harnessing the power of photography for good

Miles Ahead Jamaica

(take 2) low hung fruit….on the tree of creativity

the mythical tree of creativity, in my neighbors front yard.  i wish i would have known that sooner.   many moons ago, i had this sticker that said “mediocrity sucks.”  it was an ad campaign for the distributor of italian cycling gear, back in early 90’s, i dont remember now who it was.  i guess the ad campaign didnt work too well after all.  i do recall the idea was dont use inferior(mediocre) gear, use theirs.  “mediocrity sucks” has been something ive held on to ever since, with obvious implications to our life with God.   i do think that as followers of Christ, we (i) often settle for mediocrity, saying “its good enough.”

david du chemin says that in the life of a photographer, we often settle for good enough, the so-called low hung fruit on the tree of creativity. he is speaking specifically about shooting in exotic and picturesque locations.  in these locations, its hard to not take beautiful pictures. thats easy!  taking powerful, compelling images of the mundane or the “ugly” parts of jamaica, where toursits dont go…that takes hard work, sweat, and patience.

the GOOD is the enemy of the BEST!

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,   so that you may approve what is excellent

Philippians 1: 9-10

in the greek, paul is saying the “knowledge and all discernment” is an understanding of what is good vs what is excellent.  he assumes we know the right thing to do (choosing between right and wrong), God wants us to understand that the choices we make are often decisions between what is good and what is best.  God wants us to choose the BEST!  this is what paul is praying.  that we would see what is good and excellent, and that we would choose the excellent, the best.

a pastor friend of mine shared with me and a group of brothers who met with him weekly, a perfect example from his life of what paul is encouraging us to do.  he had just finished eating dinner with the family and was looking forward to spending some time with God reading the Word.  as he sat in his easy chair he began reading…his kids finished clearing the table, and his wife began washing the dishes from dinner.  at that moment, God told him to put the Word down, and go help your wife do the dishes.  he was speaking honestly with us that evening, and he struggled with this request for a bit.  his mindset was,  what better thing is there than chilling and reading God’s Word?  nothing!  but God said, right then and there, the best place for him was next to his wife, helping with the dishes….setting an example for his son and daughter, living out what he had been teaching them.  after finishing the dishes and thanking his wife again for the delicious meal she had cooked, he went back to the Word.

at that moment, a choice between helping his wife and reading the Word, one was clearly better than the other.  he chose the best.

photographers and christians often take the easy route, we grab the low hung fruit cause its convenient and within reach.  but like the tree with the fruit way up high, where its hard to reach and takes an extra amount of effort to get to.  the rewards are much bigger, the fruit is tastier and sweeter.

in preparation for the caymans, the task is to not duplicate the photography we did in jamaica.  but to look for what God has for us NOW!

as people who love Jesus, we stretch ourselves as photographers, reaching for the high hung fruit on the tree of creativity…because of this, we will inevitably fall at times.  but the rewards and blessings involved with stepping out in faith, to reach higher and further than we have dared to in the past is far greater than merely settling for just good enough.

i had the pleasure of spending some time today with kimberly, a senior at the rock academy, for their “shadow” work day.  she is interested in journalism and photography, so she got stuck with hanging out with me after not hearing back from national geographic and getty images.  i said a bunch of silly stuff, pretending to know something about photography, i think i fooled her.  but i did get to share something that i feel was worth sharing…at catalyst last week, andy stanley closed this years gathering with a quote from howard hendricks (a professor at dallas theological seminary).

if there is anything that has kept me on track all these (50+) years of ministry…its sticking to this principle:     many things will detract us from our goals, but the secret to concentration is elimination

i was reminded of this quote after reading nicoles blog from wilderness.  as we allow God to work in our lives, His process of sanctification (making us more like Jesus) isnt always easy or fun. but as we eliminate the mediocre, the distractions, and focus on the best… it will only make us stronger and more focused on the race thats before us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Rock Hero: Sean Burgess – God’s Healer…

Sean Burgess was honored as Rock Hero today and when I heard he was going to receive an award a flood of memories came back from Jamaica.  I may not know Sean personally but I had the occasion to talk with him a few times while in Jamaica.  If it wasn’t for Sean I would have missed out on some major life  changing experiences.

One of the days I was covering events for Miles Ahead, I had the pleasure of working with the med team assigned to the Flankers Bible Church serving the local community with their medical and most importantly their spiritual needs.  The med team partnered up with locals from the church and had a sign in table up front where people came who were in need.  They went through a triage process and after some basic information was taken as well as vitals, proceeded into  one of two makeshift rooms that were setup with blue tarp near the altar.  After receiving care for their physical ailments they then would proceed to get spiritual counseling and then medication if needed from the pharmacy that was setup in another room.  Watching this team in action blessing people who very much needed their care was truly inspiring.  I even had the opportunity to sit and pray with a couple of people during this moment in time that I will remember the rest of my life.

I am forever in Sean’s debt for having recognized and setup this ministry to care for people in need of medical care.  He provided me with experiences that only God could have provided through him.  Thank you Sean and thank you God for picking him to work through!  I hope to find myself working along side you again in the future, God willing!

Loading up the buses with medical supplies for Jamaica…

Sean giving some last minute direction before breaking up into teams for the four med clinics…

Rock Hero…

Sean receiving award…

Sean quietly giving directions in the background while loading the buses in Jamaica…

Can’t head out to do God’s work without a little prayer…

Makeshift pharmacy setup with over $250,000 in donations…

Girls from the Flankers Bible Church and one of them taking a rare picture of me…

Roxi showing the kids how to use a  stethoscope…

The Miles Ahead Medical Team @ The Flankers Bible Church

Want to learn more about how to help?  Check out the medical ministry website at http://iaomaimedical.org/


Jim Wanglund

Rock Photographer

Iaomai Medical Ministries

want to introduce yall to iaomai medical ministries

iaomai means to heal and to cure, to make whole both physically and spiritually, thru the wounds of Jesus!

sean burgess started iaomai medical ministries after the miles ahead jamaica crusade and the do something campaign. check out the following videos, it will give you an idea of what God is doing and how He is using iaomai to minister around the world.

part of the vision of the rock photographers is to use photography to partner and help other ministries like iaomai and adventures in life to minister and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.  photography is fun and using photography to glorify Christ….it doesnt get any better than that.

now go pick up your camera and shoot something for Jesus…

Full Circle: the Body of Christ

its been almost 2 months since Jamaica.  it seems ive looked at every picture the photographers took there.  i really dont have an exact count of how many pics we all took, last i looked, it was somewhere around 15,000+.  and thats just the photo team, not counting the pics i got from those taking pics on their own.  its been fun looking at all the pics, now that ive had some time to look more closely at the pics… 

the photographers had a food and fellowship time the other week.  it was a time for those who went to Jamaica to share about what God did with the rest of the team that didnt make the trip.  we shared some of the pics that were taken in Jamaica, specifically of the med team, school assemblies and community projects.  Art & Rita Diaz came and joined us for fellowship that night, and got to hear and see what God showed us.  Art and his son Jose spent over 2 months in Jamiaca helping lay the groundwork for the work that was done in Jamaica.  

Art was able to see from our pictures, that all the hard work he and Jose had done, resulted in many successful events all over montego bay.  Art was telling us that many of the schools they visited, to arrange assemblies and meetings, they never went back to visit, and to see the faces of the kids smiling and knowing that they heard the Good News of Christ was such a blessing. 

this was such a blessing to all of us as photogrphers, and a very tangible example of the power of an image.  it was such a great example of 1 Corinthians 12, how we are all part of the Body of Christ, each gifted to accomplish certain roles, inorder to further God’s Kingdom, as a team.  the photographers were able to be where Art was, to document the completion of work that Art, Jose and countless others made possible.  so i dont know who was encouraged more, Art or the photographers, from his testimony of God’s work.  i do know that God is real and present in Jamaica, that there are believers in mo bay who love Christ and are daily seeking to advance His Kingdom, and that the work continues…hopefully some day soon we will be able to go back and document what God is still doing in mo bay, because we all heard God’s call in and went.

Praise God

Is it Really Over?

Is it really over…

After months of planning and preparing to spread the Word of Jesus, is it really over?  For me this was a trip of many firsts, my first mission trip, my first crusade, and my first need for a passport to travel outside the country.  But most of all it was my first chance to see what happens to many people’s lives during a mission trip.  Connecting with the local people and the members of the mission trip will be something that I will remember the rest of my life.  The people of Jamaica have touched upon my emotions and soul in ways I cannot explain in words.

So often we get caught up in our day-to-day activities, that we don’t see the bigger picture that we are here on this earth to help one another and perform the works that God calls us to do.  The Holy Spirit was working through every one us on this trip and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without that influence.  Working many hours with little to no sleep, through the obstacles, we made relationships that really showed the Jamaicans that you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.  Their knowledge of the Word may have surpassed us in many respects but to share the fellowship that we have in Christ was awesome.  I am not a great story teller but the pictures I took could only have been inspired by God.  He obviously wants His story told in many ways so that people will come to Him and be saved.  For me this initial trip may be over but a whole new life of working for Jesus has begun.

-Jim Wanglund “Driveby Jim”

Someone Say “Helicopter!”

no need to twist my arm… saturday nite i got a chance to fly over dump up beach in a helicopter. im just sad they didnt have the harnesses, so i could hang out the side. maybe next time. what you cant see from the picture is how big my smile was! it was so much fun! praise God!


Truly Amazing…

Before I left for the Crusade, I was reminded by Nancy to not forget to put the camera down. Being a front row witness to the power of this event gave me a perspective I haven’t experienced in any place. The Holy Spirit was definitely present and moving at this event. I spent a lot of time shooting up front, but there were moments during the praise and message that I couldn’t help but stop and be in awe of God’s moving power. There were people farther than my camera could see.


During the Altar Call, I really wanted to capture the full crowd and see who would make a decision for Christ. But, when the time to raise your hands and make a decision came, I was so overwhelmed by the sea of hands being raised – and so was our staff. We couldn’t have enough people to counsel the number of people that raised their hands. I was one of the few people that, because I had a camera, was directly in front of the stage. There was definitely a huge need. God said, it’s time to put your camera down. I scrambled for pens and dedication sheets. I tried to help as many people as I could. Praise God. The Crusade was moving so fast I could barely process it. But, looking back the power of God was so strong and sweeping, it broke and exceeded any expectations that anyone there could have had. Truly amazing.



go to www.milesahead.tv for videos and pics from last night

Inspiring Words

We all have different talents that God has given us. How we use them is what is most important. Whether you are a worship singer, into extreme stunts, or a photographer like myself, how you use those talents to further God’s message is crucial to further your walk with Jesus. Seeing and capturing the moments from the MACJAM was very special to me and it shows that no matter what your talent is, it can be used to further the Word. Normally what usually strikes me the most about events like this is the worship music. I usually can’t get enough of the loud concert music, especially with a backstage pass. 🙂 This time though it was the skateboarders that did it for me. Not only were they great at what they like to do but also were very articulate about spreading the Word. Seeing them bring people forward for Altar Call was truly inspiring.

driveby jim

go to www.mileshead.tv for video and pics from last night

AWE Full

its 7am mobay time, and as i think about last nite, the first words that came to mind to describe the evening at dump up beach was AWE Full!

first, God really hooked us up w the weather! it had rained off and on the last 2 days, and there were reports that it was raining in kingston already. so everyone was praying for good weather, including me, but there was also the understanding that God was in control…last weekends events in mandeville, saw over 30 thousand people come to the 2 day event there, it rained both days!

i spent most of the evening looking out from the stage, as the evening went on and the bands began to play, the crowd filled in and seem to go all the way to the back of dump up beach. by the time miles came up to share about the free gift of life in Christ, there were people as far as you could see, and they were all lined up along the fence surrounding the beach. it was truly an amazing sight, totally different than other crusades ive been part of. in the end, what matters is Christ. when miles asked those who wanted to accept Christ, and receive the free gift of life by faith, there were hands up everywhere! it looked like each counselor was with 5 or 10 folks, so many that it was hard for the counselors to get to them all because the crowd was so packed. too many folks coming to Christ and wanting to know what to do next is a good thing i reckon.

anyway, i will have pics up soon, in the meantime yall can go to www.milesahead.tv to see video and pics from last night.

blessed mon.


All I Have…



We haven’t even started serving yet and I felt like God has shown me so much. Today, our entire group was divided up and went to experience church at 8 different places in Jamaica.  I tagged along with the Children’s Ministry group and went to a church called The Meeting Place.  I have never experienced church this way before and for me it was more than just an eye opening experience – it was almost overwhelming.  The service lasted for about two and half hours and for 90 minutes we worshiped – that’s right – more than the length of time we spend at an entire service back home, we spent worshiping God.  But, that wasn’t the reason why going to church here moved me.  What overwhelmed me was the presence of the Holy Spirit in this worship.  The regular attendees of this church felt free and so happy to praise – it was more than just raising your hands and clapping.  Voices were at their highest the entire time, people felt that they could dance, and if so moved, people came up to the altar just to fall to their knees in worship.


Worship and the way that I express it to God has always been somewhat of a growing experience in and of itself.  When I first came to Christian church, clapping was as far as I could get for me to tell God thank you for every single blessing He has ever poured out to me… wow.  Then I eventually moved from the alligator arms, to a full surrender – with my entire musically illiterate voice…  My worshiping of God, I felt, has been growing so much and has been really good.  But, to come to this space and realize that church for the people of Jamaica (I hear that almost all the services were similar at the other churches) experience their worship like this on a regular basis?! Let’s just say that it makes me feel like I haven’t even begun worshiping God with my full self.  Experiencing church here is showing me that in my worship – God is asking me for all I have, not just my voice or my arms, but all I have…


This picture was actually captured during our group worship times in the evening in our meeting room.  For me, seeing people worship in all different ways has helped me gain so much more understanding of what worshiping God can be.  Falling to my knees and humbling myself before God or closing my eyes and lifting my hands, God is as really asking me to give Him all that I have.  And given the blessings He endlessly pours out to me, that really isn’t too much to ask.




The Arrival…



The flight felt like it lasted forever.  In total it was about 13 hours with the layover in Newark (or something like that), but I think the cold that I was carrying into it made it feel longer…  The best part of the long trip though, was the fellowship.  I came on this trip essentially knowing my fiancé and maybe a small handful of others… In the airport, on the plane, and everything in between – Vaness and I got to know a whole bunch of different people from the church.  For me, starting the trip that way, was a blessing.


Speaking of meeting people, the people of Jamaica are beyond anything that the word hospitable describes.  Very giving and humble, each person that we met in Jamaica on our way to the hotel greeted us with an impressionable personality.  It was the type of encounter that made you want to know more about who they were.  Back home, we often brush shoulders with people and we don’t even think about it.  This picture was taken of the one and only guy assigned to help us load our luggage on the bus.  I put my luggage down and stopped.  I felt a bit awkward that he was loading nearly 80 people’s bags on to the bus by himself.  I offered to help and grabbed a bag to put in the bus, then the driver stopped me and said, “It’s okay mon, no worries, let him do it.”  He continued on, pouring with sweat in the hot and humid air serving our group.  He had a quiet way about him, but you could tell he had a servant’s heart. 


From the moment of the arrival of our group – God showed us the type of people we ourselves were going to serve – beautiful, humble, and hospitable.  The entire journey thus far had been full of amazing people – and we haven’t even started yet…




Blessed Are the Flexible…


My main assignment today was to follow the Sports Ministry as they went to Herbert Morrison Technical High School and capture workshops and a Soccer match.  This particular school was a much anticipated place of ministry for the Sports team.  You can just see the excitement and look of anticipation in their eyes.  As we waited in the lobby to meet the players and the students of the school, the Sports team spent their time passing out the Best Dressed 50 Fest fliers.  This was a very productive time for the team, but some news was about to come their way that was gonna test the first rule for all Missionaries – Blessed are the Flexible.  As it turns out, there was a miscommunication with the school and long story short – there was going to be no meeting, no match, no workshops, nothing.  From that point – we knew it has to be in God’s hands…


I noticed that our driver is playing Christian music throughout the whole ride.  When we prayed together, he joined our group in prayer.  Apparently, our bus driver has a son that attends Barracks Road Primary School, a school that was not on the list of places that we were going to visit this week.  He offered to take us over there to see if the Sports team could take their ministry there, join them, and work with the students.  Being the only real option (the other was to go back to the hotel) we drove over and the administration welcomed us in!  As we arrived we were greeted by some of the most energetic and sweetest kids you could ever meet.  We ended up catching them right as they were going to begin their daily devotional and were blessed enough to sing and pray with the entire school.  From that point, the team split to visit classrooms and many of them began to talk to students individually, sharing with them their stories and in numerous cases, sharing how to have a relationship with Jesus with these kids.  Amazing.  I was able to capture so many pictures of these moments – God was showing me so much through this experience.  But, one picture captures the theme of the day and the activities that the team and the kids shared, all in one.


This picture was of the soccer field that the kids play on every day.  Only one goal on one side, huge rocks everywhere, uneven ground, trash, hills, and these two large concrete slabs directly in the middle of what was their field.  Blessed are the flexible indeed.  They played on this field because it was their home – and loved every minute of it.  All these little bumps in the road just added character to them.  You truly did have to work with what was given to you, but in the end they were still able to play the game and have an amazing time doing it.  The Sports team and the kids ended up playing a very competitive and fun game.  This time was filled with so many smiles, so much interaction, and such an amazing blessing.  From there, the team joined the other half of the sports team for another set of workshops and games at another school – also very amazing.


God is so good, so amazing, and… so in control.  Blessed are the flexible – and besides – it’s all God’s plan anyways right?




Christmas in April

Christmas in April is a great description of why we are in Jamaica.  Check out the entry on milesahead.tv,


As im listening to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Vince Guaraldi,  it’s 77 outside with 94% humidity, and thats at 1:30am MoBay time.  Daniel, Jim and I are working away at 3 different computers editing pics from the days shoots.  Tonight we looked at more pics than i can count, posted several new blog entries and moved some of today’s pics to Flickr.  It all couldn’t have happened without the team of photographers God has brought to the Rock, a gift in itself. 

This blog was an idea we’ve had for some time now,  but it wasn’t till God brought Trevor back to the Rock, with his new bride, that we were able to get this thing going.  Thanks again Trevor for helping us get the blog going.  Along with drive-by and jet li (Daniel), Brittany is making her debut with us in Jamaica, another gift.  I’ve talked with Brittany several times over the years about helping take pics with the Rock Photographers, i guess she decided to wait for a big stage to start shooting for us.  Welcome.

Along with these new folks, Alex and Liza are here shooting as well.    It would have been great to have the whole team here, maybe next time.  



Flankers Security Guard


Working at Flankers Elementary and Junior High School the past two days has been amazing.  It is evident that God is working all around us. 


The security guard for the school has introduced himself to several people on the community projects team.  He has his own small security building at the entrance of the school’s campus and has asked us numerous times if we would paint his “shack”.  Today were able to accomplish this.  We painted the building pink and decided to do a small mural on the side of the building inspired by the Jesus hat he was wearing. The man was so thankful for our service, and we were blessed to be able to give this act of service to a fellow brother in Christ.  We pray for his continued service in keeping Flankers school secure. 



Brittany Sandoli

Medical Team Bus Loading


Medical Team Bus Loading


Day 1 – I’m Jim Wanglund and recently joined the Rock Photographers.  Originally I had planned on working on the community projects mural team but God decided to lead me to work with my hobby and passion for photography.   Thanks to God and the leadership team especially Brother Joe and Kevin Loomis for showing me the way and supporting me in pursuing what God was calling me to do.  To think a few short years ago I wouldn’t have even thought of volunteering for something as selfless as a mission trip.  Now I have a way to do something I enjoy as well as serve the Lord. 


There is nothing like capturing a moment that can show the emotion of an event.  I have always been into landscape photography but people have become my new interest.  Getting that point in time where someone was lending a helping hand, listening to someone who is troubled or preaching the Word is exciting and gives me my place in God’s design.  We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences but when we come together to help others in Jesus’ name, all of the differences fade away in the light of Him.  Fear of the unknown fades when we walk the path that God has chosen for us.  He has known long before we were born what we would do in this world to ready us for the next. 


Getting others to see the light of faith in Jesus through others good works is what I’m about and even though I may not always get the story behind an image sometimes the image will speak for itself.  Helping others in the name of Jesus is my passion that I hope to convey to you through my photos.  I am not a street evangelist, a community projects leader, or part of the children’s ministry but through the passion of others and my photography I hope to tell a story of the power of Christ.  Please pray for those that are lost and if you are lost please listen to God as he is always trying to talk to you in some way.  Maybe one of my photos or someone’s works in the picture might be that turning point for you.  Seeking Him out in your heart will make you feel things that you never thought possible.  It will change you as a person forever. 


 May God Bless You,   

 Jim, a.k.a. drive-by, is used to shooting trees, mountains and small defenseless animals in the wilderness.  God has brought him to the team and is a welcome edition to the Rock Photographers.  






Back Row View

Thank you Jesus!

It’s actually Sunday evening, and I’m already tired. I know how much work it’s gonna be, and perhaps I’m just preparing myself for the whirlwind of activity that’s to come…as I sit and type this out, I am reminded of the things God has shown me already. He reminds me in the middle of being frustrated and even discouraged right now. Why? It doesn’t matter really, it’s just something the enemy does and if not for God’s Grace and His provision in times like this, I’d be on a slow boat to SD. I traveled with Nikki to Montego Bay, just the 2 of us from SD, because because…No worries, the important thing is what God showed me along the way.


The picture is of Nikki and Holly, a fellow traveler on the road to MB. Holly was in the row in front of me, seated between her mother and Nikki. As we approached MB and could see the beautiful water and then land, Holly kept moving over to sit with Nikki in order to look out the window at the sights below us. I saw the 2 of them and could hear them talk about what they were viewing… always ready, I started shooting what I saw in front of me. It took a few shots to get this image, since they were talking to each other and looking out the window repeatedly. But I got my shot.


It is a simple reminder from God, and a lesson I’m just now realizing…that God has so much to show me of His beautiful creation, and I just need to sit in His lap, and wait for Him to show me what’s truly important in life. Then, when He says “look,” I will be ready to see what God is showing me. And perhaps if it’s something He wants me to share, only then will I take the picture for the world to see. The beauty of photography is that what moves me, might not affect you, and what one person considers an ordinary picture, can truly encourage many, when explained in the context of God. Jim has a quote he attaches to his emails that I feel is very appropriate here…Something about the 12 inches behind the camera that makes a good picture, attributed to Ansel Adams. But the more profound statement (in my humble opinion) is from Jim…The camera, the 12 inches behind the camera…..it all means nothing without the  One who created it all.


This ultimately is our mission as photographers. To document through photography, what God is doing in our midst today, whether it be 1 row in front of us, in Jamaica, or in your backyard…that God might be glorified in our work.


John 3, verse 21 says “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through Christ.



This is our goal, to bring to light what God is doing, that the world may see plainly, obviously, without a hint of doubt, that what we are doing is because of Christ.  What I am doing, is because of Christ.


Thank you Jesus for the privilege of having a back row view of the show, it truly is amazing!