About Just Between Us Magazine
By Shelly Esser
Twenty years ago God took international speaker and author Jill Briscoe’s dream for a tool for women with a heart for ministry and made it a reality. His stamp of faithfulness is evident in every issue as we have sought to be a friend to you who so faithfully and tirelessly empty yourselves on behalf of others every day.
I still remember sitting at my kitchen table working frantically to put the finishing touches on our premier issue, published in the summer of 1990. Then, just as now, we set out to address the joys and challenges of women with heart for ministry in a practical and honest way – and to come into your lives as your trusted friend.
Being almost a completely reader-written publication, I recall thinking, “Will we have enough articles to choose from, and how will we ever fill all of the pages?” Amazingly, in my 20 years as editor, we have never experienced a shortage of articles. We have covered topics on:
- Friendship in Ministry
- Raising Kids Who Love the Lord
- Deepening Your Relationship with Christ
- Dealing with Difficult People
- Handling the Stresses of Ministry
- How to Handle Leaving a Church
- And many more.
JBU is about women who share the same joys and struggles ministering to one another through the written word. And the importance of that kind of sharing is immeasureable because surveys continue to show that 44 percent of women with a heart for ministry have no trusted friend, and 30 percent have no person they can go to for support. The friendship need has not changed and continues to make the top of our “needs” list every time we survey our readers. JBU has attempted to make a difference by letting women know on a regular basis that they have some friends who are pulling and praying for them, and who understand because they have been there.
From Vision to Reality
In the early days it would have been easy to look at what we were taking on and conclude that there was no human way we could produce a magazine. And there wasn’t! As our general manager, Mary Perso, remembers, “Jill received a lot of advice in the beginning not to do this because publishing is so difficult. But Jill was tenacious in her vision!” And she had a dream to provide a tool written by ordinary women, serving an extraordinary God, for the purpose of encouragement and support. From the beginning, the deep love and concern for women with a heart for ministry is what has driven the dream.
There’s no doubt in any of our minds that every issue of the magazine is a miracle; that it is something that God does. He is the One who has directed this ministry from its very inception, and He is the One who has carried us through every issue with His fingerprints on the content and His Spirit bringing life, literally, from its pages.
Where It All Began
The magazine had a very interesting beginning. Christianity Today, Inc. started it by launching the publication Partnership (known as Marriage Partnership recently). Eventually that publication was broadened to a general audience of Christian women, so they created Sunday to Sunday, with the vision of ministering to the ministry wife. Jill Briscoe became a regular columnist. The publication not only reached women in the U.S., but was reaching women in other countries as well. (Today, JBU continues to make its way around the world with subscribers in over 70 countries and all 50 states. We also partner with ministries in South Africa, South Korea, and Japan.)
In 1990, the magazine was bought by another publisher located in Florida, and the magazine took on a newsletter format with Jill Briscoe as the editor. By the summer of that year, Just Between Us took on two new editors, a new format and a new name, Just Between Us.
For the next four years the newsletter was developed long-distance with Jill and me working out of Milwaukee on all of the editorial responsibilities. The summer of 1992 brought us full circle as the publication again underwent a major facelift, returning to its magazine format. We expanded it into a 32-page quarterly publication with the intent of providing more ideas, resources, and encouragement. And for the next two years a tiny team of volunteers continued to place this tool and vital source of encouragement into the hands of women with a heart for ministry all over the world.
Ministry, Readership Expands
Early in 1994, the publisher informed us that yet a new publisher would need to be found for the magazine. After looking at several possibilities, Jill and Stuart Briscoe decided to bring JBU to Milwaukee, Wis., where it has been published ever since.
Quickly, a team of volunteers were assembled to tackle the immense and added responsibilities of production and circulation. We prayed and prayed and prayed. Incredibly, one-by-one, God raised up people who shared the vision and the excitement – most of them not ministry wives themselves – making it possible to publish our first Milwaukee-based issue in the fall of 1994.
We’ve Come a Long Way
Perhaps the biggest change over the years has come in the area of technology. It’s hard to believe that in the early days, our first mailing was actually done manually. “We took the list of new people and orders and ended up writing them all out by hand,” recalls Mary Perso. “At the time we didn’t even have a typewriter!” On the editorial side, endless hours were spent retyping every single manuscript we received. Now, we have state of the art software and the web which has made a phenomenal difference in every aspect of the magazine.
Since publishing our first issue, we’ve changed virtually everything in JBU. But, throughout the years and changes, one thing remains unchanged: We’re committed to equipping and encouraging women with a heart for ministry – and being that friend who will come alongside women to cheer them on in their faith and service!
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