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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: Missionaries... what do they really do over there???

Monday, October 3, 2011

Missionaries... what do they really do over there???

photo by Jeff Raymond

Isn't that the question we all want to know?  Missionaries visit our church and send prayer letters, but often times the question goes unanswered.  Or, at least, we don't catch the answer.  Joe Missionary and his wife stand up on that stage sharing story after story of their experiences with people in West Africa, but after the first bit, we sort of tune out.  Lose focus.  We admire this family for giving up everything to go serve in a difficult place, but their skills are obviously not in storytelling.  Nor photography.  We see blurry pictures of market square, cows eating socks (I kid you not) in the middle of busy roads, and a group shot of the new church, but we are detached.

photo by Jeff Raymond

Our culture is used to fast-paced technology.  Programs broken into 10 or 15 minute increments and cluttered with 20 second commercials.  Anything longer and we'd turn it off.  High graphic video games keep us riveted for hours, but try to sit and listen to a five minute presentation on what God is doing in the Czech Republic and we zone out completely.

photo by Jeff Raymond

And we can hardly blame the missionaries... though we usually do.  What are they doing over there?  Are they there to study the latest trends in media?  To photograph the people who desperately need to hear about Jesus?  No.  They are there to love those people and to tell them the Good News of Jesus.  A couple working alone in Slovakia doesn't have the time or the energy to take a quick picture of the ministries they are involved in... they are immersed in the work.

photo by Jeff Raymond

So what are they supposed to do when they return home on furlough and are faced with the task of turning everything they have done over the last 4+ years into a presentation for churches across the country.  They use what they have because there aren't any other options.

Photo by My Beloved or I... but we don't remember doing it!
Enter Jeff and Becky Raymond.  Jeff has a long history as a professional photographer, and after 12 years working in the home office of their mission board as Director of Photography, God made it abundantly clear that it was time for Jeff to take his ministry to the next level.  In July of 2009 they were appointed as career missionaries dedicated to helping missionaries tell their stories.  They travel overseas to learn and capture the stories in photographs (as well as other forms of media) that can then be made available to those missionaries.  They train missionaries, pastors, and Christian workers to be more effective in communicating their ministries.  They mobilize others gifted in photography and other visual media to go collect stories overseas as well.  And they stay up to date with the ever changing world of multi-media so they can implement them for missions and help the missionaries learn how to use them themselves. 

Together with their family, Jeff and Becky have been traveling the countryside since their appointment in 2009, reportedly traveling through 26 states as of this week.  In September, they departed on a 6 week, 13 state tour, traveling to churches and meeting with individuals to share their ministry and light a fire of excitement about the job the Lord has given them to do.  At 56% of their support needs (before they can pick up with their ministry to missionaries around the world), they are praying the Lord will provide through His people and bring them to the needed 85% by the end of October to meet their deadline for necessary training. 

photo source unknown
Through the rest of this month they will be continuing to travel through the plains states... and they'd love to fill in their schedule even more.  Would you like to meet with them to hear the amazing details (I only touched on it) of their ministry?  My family and I already have the opportunity of supporting this amazing ministry, but my heart is to help them more than that... I want to introduce them to you.  Maybe you know you can't help them financially, but you're still interested in their ministry.  They would love a chance to meet with you and/or to share with your church!

Want to sponsor one of the fields they aim to support with this ministry?  Go here now!

Or visit their website for more information!

One last thing to leave you with... an example of this amazing ministry.  All the audio and visual elements are done by Jeff himself.  The following is what Jeff tells his audience before playing this video:

The reason I like to show this video is that it’s an example of where missions communication is going – where you start with an end result of something God did in somebody’s life and tell the story behind it.  Instead of the typical missionary approach of standing up in front of a church and for 30 minutes giving a list of facts about their country and details of everything they’ve done for the past four years.  By telling stories, people hearts can be moved in only a few minutes.  Missionaries have stories, they have amazing stories.  But very few have the resources to tell those stories in a compelling, visual way, so that people can see with their own eyes what God is doing around the world.  I’m convinced that when people see with their own eyes, their hearts are drawn to find their role in missions and become more involved with what God is doing.

Fusini's Story from Jeff Raymond on Vimeo.

I can't wait to hear from you!!!



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