harnessing the power of photography for good

Jesus!

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Happy Easter!

EASTER13


Jesus Geeks in Action!

Jack praying for Faris Hassan after delivering a laptop for him and his family.  They are refugees from Iraq and have been in the US less than 5 months.Faris with his wife and kids.

Jesus Geeks is a non-profit ministry that provides quality computer services for those who can’t afford it.  They also take old computers and repair & refurbish them…then they donate them to families who don’t have computers.  Sunday I had the chance to follow Jack, leader of Jesus Geeks ministry,  as he delivered 2 laptop computers to families in need.  In the case of Faris, they are Muslims, but Jesus Geeks don’t discriminate…the family needed a computer and they delivered.

The ministry is about serving Jesus with their gifts.  They have learned to be culturally sensitive with families who don’t know Jesus…but when Jack asked if he could pray for them they gladly accepted.   After praying, Jack closed the prayer by praying ” in the name of Isa Jesus.  Amen.”  Jack said Isa is the name Muslims use for Jesus.  Very cool.

Jack helping set up the laptop for another family from Ethiopia.

Kids are kids, no matter where your from.  The computer isn’t quite ready for play, but the kids don’t care…

Gabrawhout with his wife and 6 kids.  They have been in the US for less than 8 months.  While Jack was setting up the computer, I spent much of my time photographing their middle boy, on the left between his big brother and sister.  He was so much fun, wanting to pose for me whenever I wasn’t taking photos of Jack in action…Praise God for the work God is doing through Jack and the Jesus Geeks ministry.  If you want more info about the Jesus Geeks ministry, you can go HERE.


Adventure Friends…

The Adventures in Life 20th Celebration was a great evening to come together and thank God for the work that He has done through Adventures in Life in Mexico.  I always look forward to these gatherings because I get to see good friends in the Los Angeles area that I don’t get to see as often…So Sunday was an added bonus for me!

Grady Martine and Paul Lathrop.  I’ve known these guys for some time.  Grady was the one who God used to get a hold of me back in high school.  He and another friend Danny Mandagie, wouldn’t let me not go to Younglife…as hard as I tried, God had another plan.  I am forever thankful to both of them for dragging me to Younglife.

Paul and Grady grew up together in Pacific Grove, and Paul came to live in San Diego with Grady in between missionary stops in Columbia and Mexico.  That’s when I met Paul.

Paul and his wife Deanne, at the Adventures in Life 20th Celebration.

My good friend Ernie, with his lovely daughter Adrienne. Wife and Mom, Joy, couldn’t make it to the Celebration.

I think Ernie and I met back in 1995 or 96, when we were both leaders with Younglife in San Diego.  We used to meet together for a men’s Bible study group every Monday.  Paul was part of that men’s group, along with another friend Brett Bristol, who didn’t make the celebration on Sunday.

I don’t recall who moved up to L.A. first, but in a few years…Paul, Brett and Ernie all had moved to L.A. and started meeting with Dave Miller.  I had met Dave sometime after he and Grady started Adventures in Life.  Grady and his wife Barb had moved up to the Pasadena area when Grady began working on his Masters at Fuller Seminary.

Dave with Ernie and Adrienne at Restaurante Guelaguetza, where the 20th Celebration was held.

Ernie, Paul and Brett all became involved in some way or another with Adventures in Life over the years and I think we have all been blessed by this ministry.  I never had a chance to go to Mexico with Grady, Paul, Brett or Ernie.  Perhaps in the future.  I do know that these are friends that I will have for a lifetime!  This is another reason why I am thankful for Adventures in Life!

Here’s to another 20 years of ministry!!


Promise Keepers San Diego :: Called Out

My first experience with Promise Keepers was at Anaheim Stadium in 1994 (seen here, before becoming a baseball only stadium).

It was an experience that I can still remember and it was when God really showed me the importance and the power of men who come together to pray and hold each other accountable.  Since 1994 I think I have been to 4 other Promise Keeper events, either to attend or photograph.This past weekend Promise Keepers was back in San Diego at SDSU‘s Viejas Arena.  The last time I was at there it was for the Rock Church Easter Service in 2007.  It was fun to wander around underneath, hard to believe it was 5 years ago since I was last there.Volunteers getting their assignmentsIt was a blessing to help Promise Keepers document this year’s conference in San Diego.  It was their last event for the year and it finished well.  Promise Keepers might not be filling 60,000+ seat stadiums right now, but I was exciting to see what God was doing.  They are trying to equip and encourage the men of the church.  Young and old and everything in between!   Calling them Out to be Men of God…in their marriages, families, churches, work places and communities.  There is talk of Promise Keepers coming back through San Diego next year.  If they do, I will be there!  What a blessing!


Oaxaca Summer 2012 :: Locked and Loaded!

Victory Loves Preparation!

Bags are packed…ready as I will ever be.  I’m heading off to Oaxaca tonight for 2 weeks of shooting with Adventures in Life Ministry.  This will be my 6th trip down in 3 years, and I have learned a few things over the years.

I have learned a few things over the years…no matter how well your prepared, something will happen that will throw you off and cause you to change directions in order to “keep up!”  So I basically gear up for the unexpected.

The biggest lesson of all, is that ministry in Mexico is fluid.  God is in control and He knows the beginning from the end and everything in between.  So if I rest in that assurance, I can go with the flow and ministry will be a lot more fun and successful.

In the end it’s not about whether I’m shooting with a Canon or Nikon camera, or if I’m using a PC or a Mac.

It’s about using the gifts that He has given me to the best of my ability.

So I prepare as best as I can, and I bring what gear I think I will need and use, and then I do my best to shoot what God shows me in a manner that brings Him the most Glory!

All Glory to God!


Ensenada 2012 :: An Overview of the Week of Ministry with Adventures in Life ~ Dios Es Amor Church

Terry Schwartz being prayed for by the kids at camp! 

Terry worked hard and took lots of great photos.  These are just a few to give yall an idea of what God did this week.

This is the heart of who we are as MISSION focused, to use the gift of photography to document what God is doing through ministries like Adventures in Life and small local churches like Dios Es Amor in Ensenada.

Dios Es Amor ~ Adventures in Life Kids Camp 2012

First Baptist Church of Salinas spent the week with Adventures in Life, sharing the love of Christ with the kids and remodeling the kitchen at Dios Es Amor Church.  The men worked hard and got tons of work done…Please keep the next group, from Gardena Valley Baptist Church and Panorama Baptist Church, in prayer as they come to Ensenada to finish the work that began last week.

Dave Miller, Executive Director of Adventures in Life, taking some time to recharge and rest during worship.

You can see more photos from the week on our Facebook page HERE


Terry in Ensendada :: This Is Who We Are

This is Terry.  He is a Marine.  He is wearing makeup.  Probably camouflage to help him blend in more and not be seen, in order to get the shot.  He appears to be printing photos…

Part of what Terry is doing, what MISSION focused is all about, is blessing folks with photos.  To often groups go on mission trips, take tons of photos, and the people they are working with and ministering to never see any of the photos, save the quick look at the screen after capture.

This is Terry in action 2 summers ago in Oaxaca, Mexico.  We were taking portraits of all the kids who came to camp so they could go home with a photo of themselves.

This was a huge blessing for us, realizing that many of these kids had never had their photo taken!  It really is a privilege to be able to do this.

As Terry is still in Ensenada, please keep him in prayer.  He will be taking portraits tomorrow of the kids at the Dios Es Amor camp.

We will be heading down to Oaxaca next week for another kids camp, where we will be taking portraits of the kids once again!

All Glory to God!


Missionary Follies…by Dave Miller

Missionary Follies… when separation replaces real mission engagement…

Dave Miller is Executive Director of Adventures in Life.  Adventures in Life has been leading groups of short term missionaries to Mexico for 20 years, ministering primarily in Ensenada, Guadalajara & Oaxaca.  MISSION focused has been to Oaxaca several times to photograph the work of AIL.

Dave shares some real keen insight into ministering in Mexico, which is relevant to all missionaries world-wide, that is important to remember.

You can learn more about Dave HERE and Adventures in Life HERE.

Enjoy

Yesterday I learned of a potentially grave consequence for mission work in my area of Latin America.

An organization with whom I am acquainted here in Oaxaca is in danger of being asked to leave the area.  It is an organization that is involved in some vitally important work in helping spread the Gospel in Southern Mexico and Central America.

What, you might ask has been their crime?  What is it that they may done to anger their national hosts and the leaders of the community where they serve?

They have chosen to work alone and not be involved with the larger community of people who live around their ministry base.  To put it another less charitable way, they have decided to not engage the community where they serve and have instead chosen to live a separate missionary life devoid of local contact.  It was not always this way.  There was a time when people in this community respected and felt connected to the larger work of this ministry.  The missionaries saw it as part of their ministry to engage and connect with the community in a variety of ways.

With the passing of time and a new generation of younger workers, that is no longer so.  Children of the missionaries no longer attend community schools, their parents deciding it is best to send them to the private English speaking school, which is miles away.  This was effectively the first step in breaking community with the very people they are serving.

Next was a gradual diminishment of personal involvement with the local Mexican church, choosing instead to worship together at their compound in English.  Now I know that these local churches are not the best, but perhaps those local missionaries could have been part of really helping and supporting the new emerging and struggling Christian community in Southern Mexico.

The people of the village, remembering the past when leaders of this ministry would be in homes and side by side locals in the market and at school meetings are feeling abandoned and neglected.  They are trying to figure what they must have done wrong to warrant such a pull back from a relationship that had transcended generations.

They are hurt.

Now the leaders of the village are saying that if the outsiders do not really want to be part of their community, why should they continue to let them live there.  Should anyone be surprised?

I believe when missionaries from another country go to live in a foreign land, for the sake of the Gospel, they should become part of the local community.

I do not favor missionary compounds and have learned over the years that locals tend to subtly resent missionaries who refuse to be part of their community.  That is one of the primary reasons my own ministry, Adventures in Life, has worked hard to stay connected to  communities in ways that can enable us to be seen as part of that community.  It is that connection that helps us to really understand the culture of the people we are striving to serve.

Let me give you an example.

A few years back, all across Mexico, people in rural areas were talking about the Chupacabra.  For the uninitiated, this legend is almost equivalent to the tales of the Loch Ness Monster.  The Chupacabra was a nasty beast that would kill your animals, and maybe even, your young kids.

I happened to be in a village at that time with an in-country missionary when a woman named Gloria mentioned her fear of the Chupacabra.  Because I was aware of this legend, she and I immediately had a bond that transcended our cultural barriers.  We were able to connect.

My missionary friend, who had served that area for almost 20 years had no idea what we were talking about or what this Chupacabra was.  He told me he never pays much attention to those types of things or the local goings on across Mexico, choosing instead to stay focused on his missionary work.

Hear me well on this… If your missionary work, be it in Mexico, Los Angeles, China, or your local Starbucks does not include understanding the local customs and culture of the people you are called to serve, you are going to fail!  

This is what that mission organization here in Oaxaca has failed to understand and because of that, an entire ministry may soon lose its opportunity to continue some very important work.  There is evidence that at least some in the organization have gotten the message.  Over the last few weeks, leaders have started attending local services and asking the local church to pray that they are not forced out.

I wonder when they will begin asking for forgiveness and repent for rejecting the very people they have been called to serve.

Because if they don’t, their ministry will soon look as if had been attacked by the notorious Chupacabra of Mexico.


God’s Time is On Time

A few years back I was visiting family in the Philippines., and on the TV they were running public service announcements with the then President Corazon Aquino, she was reminding everyone that “‘Filipino time’ is on time.”  

1987 Time Magazine Woman of the Year: President Corazon Aquino

I thought it was rather funny that it took the President of the Philippines to remind people to be on time.   In case your skin is lacking melanin(color), this may not make sense to you.  But i’ve been told by friends that they’re are other ethnic groups out there that have similar issues with timeliness.  That’s a good thing, since I have been known to have issues with being “on time.”

That’s why I subscribe to the philosophy that “when I get there, is when I get there.”  So I’m always on time!

Paul serving in Mexico with 2 Hermanas (Sisters in Christ)

This is Grady

The details are fuzzy and I may be off in my timeline., but that’s not what’s important here…

I met Grady back around in late 80’s when I was a wee lad.  He played a big role in how God called me to Himself.  Grady introduced me to Paul around the same time, when Paul came down to San Diego before heading off to the mission field in South America.  Paul spent was as a missionary in Colombia and Mexico for quite a few years.  

Paul and I kept in touch and when he was in San Diego and not in the field, we would spend many hours talking over coffee…

This is Dave

In 1992 Grady and Dave started Adventures in Life.  Dave was still a gringo back then so Paul became a key asset to AIL because of his Spanish speaking skills    I think I met Dave while visiting Grady in LA, don’t recall when exactly.

I took this photo of Ernie, his wife Joy and their daughter Adrienne this past weekend in Balboa Park.

I met Ernie back around 95/96.  Ernie, Paul, our friend Brett and I were in a men’s accountability group during this time. Fast forward a bit, next thing I know Ernie, Paul and Brett are now in LA and hanging out with Dave and helping with Adventures in Life.  I would see all these guys at least once a year when AIL would have their annual fundraiser banquet in Monrovia.

It was always my intention to get down to Mexico with Adventures in Life…and I almost made it on several occasions.  Almost…

Again, my details might not be 100% accurate but the important thing here is that God is in control and His timing is perfect!

Having spent the day with Ernie and his family, we laughed about the fact that I finally made it down to Mexico with Adventures in Life now that he, Paul and Brett (and Grady) are no longer actively involved.  Dave and I have had similar conversations recently…

I don’t confess to understand why either.  It would have made perfect sense for me to go down with Adventures in Life when all my friends were going as well.

What I do know is that it has been a blessing for me to have finally made it to Mexico!

I know that as a photographer, I was not ready back then…and that I have a better understanding now of how you can use photography to further the work of those in the mission field.

Are you using the gifts that God has given you for His glory?  Don’t wait to use your gifts for Him either.  Too many photographers think that they have to “make it” before they can do things for God.

God can use you if your heart is right with Him.

In the end it really is all about Jesus.

Be a blessing!


What’s so Good about Friday?

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Romans 5:17-21 ESV)

Christ died (on Friday) and rose on the third day (Sunday) that we might have life!  That’s the Good News!

If your looking for somewhere to go to church this Easter and your in San Diego, you can go HERE to see what the Rock Church is doing or in North County San Diego, you can go to Horizon North County’s site HERE.


Oaxaca Med Team :: Fruit of the Loom(s)

Next door to the church in San Baltazar is a family that has a textile manufacturing business, they make knit ware on the loom, from wool, cotton, silk and other assorted materials.  The father, Julian, has been a big help in the past as was part of the team of locals that helped build the church over the years.

Doug, Noemi, Elizabeth and Brian in front of the church in San Baltazar in February 2012

Doug got to know Julian during their time of working together while building the church.  Doug took a photo of himself and Julian that found its way back to Julian, via Dave, and now hangs proudly in the house of Julian.  Talking with Jaime, Julian’s son, he said his dad still talks about Doug and his experience helping build the church.Jaime and Dave, who is holding the photo of Doug & Julian

Dave shares…As I walked in the door, I saw it.  A picture I have seen a million times on my computer.  It is one I have used on the Adventures in Life Ministry web site.  It was a picture of my friend Doug and the new friend he made in Oaxaca, Julian, Jaime’s dad.

 Everyone in the family remembered Doug and the day that photo was taken.  I listened as they shared about their dad helping us build the church next door and his work with us alongside Doug in Tlacolula. 
This relationship building is what many missions forget to do.  Too often missions groups are in such a rush to “share Jesus” they forget this.  If Doug hadn’t taken the time to get to know Julian, and his family, we wouldn’t  have been invited to come over and see what they were creating on the looms…
Having come from a YoungLife background, where I first met Jesus as my Lord and Savior, you will hear over and over again that “you need to earn the right to be heard!”
Meaning, after you have earned their respect and built a relationship of trust with them, then they will be more open to listening about your life in Christ and what Jesus has to offer them (eternal Life).  Because they will want to hear, because they know you care!
Yesterdays adventure into the loom and textile world next door was made possible by Doug Fog taking the time to get to know Julian years ago.  We were literally harvesting the “fruit of the loom.”  🙂
You can read Dave’s blog HERE

Rock Academy Warriors :: CIF Basketball

The Rock Academy will be playing in their first CIF Basketball Championship this Friday at USD, 4PM.

These are just a few photos of their journey to the championships…They had to defeat Warner Springs, Calvary Christian and Vincent Memorial along the way.  The no 2 seed Warriors will be facing the no 1 seed Foothill Christian Knights for the Division 5 Championships.  Go Warriors!Rock Academy Cheer Team, encouraging the Warriors on to victory!Warrior pride!


Oaxaca 2012 :: Team Buffalo

Team Buffalo

The men from Buffalo, posing for 1 more photo after a week of hard work, fellowship, and fun.  Left to right: Adolph, Brad, Ed, Big Boy(aka Brigham) and Willie (in the wheel barrow)

I first met Big Boy 3 years ago, on my first trip to Oaxaca.  It has been a blessing getting to know him over the past 3 men’s work weeks in Oaxaca,  along with some of the other men from Buffalo, New York.  What I have seen, especially this year, was God bringing men from all over the United States and Raul from Guadalajara, Mexico, and quickly molding the men into 1 group in order to complete the work that God had brought them down to Oaxaca for.  Every year has been different, not necessarily better or worse than others, but God was clearly present from the first day of work.

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

2 Chronicles 16:9

Without a doubt the credit for this belongs to Jesus!  The men came and were ready to work and like  Big Boy, there were quite a few men that had been to Oaxaca before, so they knew what to expect.  Adolph and his son Willie came in 2011…it was great to see Willie step up and work hard during the week.  Brad and Ed were new this year, but it looked like they’ve been down to Oaxaca before.  Paul Bembia, who is part of the Buffalo crew couldn’t make it this year, he was missed.  I’m sure Bid Boy and the guys from Buffalo will continue to share about their experiences in Oaxaca, and hopefully more men will join them next year in Oaxaca!

Dave Miller made this little video at the end of the week with Big Boy, take a look.  If you want to learn more about Adventures in Life and the work they are doing in Oaxaca, Mexico, you can go HERE.


Oaxaca 2012 :: Taking it Home!

The men gathered with Pastors Americo and Norma and their kids, inside the newly finished storage room for one last team photo before heading for home

After our little celebration dinner Dave gathered the men together one last time to encourage and thank the men for all their hard work and dedication to this years project in Oaxaca.  Sharing from Colosians 3, Dave encouraged the men to continue to do “good” when they get back home.  Paul reminds us in vs 11, that we are here serving Christ as fellow believers and servants of Jesus.  We are no longer Americans, Mexicans, Lutherans, Oregonians or whatever label you wanna use…we all belong to Christ.

Dave said that he is thankful that the all of the men took their time and talents to come and serve in Oaxaca with Adventures in Life this week, but if they do nothing else for the Kingdom of God this year, he would be sad.  Dave encouraged the men to continue to serve Christ and others when they get back home.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:16-17 ESV)

Kingdom work never ends.  It was a great week of ministry and a blessing to be a witness to the work that God did through the men this week.  If you want to see some photos from this week you can visit our Facebook page HERE.

More photos soon…


Oaxaca 2012 :: Family Photos

MISSION focused began photographing military families (free of charge) 3 years ago, as a way to say thank you for serving our country.  It has become one of the biggest blessings for us as a group of photographers.  When I began coming down to Oaxaca with Adventures in Life in February of 2010, I started thinking that maybe we could take the concept of free family portraits to Oaxaca, as way to extend the reach of the local churches.  After talking with Dave and Pastors Americo and Norma, they liked the idea…we decided to try it out and see how it went.In this photo, I was able to gather, was 3 generations of one family, spanning 4 generations.  The young girl in red was the daughter/great grand-daughter; the gal in brown was the mom to the young girl and grand-daughter of the women in native Zapotec clothing; and then there was grand-ma/great grand-mother(bis abuela).  How cool was that!  What a huge blessing to be able to take what most likely was their first photo of the 3 of them.In July of 2010, Terry came with me to Oaxaca to help photograph a kids camp Adventures in Life was leading for kids who live in the mountains surrounding Oaxaca.  Terry and I were able to take portraits of every kid and print them so they could take the photo home with them.Along with a photo of themselves, we gave them a copy of the camp photo.  Our plan was to go into some of the towns Americo and Norma are ministering in and take family portraits, unfortunately we got rained in.  There was so much rain the first couple days we were stranded and unable to go and take photos. brotherjoe, Dave, Cyndy, Jim and Terry, with the owner of the famous Chaguita Nievas Oaxaquenas (ice cream like dessert) helados stand in the middle of the market in Oaxaca City.

Last February Terry came back along with Jim and Cyndy to help take portraits.  Unfortunately Jim got sick and had to stay back at home base as Terry, Cyndy and I went out to take photos.Terry in action last FebruaryCyndy taking photos of some of the local kids in San Baltazar, February 2011The reality is this:  In the parts of Oaxaca that Adventures in Life ministers in, family photos is a luxury item that most families can’t afford so they don’t think about it.  The best example I have of this is Hermana Norma’s parents, Santiago y Julia.This is a photo of Santiago and Julia’s wedding day in 1965.  Santiago is at the head of the horse that Julia is sitting on.Terry took this photo of Santiago and Julia last February.  It wasn’t until we showed Hermana Norma this photo that we learned that this was the first photo of the two of them since their wedding day.  I was in Santiago and Norma’s house yesterday and there was this photo hanging on the wall.

This is the power photography!  This is why we come to Oaxaca and this is why we choose to use our gifts for God’s Glory.

**to see more portraits please visit our Facebook page HERE, and while your there please LIKE us**


Oaxaca 2012:: Rounding Third….

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

(Matthew 5:1-12 ESV)

This morning Dave shared from Matthew 5, the Beatitudes.

It reminded me of something I heard and never forgot.  I was a young christian and going to Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido, Doc Strauss said “there are lots of people who say they love God, but very few truly love Jesus.”  He was talking about having a passionate personal relationship with Jesus.  Being fully surrendered to the One who I owe everything to.  All that I have is His.

Dave shared how much of Mexico is culturally religious and in much the same way many Americans fall into the same category.  As followers of Christ, are we looking at the Beatitudes as a check list for our faith?  As if we will gain eternal life if we get all our boxes checked off before God calls us home.  Christians have been told that they need to “do things” for the kingdom in order to become more like Christ.  We pray before meals, go to church, attend Bible study, read our Bible…and somewhere along the way we were told we should evangelize and go on mission.  Romans 6 tells us that obedience leads to righteousness.

Dave really hit it home when he said that we need to have obedience with purpose.

Today is Thursday and in less than 2 days we will be on our way back to the states.  Are we really serving Christ out of a deep passionate desire to honor Him with our whole life?  Or are we here because it’s what christians are supposed to do? Where are you going?

The great thing about our relationship with Christ is that while God demands perfection from us, He sees us covered by the blood of the Lamb.  By God’s Grace, we are given the Holy Spirit to help us along the way on this process of sanctification, becoming more like Jesus each day.

I love the photo above.  It reminds me of what our relationship with God is like…

As I watched this scene unfold, I couldn’t hear what he was saying to his son, but it didn’t matter.  I know what was being conveyed by his body language an the fathers smile…what I saw was a picture of God reminding me that He is there for me.  Though I may mess up or fall on my face, He is there to gently remind me that His Grace is sufficient.  I don’t have to “try” so hard.  Obedience with purpose.


Looking Beyond…

I’ve been inside the Cathedral de Oaxaca numerous times over the past few years.  I never paid attention to some of the details, or I just never “looked” long enough.  Looking beyond the gate, I noticed the cross with the sun…

I’ve seen this lady walking the courtyard in front of Iglesia de San Matias Jalatlaco, which is next door to Casa Arnel, for the last 3 mornings.  At first I thought she might be praying the rosary, but no beads.  Watching her, she appears to be praying.  I must have watched her for at least 20 minutes this morning while I was reading Proverbs and listening to some Hillsong praise music.  It made me think, in light of the worship series Pastor Miles is going through right now, am I fully worshiping Jesus with my life?

The details really jumped out at me, and as I watched two gals try to light a candle below, I saw Jesus(really).

I saw this candle of Jesus.  Yes I know…He doesn’t look like this.  As I was trying to get a photo that I liked, it became a reminder to me that I need to keep focused on Him.  In my photography and my life as a whole.  That there are things in my life that I’ve taken for granted, I don’t know if it’s because it’s always been there or that I’ve “seen this before” as in some of the details in the cathedral…
I am truly excited to be in Oaxaca.  My biggest prayer is that I would be focused on getting the images that need to be seen.  The images that would glorify Him and best show what He is doing in Oaxaca.  This being my third men’s week, I want to view it as if it’s my first time here.  There are men who are here for the first time, along with guys who have been down to Oaxaca multiple times over the years.  
If I keep focused on the Cross of Christ and remember why He had to die on the cross…I have no choice but to humble myself and realize I am in no position to ask for anything other than that Christ would be glorified in my life.
Please keep me and the men in prayer.  That the work gets done in a manner and spirit that brings Christ glory!
Soli Deo Gloria

Superfest SD 2012

Superfest 2012 at Point Loma Nazarene University

Sports is a great platform to share the Good News of Christ!  Praise God for all the folks who came forward in response to the message of Life through Christ!  More photos soon…


Let’s Focus on the True Meaning of the Season

I was listening to the radio today and caught an end of a segment talking about A Charlie Brown Christmas.  They were talking about how the folks at CBS wanted to change some things before airing it.  Among the things they wanted to change was the scene where Linus recites the passage in the Gospel of Luke concerning the birth of Christ.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14 KJV

The network execs didn’t thing America would want to hear a recitation from the King James Bible.  Despite all the problems CBS had with A Charlie Brown Christmas…at the end of the day, over 50% of TV’s in America were watching when the Christmas special aired!

A big reason the special aired the way it did was because of Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, insistence that they not change anything, including the reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Charles  Schulz said, “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?”

Our goal as photographers is to do the same through our images.  As the Christmas season has officially begun, we want to remind folks that Christ came that we all might have life…life to the fullest! (John 10:10)


Thanksgiving Blessings :: Thank You!

Happy Thanksgiving from MISSION focused to all yall!  We are thankful for the gift of photography and the freedom we have to express ourselves through this gift.  Most importantly, we are thankful for Jesus!


iaomai guatemala 2011:: decay

tonite was our last nite in guatemala.  we gathered together everyone from the states that was still with us, the translators joined us along with some of the key helps international staff that helped us in huehuetanengo.

its been a long day and i do believe the enemy is working overtime, wanting to discourage and distract me from the good that happened this past week.  its nothing new.

after spending a good chunk of the morning and early afternoon looking through photos of the work in huehue, cyndy and i had a chance to get out and have lunch with loida and liza at this joint around the corner…tastey stuff.  afterwards cyndy wanted to do some last minute shopping before heading home and didnt want to go on her own.

along the way we ran into what looks like an old church.  dont know the history or its current status but what immediately came to mind was the idea of spiritual decay.  it may of looked lovely back in the day and even quite grand, but if you were to look at it now…its a question of foundation, being rooted in what is good, that is Christ.  if God isnt at the core of who you are, no matter how many mission trips you go on or how many old ladies you help cross the street…the Bible says you have decay, or sin in your life that will kill you spiritually.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

this has been a blessed trip indeed!  but unfortunately there are folks who are still dying without Christ…both in Guatemala and in the USA.


WOW! Rock Surf & Miracle 139 Beach Outreach

i have family and friends with special needs kids…and i have had the honor of shooting events with luv em up (special needs ministry at the rock) in the past.

a night to remember

in the past 4 weeks i got to help document “a night to remember” and the rock surf & miracle 139 beach outreach for special needs kids.

the island praise & dance ministry performed and tim shared the Good News of Jesus for those who were attending and those who had stopped to watch.  they also had a time for those who hadnt been baptized to proclaim their faith in Jesus publicly….then it was time for surf lessons!  how cool was it to see everyone helping these special kids experience the fun and joy of surfing…everyone was blessed!

to see more photos from the event please visit the

MISSION focused FB page HERE


SELAH: Israel Trip May 2012

We are excited to announce our first trip to the Holy Land…

MISSION focused is going to Israel with K House in May 2012

If you’ve never been to Israel and have always wanted to go…this is the time.  Like many of you, i have friends who have been to Israel…and the stories you hear make you want to go and experience the Land for yourself!

Unlike many of the trips to Israel…this is gonna be a sloooow trip!

SELAH: “Pause and listen.”

This tour is a time to do just that and is geared towards those who want in-depth Bible teaching and also a photographer’s dream…time to NOT rush through the Land but rather to ponder through the Land, either through personal time of reflection or through the lens of your camera…or both!

We are going with Pastor Dan Stolebarger & K House, who will be leading and teaching us about the Land.  This is a dream tour for photographers and those who want to visit Israel at a more contemplative pace.

space is limited…if you’re interested please email us…

MISSION.focused@yahoo.com

Tour Brochure

Registration Form

Terms & Conditions/Waiver


Renovate

revovate is a bi-monthly gathering that welcomes youth and young adults who want to get serious about their relationship with Jesus.   renovates mission is to help equip youth to live a righteous lifestyle, full of boldness, yielded to the Holy Spirit & fully consecrated to His direction. their goal is to take campuses for the GLORY OF GOD!  see the power and presence of God invade every area of society in a mighty way.

they asked if i could come and take some photos for them…its a real treat to see youth & young adults worshiping Him with all their hearts…

call us rock photographers or mission focused, our goal is still the same….capture the Holy Spirit at work.  the vibe at renovate was electric, everyone was fired up for God!  yet in the middle of that this gal was in another place…the Holy Spirit was moving.

more photos are up….please visit our MISSION focused FB site HERE