A Bittersweet Goodbye

A Bittersweet Goodbye

Sometimes we have to say goodbye to friends, and it's very bittersweet. For the past eighteen months, we have had an amazing couple be part of the IMM family. But this month, we had to say goodbye.

Junior and Mikaela became part of the IMM team during the summer of 2017. Junior is a fantastic cinematographer, photographer, and editor. Junior’s wife, Mikaela, is a great producer. Together they are a film-making powerhouse. They have done more than help to create The Heritage Project at IMM. They have also created several powerful short films that address social issues.

Junior and Mikaela are moving from Spain to the United States. Their goal is to be a good influence and Christian witness in the film-making world on the west coast. They don’t know what God has in store for them yet, but what they do know is that God wants them there.

Saying goodbye to these wonderful people is very difficult. In their time at IMM, we shared some incredibly long days — waking up before the sun to get started and not stopping until late at night. During this time, they became more than colleagues, they became friends. It’s bittersweet for our IMM family to see them go. Bitter in the fact that we are losing some great people, but sweet because we know that God will use them in a mighty way.

Junior and Mikaela, know that the IMM family loves you and will miss you. We are praying Numbers 6:24-26 over you.

“May the Lord bring good to you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be kind to you. May the Lord show favor toward you, and give you peace.”’

A Hope that Does Not Disappoint

Having lived in Spain going on four years now, I find there are things I miss from my home that I just can’t get here.  I’ve asked for peanut butter, jeans, A1 steak sauce, and software. But I can’t get EVERYTHING I want or miss, so I have to make some concessions.  Usually, it comes down to what won’t get held up in customs.  A couple of Christmases ago, a dear friend tried to send lefse (Norwegian potato pancake) in the mail.  It got held up for three weeks and had to get pitched! Sometimes the miracle of modern shipping disappoints. 

You might remember the scene in Back to the Future II when Marty receives a Western Union package sent 80 years beforehand! I love the magic of thinking of the faith Doc had in a post system that the letter would arrive!!!

In the book of Acts 2:38-39, we see that the Church was promised salvation through Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, a remarkable promise that they’d been awaiting for generations. If you catch in verse 39, it says “this promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away.” Not only did these favored Jews have access to this gift- but future generations and non-Jews alike.  Peter and the other apostles who were present that day knew that their work to share this good news would last far beyond that day.

Today in every corner of the globe, followers of Jesus are sharing this Gospel because they know it didn’t end with the biblical generation. At International Media Ministries, we continue to craft stories for those “a long way off.”  For those in places urban and rural; dangerous and safe; peaceful and war-torn— knowing it brings salvation just as it did in the days of Acts.

Unlike some of our modern mail delivery systems, the hope we hold onto through faith does not disappoint.  We can trust that God is who he says he is and faithful to reach to the most unreachable places, so all can hear!

Flat Tires – Bad Day or God's Plan?

Flat Tires – Bad Day or God's Plan?

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Last week, we drove 4 hours to the coast where we would shoot a big part of three of The Heritage stories. During that drive, one of our vans got a flat tire. I am very thankful we have proper insurance and the driver (a volunteer only here to help with logistics during the shoot) was able to get to the side of the road safely. I'm also thankful, that a person who lives in Spain was in the van. (We didn’t plan that. It just worked out!) He was able to communicate with the insurance company and tow truck about where they were and what they needed. But, he didn’t speak English. Thankfully, again, an American volunteer in the van was able to translate for the English speakers so everyone could understand what was happening as they waited on the side of the road. Whew! Lots of terrific coincidences — these were truly God providing for a hard moment. They got back on the road with only an hour and a half lost. Whew!

I was in another vehicle, but I was worried. That van had all the racks to hang up costumes. Thank goodness no one was hurt and everyone stayed in good spirits.

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Then, NO, NO, NO, another flat tire!! Are kidding me? We checked this all out before we left home. A different person was behind the wheel but again was able to safely gets to the side of the road. Having a tire blow out can be dangerous, but God kept them safe. Only now, it is much later in the day. No one was open to make the repair.

In missions, flexibility is the key, but boy, were we being tested. There were too many people in the van for one taxi. So, they had to call two to get them to our destination. The van and all the clothing racks would have to be left in another city until the following day. 

Back at the shooting site, we took advantage of a kitchen in the back of our Roman court set and hung costumes from weird oven racks. It wasn’t ideal, but God made a way.

Taxi #2 had another passenger. She, too, had gotten a flat tire. This taxi seemed to get quite lost. It took them one hour longer to complete the drive than Taxi #1. During that extra hour, our team members chatted with the other passenger – an English speaking woman. They led her back to God. She had wandered away from God, but during this ride, she recommitted her life back to Him and made new friends.

Leave it to God to use THREE flat tires to orchestrate the right moment to talk to someone who needed Him.

Incredible.

Anthony, Desert Father of Egypt

Anthony, Desert Father of Egypt

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This week, our production team is on location in the desert of southern Spain working on The Heritage Project. We are here—in the same location that Lawrence of Arabia was filmed—to tell the story of Anthony, Desert Father of Egypt.

Born into a wealthy family, Anthony followed Christ’s instructions to the rich young ruler. He sold all he had and gave it to the poor. Living in solitude in the desert, Anthony modeled self-sacrifice. He ministered to persecuted and imprisoned Christians. When many Egyptian Christians were swayed by Arianism (a heresy that said Christ was created and not divine), he journeyed and championed the truth of Christ’s deity.

Just as God called Anthony to a life of seclusion and service, we have been called to tell his story. We work with with crew and actors and equipment and costumes. We face challenges and illnesses. Yet, I know that we have other team members and partners who are standing with us and praying for us everyday.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. I am happy because you have joined me in spreading the good news. You have done so from the first day until now.
— Philippians 1:3-4

Production Has Begun!

Production Has Begun!

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It's been a nice (almost) two months living in Spain so far. I'm settling in and IMM is abuzz with excitement. We are starting to film the second season of The Heritage Project. This project has always made me so excited because it highlights the early Christians from Northern Africa and the cause of Christianity that they fought and died for. While Ghana (where I grew up as a missionary kid) isn't technically North Africa, it shows the courage of the people of Africa who fought for what they believed in.

The first season is not completely finished, but it is in post-production right now. Yesterday we started the first day of filming the second season. It's so exciting to see all the hard work of pre-production coming together. The costumes and props we've spent days and days on are finding their way onto actors and sets.

Please pray for everyone who is here to have strength and peace of mind to make it through a very intense filming schedule!

What is Your Heritage?

What is Your Heritage?

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A popular saying is “It’s hard to know where you’ve come from if you don’t know where you’ve been.” Understanding our heritage and where we’ve come from helps us to know who we are. For years people have searched courthouse records for any information about relatives.  Today with a simple DNA test, they can pinpoint your heritage to a close proximity of where your ancestors came from.

The heritage of the church is no different. For the first 400 years following Christ, North Africa was the powerhouse of Christianity.  Many people gave their lives for the cause of Christ. Others developed the theology that is still being used in the church today.

Built upon the sacrifices of the North Africans and those since then is the movement now being seen – going to all nations that all may hear, that all may know, that all may experience the love of Jesus Christ that has washed away our sins.  May I remind you, know where you’ve come from. Understand where you’ve been. In a few short years, we will be part of the heritage that Christians talk about.

The Promises of God

The Promises of God

The other day as I was taking a walk, I was listening to the Psalms and the verse Psalm 29:4 played,

“I will establish your descendants as kings forever; they will sit on Your throne from now until eternity.”

I felt a gentle stirring. This was a promise to David, he trusted and expected his family to rule forever and yet things didn't seem to go the way he was expected. When the Babylonian exile happened, the people of God must have questioned, "Why would God say that and allow this to happen? How will the promise ever be fulfilled now?"

Then more of these scenarios came to mind. Jacob and his family moved to Egypt to escape famine, as the generations passed, they became the slaves of Egypt. How will they become the great nation that God has promised? Had God forgotten?

The disciples looked on as their leader, who was supposed to save them, died right in front of them. What was God doing? How can He promise to save us and then... not?

Here in the future, we see the way each of these promises was fulfilled. Some took hundreds of years, one only 3 days, but God always kept His promise. He did not do exactly as people expected, but He did keep His promises. There are so many other scenarios throughout the Bible that show this over and over. 

The promises that God has made to me, and to you, may not end up looking the way we expect. They may not be answered in the timing that we expect, but promises are still promises. God does not forget them. Keep trusting, keep working, and keep praying.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13

Seeking More, Serving More

Seeking More, Serving More

This was the view from a “high place” in Turkey we visited recently. The closer shot shows several minarets of mosques. The official religion there is Islam.

One of our delivery partners there is on a government owned satellite. They are getting good news and hope in Jesus out into the airwaves. They don’t know from one day to the next if they will be allowed to operate.

Christians represent on .2 % of the 79 million people calling Turkey home. It’s important that they know they are not alone. A lot of Christians are leaving Turkey and it isn’t clear what the future will be there. They need to know that God is with them no matter what. It’s important for truth to go into places that are hard to reach.

At the conference, we heard that everyone in the Middle East has access to television and it is part of their culture. It is on in the background and scenes of daily life. Even when satellites are forbidden or confiscated people just buy another one. They want to know what is happening outside their region. Many women and children are isolated in closed homes and this is their connection to the world.

When we climbed this historic citadel, I looked down at the roofs and the hundreds of satellite dishes all crowded around the symbol of Islam in the minarets. It brought this fact to life for me. People are looking around and seeking more than what they have locally.

What a privilege for IMM videos to be part of programming that goes on the air to share God’s love to people who are seeking answers! Please stand with us in prayer and in giving to reach the many families and hearts represented by all these satellite dishes.

Pillar

Pillar

Not Today

Usually, I try to be overly clever and write a blog about the Lego Bible, the history of Sunday School flannel graphs, or the neglected genre of Christian horror movies. Not today.

There is a column outside my office in the IMM basement. Now off-white, it was once painted white. It is stained. It is peeling a bit. Standing under a terrace next to the heater access door, surrounded by dusty stones and concrete pavers, it helps support the building. One day God brought it to my attention.

“I need you to be like this column – standing here beneath notice. Slowly, I’m going to place a heavy weight on your shoulders – more than you can bear alone. Stand and do not move.”

Yeah, I feel it. Many days I have to bear up and sip my breaths so I don’t hyperventilate.

There were dark days long ago when I could not bear weight. There were months leading into years when I could not stand, and I have spent a wealth of endless hours shifting and rolling, day and night, on cloudy days and sunny days, trying to find a cool breeze or shade from unreasonable and scorching fear that I did nothing to deserve. I could not function in the world, and the world had no use for me.

What I would have given for just one day to be bored, or the luxury to worry about being cool.

So how is it I am still standing? Actually, it is a Biblical truth. I am weak, and God uses me.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
— 1 Corinthians 1:27

Today, I see the trials and the unearned brokenness of my fellow laborers here at IMM. We are all weak and yet we stand… each bearing the weight of being as children in a foreign culture, each reaching for daily strength to pull through the day, to overcome a new normality and the crushing crisis. Sometimes at night I wake up and hear them, my brothers and sisters, trying to stand.

And the world… the world which has no place for the weak and the foolish, see how God uses us to send His shining Hope and His bright Love to millions of people in dark times and dark places all over the face of this Earth.

All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
— Revelations 3:12

At Home at IMM

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After 22 years on the field in Russia – mostly as a single missionary – plowing new ground and planting new ministries far from colleagues, I was more than a little leery of joining an established ministry in a “reached” nation. However, as I learned more about the vision and purpose behind IMM to put Jesus on Every Screen, in particular in the Muslim world, I could see why God would bring us here for such a time as this.

Also, God gave me and my husband two beautiful toddlers while we were home itinerating the last year and a half. I find myself in a new season of life. I wasn’t sure how I could contribute to the ministry within the limited time and energy I have left after meeting my kids’ needs. Plus, media isn’t my gifting. It's my husbands! But even before we arrived on the field, I was offered the opportunity to mentor incoming associates. I have enjoyed sharing my years of experience and encouraging others in the time I do have available.

With small children, it is such a blessing to have a community and built-in fellowship, especially at the beginning. I’m so thankful that we aren’t having to go it alone, and that I can make a substantial contribution despite my time limitations and my different gifts.

Our Next Guest... (part 5)

Our Next Guest... (part 5)

We don’t live in America any more. In fact, the closest thing to us that that remotely sounds like the name of America is our local grocery store that we lovingly call “Merican Donut.” (The name in Spanish sounds very close and is often mistaken by non-Spanish speakers as what we jokingly call it.) Because of that, we don’t celebrate special holidays like we would in the US of A. This year, for the 4th of July, we invited some very special guests to come celebrate with us, by way of a workshop.

Ladies and Gentlemen our next guests…Dr. Benson Fraser and Dr. William Brown. 

Dr. Brown is a Professor and Research Fellow at Regent University. Dr. Fraser is a Westminster Canterbury Fellow for Religious Studies and Lifelong Learning at Virginia Wesleyan University. Together they co-founded Brown, Fraser & Associates, a communications consulting company.

On the 3rd and 4th of July, these two brilliant communications researchers gave us a two day intensive workshop about “Transformational Media.” We had a group of people, who use media to share hope in some hopeless places. They came to participate and learn how to better use entertainment-education strategies and the indirect story method to shine a brighter light in some of the darkest regions around of the world. (*Note for safety reasons some were not photographed.)

This workshop was absolutely amazing and gave us so much information to process that we can only become better storytellers and artists. After this event, we invited our non-american friends to celebrate the 4th of July with us by sharing an amazing meal… smoked pork loin, grilled chicken, potato salad, baked beans, hot rolls, and cherry cobbler.