Bathsheba: A Life Recovered

Bathsheba, mentioned by Matthew as significant in the line of Christ, was a virtuous woman. For the past several weeks, our team at IMM has been working day and night to recount these virtues. In one scene in the movie, we see Bathsheba doing many of the things that a great woman does according to Proverbs 31. But what was it in her character that propelled her to do these virtuous things?

From what we know of Bathsheba, she endured tragedy, made mistakes, and kept on believing for something better. Here we see her in sackcloth and ashes at a low point in life when she probably wondered if God cared for her.

The remarkable character exhibited by Bathsheba (and David) is marked by humility and surrender before God. As David wrote in Psalm 51,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.

Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

On the days we filmed David and Bathsheba confessing their adultery, we wanted to invite God to search each of us on set, in the attitude of Psalm 51. We prayed together and sang Keith Green’s “Create in Me a Clean Heart”. What a sweet time it was!

What is the source of the virtues that we are known for? Our beliefs and attitudes directly influence the actions that are seen by the outside world. I encourage you to take time today to pray David’s prayer, “Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts!”

Considering Cutting Edge Technology For A Timeless Story

This week, we are entering the casting phase for Bathsheba. Along with casting for actors and actresses, we are also considering the use of two very different cameras for the shoot. For the past two editions of the Women in the Bible series, we have shot on the RED ONE camera system, a prestigious camera with lots of great professional features. For this shoot, we’re also considering the new Sony A7sii camera, a much smaller camera that is also 10 years newer. 

It’s amazing how much different the two cameras are, and how far technology has come in 10 years. We’re weighing the pros and cons of each camera system, doing lots of tests on how each serve us both in production and in post-production as we push the footage to the limits to recreate biblical Jerusalem, digitally.

As I think about the technology and how much things have changed in a decade, I’m also struck by how timeless the stories are that we are telling. The story of redemption in Bathsheba is still as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago when it occurred. The same God offers the same mercy to us as He did for David, even in his extreme weakness. We are telling this story using the latest technologies and with modern filmmaking techniques, to tell today’s world an old story that shows the unchanging, incredible love of God. 

Preserving the Past

At IMM, we have a library of tapes with previously recorded videos such as the Open the Gospel series. Using the Teranex, I am able to play old videotapes and record them in widescreen digital format.

IMM personnel have spent thousands of hours writing scripts, creating period specific costumes and props, hiring actors, and shooting the videos. In the past, they recorded the videos on tapes. These videotapes that carry the priceless message of the gospel are in danger of sticking together and becoming unusable. With the Teranex, I am able to preserve the videos.

After using the Teranex to reformat the videos, some of them that are in languages such as Farsi can be used immediately. For example, IMM personnel can upload the videos to a device called the Hope Box. The Hope Box is a router from which refugees and others who are hungry for God’s Word can download videos, Bibles, and teaching on their telephones. Other videos are in music and effects (M & E) format. These are ready to take into another country so that an IMM team member can work with people there to translate the video script into their language and record it. After working to record the video, the people it that country can broadcast it or we can upload it into the Hope Box. I am thankful to have a part in using the videos to spread God’s Word.

Greetings from Indian Bible College!

One of the objectives IMM has set for itself is to share the wealth of our experience as media producers. One way we do this is to teach media production classes. Over the past four years I have had the privilege to travel to Indian Bible College in Flagstaff, Arizona and spend a week or two teaching things like classes on PowerPoint, camera operation, lighting, editing, etc...

One of the things we try to do is, as soon as possible-either the first or second day, get the students actually using the equipment and producing something.

ne of the challenges I’ve faced is that most of the students don’t own a computer…which makes it challenging to teach media production! Early this year a local ministry donated 10 used laptops. It's been great having the laptops for the students to use! They've been able to work on PowerPoint projects as well as begun editing the two scene scenario we are shooting in the photo to the left.

Thank for your prayers for both myself and the students.

Awake at Night

Yesterday I finished my part in the post-production of Tamar. The IMM team has been working hard to lock down their completed portions.Sunday is the premiere in a small cafe in Madrid. From there it will follow the path of the two previous stories in the Women of the Bible Series. The stories of Ruth and Rahab have gone into places unknown, and still continue on the long distribution road that Biblical stories seem to travel.

Each story has been a learning curve for me and everyone involved. The IMM team has been audacious with every story and brave enough to move forward without regard to all the ways in which we could have fallen flat on our faces. I’ve had to learn and use different compositing software on each story, with names like Shake, Nuke and now the more familiar After Effects. I have poured myself into each of the 25 frames in every second of footage. I don’t bother counting after 90,000. I have sweated under technological challenges that have stalked me through many restless nights, and have struggled to quiet the accusations of the loudest critic: myself. I know that everyone involved in these productions have wrestled with similar doubts and challenges in the hours when the mind and body should have been getting rest and respite.

However, all of our travails mean nothing compared to the privilegeof watching the stories of women in the line of Christ develop year after year in the chilly basements of IMM. I have not seen fairy-tales emerge from our work. What I have observed more closely resembles stories ripped from the headlines. I have seen refugees, genocides, famine, cultural corruption, selfishness, lust, and women who are our Savior’s great, great, great, great, grandmothers (I didn’t count) caught in the no-man’s land between these all too familiar forces that sweep the Earth. They prevail and God’s plan always redeems the circumstances. I love working in the basement. 

The Reason We're Together

“It's the reason we're here together,” he said.

His name is Jamlin Sam and he was born and raised to an average family in India. I was also born in an average family in Montana. But that wasn't the reason we were now friends.

Jamlin attended an Assemblies of God Bible school in India. I attended an Assemblies of God university (or two) in the United States. Normally, though, I don’t leave my family behind to connect with other alumni.

Jamlin loves music, video, and a life in full-time ministry. But that wasn’t enough for me to have traveled all that way to see him.

None of these things are really the reason we met. Fitting that on Good Friday, my last day in India, Jamlin recognized that it was all because of the Cross. Because of the Cross, our lives have taken the paths that they have. Because of the Cross, we consider dying to ourselves. Because of the cross we were together on Good Friday eating hot cross buns and drinking chai.

I’m so thankful for what Jesus did for me on the Cross, and that he did it for all. It’s what allows me to recognize his work in myself and in others as not my own goodness, but his. I’m thankful for those like Jamlin who become my friend for life because we share in being part of God’s family.

Spring - The Celebration of New Life

Here in Spain the countryside is usually varying shades of brown. During the extreme heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter, the rolling hills around Madrid are dry and brown. But in Spring, with a bit of rain and mild temperatures, the hills become incredibly green. It is truly beautiful to me, having spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and the tropical, green climates of the Philippines. It reminds me of "home." In our family, this week is not only the first week of spring, but also my dad's birthday. If he were alive, he would be 80 this week.

With the green around me and remembering my dad, I am feeling quite nostalgic. Sometimes, it is good to look back to appreciate what God has done in our past, just as I am doing this week as I remember my earthly father and all he meant to me. But SPRING is about looking forward to new life and new adventures.

Think of your life before embracing God's love, living in the parched land of your sin. Then came the day you accepted his gift of love into your life and were able to drink of the living water, the same water that Jesus offered to the woman at the well in Samaria, moving from being parched, brown, and dying to being "green," alive and growing. This is where our adventure begins. We are changing, growing, and moving into the adventure that God has for us. Never to remain stagnant, but to always be willing to take on new challenges and to share the reason for our "spring" when the world around us is still in the dry and parched winter.

Thank you, Lord, for your gift of SPRING.


Fernando Loves Dinosaurs

Fernando loves dinosaurs. He also believes in evolution.

Easter is a big event in Spain. There are processionals to represent Jesus walking to Calvary, but it’s very solemn and ritualistic. Fernando doesn’t like the ritual of going to church and the things you must do, especially confession.

Once a week, I teach English to young Spaniards. Just like young kids anywhere, they are very impressionable. Since this week starts spring break for most of them we do Easter-themed games and activities in class. It was at this point Fernando told me he believes “we came from monkeys.”

They know I’m a missionary, so I was easily able to explain that I believe what the Bible says. We talked about how dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. I told him I think dinosaurs did exist, but based on the Bible, the Earth isn’t that old. Of course, he strongly disagreed and moved on with “I don’t like going to church because I don’t like having to confess every little thing I’ve said or done. It doesn’t change anything.” He went on to say it doesn’t make sense that we have to confess to a person.

My response was simple: “I believe all you have to say is ‘Jesus, I’m sorry, please forgive me’.” His immediate response was, “That's so much easier than going to confess!”

Please pray I am able to show these kids that Jesus is accessible without the need for ritual!

Director's Update from Denise

We just came off of a miniature fundraising cycle in January-February (normally 13 month or more). It's amazing how this missions life continues to stretch us after more than 10 years. You might think you're getting the hang of it, and just then it changes. 

My expectations of two month of fundraising were very blurry. I knew instinctively it wasn't sufficient time from a financial perspective, but God often has other plans in these situations. The journey became about saying thank you to those who have been so faithful for so many years. What a beautiful thing!

The journey, much to my surprise, also became about talking to young people about International Media Ministries and how sometimes you start life with one career path in mind and God does some fancy footwork that surprises you along the way. 

My husband Kerry and I started our career paths in secular journalism. We find ourselves delighted and humbled at the journey that has brought us all the way to full time missions, video, and IMM. 

So, we got to share these ideas and more at a Chi Alpha Salt Gathering of secular students in the southern midwest. That was one that debunked the grand illusions of going to serve and finding out your mission involves A LOT of personal growth.

We shared online in an introduction to Global Missions class at the School of Urban Missions Bible College and Theological Seminary. It was a time of telling our journey as it changed, and about God's use of media in many parts of the world.

We shared in a film class at Evangel University and in several digital media courses at Valley Forge University. I'm excited to see how God moves in young lives who are inspired to turn missions on it's head and look at it from different angles -- including media!

Planting the Musulmanes

A few weeks ago in a dream, I saw a purple plant bulb that recently had been placed in the ground.  I overheard men walking around, using shovels.  They were saying, “We are supposed to plant the musulmanes.” They were digging the bulbs from one area and planting them in another.   As I was looking at the purple bulb, I awoke and realized that musulmanes is not the name of a type of plant, it is the Spanish word for Muslims.  Later, I discovered that the plant bulb that I was seeing was actually garlic. 

What I was experiencing in the dream left me with the impression that it is God’s purpose to plant Muslims in Europe.  One of the people groups that are being transplanted to Europe are the the Kurds.

Years ago, after agreeing to pray for a people group during a missions convention, I was given a paper with the name Kurmanji on it.  When I read about these people who speak the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish, I discovered that they were living much as they had for hundreds of years.  They traveled little and used traditional farming methods.  I was wondering how missionaries could present the gospel to these people.  With the massive population shifts that have occurred recently, there are now about 800,000 Kurdish people living in Germany.  

We need to ask God to continue to show us what he wants us to do to reach these new inhabitants of Europe.  Surely, he wants us to work together, collaborate, and share resources.   IMM recently supplied people who minister in a refugee camp with a portable wifi transmitter that we call a HopeBox.  Refugees were able to download the Bible and other resources on their phones.  Several received salvation.  I pray that we will have more opportunities to use this evangelistic tool and others that we have developed.

Islamic Walls Are Beginning to Crumble

Just like the Iron Curtain, we are seeing the walls of Islam begin to crumble. One of the videos we produced this year for a like-minded organization was put up on various social media sites. (You can view it here: Laila: Looking for a Miracle)

Over a one month period, there were over 22,000 views of the video from people who live in the Arabian Gulf. The aim was to discover people who identified with the story told in the video, engage them in personal contact, and encourage as many as possible to begin meeting together in private chat room groups where their questions and concerns could be discussed and answered. 

Disillusioned Muslims are searching for answers. Unfortunately, in many places the truth of the Gospel is still hidden from them. Leslie and I want to say a hearty thank you for your partnership in making this possible; seeing the good news of Christ delivered via media to every last dark corner on the earth.

Completing Tasks

I’ve been carrying the same Top Flight Composition Notebook on and off since October of 2010.  It’s  not the first one; it’s just the most recent.  I picked up the habit of using it for to-do lists, approximately one page per week. Most weeks, there are many tasks that go undone and get written down on the following page.  At the moment, I’m feeling stress to finish most of the jobs on my list before the end of the year.

In a way, I’m very much like this book of lists.  I’m constantly not as complete as I would like, or that maybe others would like.  I don’t always check my boxes. I sometimes get my priorities rearranged. But I’m thankful for the truth in this verse from Philippians:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Phil. 1:6, NLT)

Do you sense unfinished tasks in your life? Did the things you set out to do last January bite the dust? Do you ever feel like there’s no point in trying? Take heart!  This verse promises that if we allow Him to continue the work… trust His processes to bring change in our lives… believe that He is able to accomplish the impossible… then we can know a day of finishing will come.