved to be much graver than what we initially reported while being accused of “exaggerating”.  

The denial of Evil

Responses to LifeSite reports have revealed that even among “the Elect”, there is a practical daily denial that Evil exists and is always acting in the world. Most people foolishly live as though that there never was, or could never again be, a diabolical Communism, a mass slaughtering, diabolical Nazism, the Cambodian killing fields, a Rwandan killing nightmare, an evil called Satan and a real Hell into which very many have indeed fallen for having rejected the only reason for which they have been created – to know, love and serve God.  

The 2003 LifeSite home page, dramatically different from today's version.

President Reagan understood this when he stated, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same”. But today, far too many are being dangerously passive and not even acknowledging or seeing that there is a great battle going on for the hearts and souls of all men.

LifeSite’s major role has been to wake up the sleeping, resistant public to the grave battles between good and evil that are currently raging in the world.

God has been in charge of LifeSite

Looking back now, it is clear that the key to our success has been letting God be in charge and relying on His graces and inspiration rather than on our very ordinary and weak selves. We report whatever we have been led to report and leave the success or lack of success up to God’s Providence. With that there has been no room for ego. The work has always been a mission to assist the entire pro-life, pro–family movement (God’s movement).  The result has been frequent, amazing actions undertaken by readers in response to our reports. 

Working for LifeSite has never been a job. We have always worked as a team of servants for the Lord who is the real Master of LifeSite. That has made everything that seemed impossible to actually be possible.  

Running LifeSite has nevertheless still been incredibly challenging, involving 10-18 hour, intense days on the computer, on the telephone, travelling and endless other tasks for years on end. Our families have had to be heroic in supporting us.

Many of us have endured deep exhaustion, sickness and stress from facing many of the greatest evils in the world every day. And yet, it has been a rewarding, meaningful exhaustion. 

LifeSite journalist Matthew Hoffman, John-Henry Westen and Steve Jalsevac in Mexico city in 2011 with famed Mexican pro-lifer Jorge Serrano (on the left).

There is no other work that we would rather have been doing for the past 20 years. Everyone on the LifeSite team has been specially called to its mission. They could not otherwise persevere in its often humanly impossible daily grind.

We can’t see why we would want to be doing anything else. It is God’s work. What is more important or rewarding than that?

Many people blessings

One of the great blessings of being part of the LifeSite team has been the many exceptional people we have been privileged to work with over the years. They have all shared the same core principles, love of God and an understanding of what is truly important in this life. They have been heroes for the good of others. We constantly thank God for all those He has sent to us as we have needed them. 

It can easily be said that the current LifeSite team is the best that we have ever had. It is wonderful to be working together with such a competent, highly motivated, skilled, principled and self-giving group of truth missionaries. The current Board of Directors is also the best in our history and we are grateful for their commitment to this mission.

John-Henry Westen giving one of his talks to several thousand people at the Divine Retreat Centre in Kerala, India in 2008.

Another blessing has been personally meeting and often developing relationships with many amazing world leaders and other story subjects that we have reported on over the years. It has been humbling to have been in the presence of these great men and women - saints and true heroes of our time. They have been bright signs of hope in a world in need of such witnesses

A time for gratitude

Why were we chosen to do this work? We don’t know. We are weak, so very flawed, not with any special talents and yet, God has decided that he still wants us to continue to do His will with LifeSite. We will gladly continue, with humble gratitude to say “yes” for as long as we are able – and continue to give thanks and pray for all those He has sent to support and guide us in our humanly impossible task. 

Looking back over the past 20 years, we can only give thanks for all the graces and awesome experiences that have been given. God is so very good to those who simply trust in Him and consistently try to do His will. His generosity is truly amazing.
Thank you for joining us today in our 20th Anniversary celebration. Without supporters such as yourselves LifeSite could never have continued all these years. Please pray for us as we pray for you whom we serve.

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