IMM uses MEDIA to Plants Churches

IMM uses MEDIA to Plants Churches

Often we think of MEDIA in churches as a way to help the Praise and Worship leader get the congregation to sing all the correct words of the worship song, perhaps a chance for the youth pastor to exhibit how “hip and with it“ they are with the meme culture, or a way to show a funny announcement video. Even evangelistically, we tend to think in terms of hosting a film and waiting for people to show up to have a “heart response“. These are the basic thoughts of how media is used in churches currently.  

Is that the only type of media IMM can offer? 

Does IMM offer ways for you to stop waiting for people to come to you? 

Maybe we can find ways for you to meet and engage people where they are?

There is no denying how effective the Jesus type films have been, but is that all there is for helping plant churches around the world? I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of a man or woman in the Northern African region for example. How effective do you imagine it would be to hear a Christian film, not dubbed, but actually in your native tongue and dialect? Maybe even someone narrating the video that looks and talks like you do. Maybe that is what it takes to pique your interest to investigate online, or connect with someone locally, and in doing so you encounter the love of Jesus.

What could be done with a whole congregation trained on how to use their phones to spread the gospel amid a generation prone to using their phones to tear down, project hate, and vitriol against others?

Maybe as a church planter you are attempting to reach out to a people group that has specific needs, IMM may be able to help with that. 

Here are a few quotes to think about: 

"...we must be the church to each other—to listen, befriend, invite....change doesn’t happen after facts are put forward; it happens in the warm context of community…“ Mary DeMuth (Author)

 How can IMM help with that?

“IMM provides resources and tools for planters to reach target people groups…like conversation starter videos that engage viewers about life issues.“ Henry Marsh (IMM Distribution Coordinator)

“IMM has a Mobile Media Training to draw people to a new church plant…helping lay people with the purposes of outreach to engage the culture around them.“ Denise Godwin (IMM President)

In a field ripe for the harvest, maybe it is time to use new tools to engage the current culture. IMM has been ahead of the curve for 20 years now, helping innovative congregations develop ways to sow the gospel, and now how to harvest what was sown by finding new ways to put Jesus on every screen!

      As I sit at my kitchen table in the stillness of late evening, my kids finally asleep and the heat of the day broken by a gentle cool breeze through the window, my mind returns to a recent moment captured in time - a moment of decision, a recommitment to the call that I first responded to as a young twenty-year old, a call to go where God wanted me to go, to do what He wanted me to do.   The decision at forty-something looked and felt so very different from the one I made at twenty. At twenty, my heart bubbling over with the excitement of the adventure ahead, I was giddy with the knowledge that God had chosen me, had trusted me with an impossible task. This time though, the decision was weightier, colored by an awareness of the cost, and an appreciation for the difficulties that invariably lay ahead. Yet, in the end, my feet inexorably carried me to the front of the auditorium to place my commitment card at the altar. Why? It is a question I have asked myself recently, as we have started over in a new country, learning a new language and culture - this time with two toddlers in tow. The answer, however, remains the same as over twenty years ago when I was a young, naïve, and inexperienced twenty-year old– it is because there are still those who are lost without knowledge of our Savior, Jesus. There are those who suffer, who are lonely, distressed, widowed, orphaned, and abandoned. Others feel hopeless, are trapped in their sins, and see no way out. I have knowledge that they need! God has entrusted me with the Gospel, the good news of His son!   So, here we are, serving God in Spain alongside the IMM team, striving to put Jesus on every screen. What an impossible task, but what a big God we serve! Together, we can ensure that people hear the good news and receive the hope that only Jesus can give.   Are you with us?

As I sit at my kitchen table in the stillness of late evening, my kids finally asleep and the heat of the day broken by a gentle cool breeze through the window, my mind returns to a recent moment captured in time - a moment of decision, a recommitment to the call that I first responded to as a young twenty-year old, a call to go where God wanted me to go, to do what He wanted me to do. 

The decision at forty-something looked and felt so very different from the one I made at twenty. At twenty, my heart bubbling over with the excitement of the adventure ahead, I was giddy with the knowledge that God had chosen me, had trusted me with an impossible task. This time though, the decision was weightier, colored by an awareness of the cost, and an appreciation for the difficulties that invariably lay ahead. Yet, in the end, my feet inexorably carried me to the front of the auditorium to place my commitment card at the altar. Why? It is a question I have asked myself recently, as we have started over in a new country, learning a new language and culture - this time with two toddlers in tow. The answer, however, remains the same as over twenty years ago when I was a young, naïve, and inexperienced twenty-year old– it is because there are still those who are lost without knowledge of our Savior, Jesus. There are those who suffer, who are lonely, distressed, widowed, orphaned, and abandoned. Others feel hopeless, are trapped in their sins, and see no way out. I have knowledge that they need! God has entrusted me with the Gospel, the good news of His son!

So, here we are, serving God in Spain alongside the IMM team, striving to put Jesus on every screen. What an impossible task, but what a big God we serve! Together, we can ensure that people hear the good news and receive the hope that only Jesus can give. Are you with us?

August Nights

August Nights

Sometimes, the wind picks up at night during the summer. The hot air of the Spanish mesa flees with the sun, and cooler temps rush in. I can get up from bed, look out the open window, and see the treetops swirling. I gather the curtains back inside from their wild flapping and pick up important papers that have blown across the floor and down the hallway. I re-position the fan blowing in our bedroom so it doesn’t fight the wind, and lay back down.

I’ll admit that when I’m lying awake during these cool evenings, I enjoy doing nothing. Sometimes the solution to a video compositing challenge will pop into my head, or I’ll see a plan behind my eyelids for the construction of the next prop on my list. However, this week I’ve started to sweat over the looming weeks of the production scheduled for this Autumn. I start packing the cargo van, I start organizing the props and worrying over the dates on the calendar. Instead of resting, I begin a mental checklist that if not set aside, will morph into one of those dreams where I’m standing in front of my school locker, trying desperately to remember the combination in order to get to the final exam wearing nothing but my socks. Yeah, you know you’ve been there. (I may have even seen you run past me!)

In the mornings, I begin to appreciate once more that this media missions endeavor allows us to admit weakness and rely on God’s strength. The more we remember to ease our own fretting control over the uncontrollable details, inviting God back into our understanding of His project, the easier it will go for us. I learn this again and again. I’ve spent years watching the treetops swirl.

“Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.

Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.” 

~ prayer attributed to Augustine, who is featured in one of The Heritage Project stories in production at this time.


6 Amazing Tips to Find Inspiration

6 Amazing Tips to Find Inspiration

Have you ever worked on a project or had a problem that you couldn’t seem to figure out? You try and look at other places to find some sort of inspiration, but can’t seem to find any. Most of the time, inspiration doesn’t come easily. There are a few amazing tips on finding inspiration.

As a graphic designer, finding inspiration is one of the most difficult parts of being a creative. It seems that everything has already been done and repeated many times over again. When I try to find inspiration, it just doesn’t seem to be there. But, there are a few things that work for me. Here are my top 6 ways to find inspiration for your next big project.

#1 Get away from all screens!

That's right, I said it. Get away from all screens! Put away the smartphone, video games, no Netflix/Prime/Hulu etc., no computers or even TV’s. We get so focused on the screen, that we don’t allow our brains to function the way God intended. Sometimes stepping away from the screens for an hour rejuvenates us and inspires us.

#2 Grab a pencil, some paper, and start sketching.

OK, I get it. Not everyone can draw. But, doodling on a piece of paper helps use a different part of your brain that might trigger something. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Sketching is about getting an idea down on paper quickly. Maybe it will turn into something, maybe it won’t.

#3 Get out in nature.

It's amazing how much inspiration we can gather from nature. Think about creation. God created the world in 6 days. He created every shape, color, texture, movement, and the combinations of any of these put together. When we get out in nature, we are exposed to God’s creation and creativity. For me, this is a huge inspiration.

#4 Get up and get out

Exercise. It’s one of the things that nobody wants to do, but everyone should do. After all, now "they" are saying sitting is the new smoking. There is something about exercise that helps reset your brain. It gets the blood pumping, relieves stress and energizes us. It can also us help find inspiration. Here is the trick with this one… find an exercise that you think is fun. If you don't enjoy it, then chances are you won't do it. If you dread running, don’t run. Your thing might swimming, martial arts or yoga. Quick disclaimer: I hated exercising until I found a sport that I enjoy! Whatever you find to do, the more fun it is, the more likely you will naturally find inspiration.

#5 Grab a good book

OK, this one may be the worst. At least for me, it is. I hate reading. But, when I sit down with a book, there is something that makes my mind jump start. For me, when I start to concentrate on reading, my mind goes haywire. My mind floods over with thoughts about different projects that I'm working on. And sometimes, inspiration hits so that I have the answer to the problem or project.

#6 Pray

You may think this one is a joke. But, I’m serious. With the type of creative work that I do day in and day out, prayer is a vital part of the creative process. Sometimes, I’ll get stuck in a rut and can’t figure out the answer to the problem. But, when I take time to pray and reflect on God’s word, God fills my mind with solutions, ideas, and inspiration.

There you go, 6 ways to get inspired. I hope that these 6 tips will help you find the inspiration you need for your next project. Is there one that isn’t listed here that works well for you. If so, let us know in the comments below.

The Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs

Today, I want to share my take on a philosophical book that recently I’ve been enlightened to understand.  The story is called The Three Little Pigs.

We live in a world where speed is everything.  The fastest cars, the fastest hard drives, the most powerful processors – so we can get done faster and move on in life.  I would like to think that the first little pig was like that. He gathered the first thing he came across that he could build a house from, with no thought really to how it would stand up during storms.  

The second little pig was patient for a little bit but quickly got frustrated by the waiting and chose the next thing he came across.

The third little pig waited till he found the right material for his house that would stand up during storms.

Often, we tend to be like the first or second pig in a hurry to get things done, and it can sometimes come back to bite us.  Jesus says, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  The enemy is always trying to detour us and knock us off track. He uses our weaknesses like being impatient, fear, and pride these are things that will cause us to rush the perfect plan that God has for us.” (Matthew 10:16)

In today’s world, we can be in such a hurry to share the gospel, (as quickly as possible with no thought in doing it well) we miss an important element. We have to be strategic in sharing of the gospel.  IMM has been around for over thirty years. During that time relationships have been formed, and doors have opened to share the Gospel on a greater scale than we could have imagined.  Today, IMM products are being shown on three satellite channels, and we’ve been able to produce materials in many languages. 

I challenge you today to be like the third little pig.  Build those relationships. Do the hard work of building with strong materials. Then, when the wolves come around, your brick house will be able to withstand their huffs and puffs, and with God’s foundation under you, it will stand. 

Multiplying Missions

Multiplying Missions

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Missionary media is grounded in God’s very first commandment to people. In Genesis 1:28 after He created man, it says “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…’” After the fall and the descent of Adam & Eve’s descendants into sin and rebellion. God sent a flood to destroy the earth - saving only Noah and his family. It’s interesting that after the waters subsided and they left the safety of the ark, God again gives his people a command. Genesis 9:1 tells us “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’”

Clearly, from the beginning of our world, God has intended for His people to multiply in the earth. It is not a stretch to recognize that this imperative is more than numeric or biological, but also spiritual. God’s desire is that people from every tribe, nation, language, race, social status, religious background, and more know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. This continued task of multiplication embodied in the Great Commission calls us to make disciples which is another way of saying “multiply” followers of Jesus around the world. This is what global missions is all about.

Missionary media is a powerful tool for multiplication in at least three significant ways. First, it multiplies missionary reach. Modern technology gives us the potential to take the Gospel to more people in more places more quickly than ever before. It allows us to bridge geographic, cultural, religious and political borders and communicate good news to people where they are.

Missionary media also multiplies missionary resources. Developing high-quality programs and resources in ways that can be put into many languages, distributed through multiple technologies and used over and over again is good stewardship. Rather than focusing on a single act or moment of communication, at IMM we seek to create tools and content with a long shelf life and broad appeal to maximize the investment of time, energy and finances.

Doing that also means missionary media multiplies results. While our primary focus is obedience, certainly we want our efforts to be fruitful for God’s kingdom. Media is one of the most influential forces in the world today, shaping opinion and impacting virtually every segment of society. Our prayer is that the programs we make will be a creative and relevant means of communicating spiritual truth to multitudes of people. We aren’t just producing videos, we are multiplying missions by putting Jesus On Every Screen!

Holy Spirit: Signals and Wonders

Holy Spirit: Signals and Wonders

In Acts 1:8 we are promised Holy Spirit power to carry the message of what Jesus has done for us — on the cross and through His resurrection — from our neighbors and out to the ends of the earth.

WHY?

The command that we are to continue sharing Jesus’ love across the world until ALL have heard…is not finished.  It is about sharing a love so powerful that it is capable of transforming the darkest, bleakest outlook of mind, heart, soul. A transformation that is so complete that it transcends the very essence of the soul of humankind. 

It is Victor Hugo who said in Les Miserables “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.” We have the means to light up screens around the world with the gospel. We are responsible for making Jesus´ love known everywhere. Once that love is known, the people in darkness experience the transformational power of Jesus’ love. A love that is so intense, it shines through the walls of darkness and lights up their lives! However, if we do nothing, then we are contributing to the darkness.

It can be overwhelming to consider the ramifications of a global mission, but the world is getting smaller. We have the capability of bouncing signals at lighting fast speeds around the globe. We even download these signals and hold them in the palm of our hands. This makes the world seem smaller yet. A world where the population is over 7 billion people and number of cell phone users is roughly 4.68 billion in the year 2019. But in the end, who cares about numbers and statistical models.(https://www.statista.com/statistics/274774/forecast-of-mobile-phone-users-worldwide/)

Who is in your world? Your neighbor, your community, and your missionary you are sending out? What we need to realize is that we need to better define our world and how we are serving the people in our world.

SIGNALS:

Here at IMM, we have been sent to serve those trapped in the darkness. We are doing that by preparing to launch the second season of the Heritage Project. Stories like Cyprian and Perpetua that we make into movies. HIStories designed to light up screens and lift up the name of Jesus. These movie projects are converted into signals. These signals are sent around the globe. Across networks of satellites, computers, and cell phones.

Ever hear of the story of the martyr Cyprian?

SPOILER ALERT…he dies.

Cyprian served the people around him. Even in a time when the people in his neighborhood were hiding behind their walls. He refused to deny Christ and was used by the Holy Spirit to give his life as a witness. In doing that, he proclaimed the love of Jesus Christ to his section of the world. 

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That is why we are here at IMM. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the love of Jesus on EVERY SCREEN. Even though not all our neighbors are across the street. They may be thousands of miles away. Hidden behind the invisible walls of fearful religious and political ideologies. Living in places where missionaries are not allowed to go beyond those walls. But there is good news, the signals that we are sending out to light up screens around the world carry the love of Jesus in them. They are empowered by the Holy Spirit and speak into the lives of people, setting them free. Even when walls that have been put to trap them in darkness. We are willing to give our lives, so that the SIGNALS are heard and seen around the world.

WONDER:

But I am left to wonder…how about you?

Are you willing to help us do what it takes to fulfill Acts 1:8?



Arrested and Tortured

Arrested and Tortured

Imagine being arrested and tortured. Imagine being told, “Deny your faith, and deny Christ, or we will kill you!” It’s a real scenario for many today in regions where International Media Ministries is working with media partners to share the Gospel.

The Impact of a Worker

The Impact of a Worker

Ragna and Christopher Gornold-Smith with actors in costumes sewn by Ragna.

This week our team at IMM was met with some bittersweet news. Our dear friend and sister in Christ, Ragna Gornold-Smith, went to be with our Lord on July 1, 2019. While not all of us were able to know her personally, we are well aware of the impact that Ragna has had on us and hundreds of other people. 

Ragna and her husband, Christopher, have helped create most of the costumes and pieces that IMM has used in our history-based videos. Ragna worked tirelessly to make sure that every costume she worked on was done with excellence. At one time, she showed our leader Denise a costume that she had hand stitched. When asked why she didn’t just machine sew the piece since no one would be able to see the difference, Ragna replied, “I would know and Jesus would. I’m doing it for him.” Her meticulous and precise work has been worn by many different actors who did not realize the amount of love, work, and prayer that went into making what they wore. 

Ragna is a model that we should all aspire to be like. After years of hard work, she has finally received her crown of glory. Her work was impeccable even when no one else would have noticed. In the same way, we too should work with diligence, even in the small things. We may not always be aware of the impact that we have on people. Our duty as Christians is to work with the same dedication that Ragna did so that one day we too might be welcomed into Heaven with those words well done good and faithful servant. 

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31


We are Warriors

We are Warriors


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again. Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

It is not a long stretch to relate missions to the military life. Military mottos, taken from around the world, can apply and fit our passion: “To Liberate the Oppressed.” “Who Dares, Wins.” “So Others May Live.” “Always Dominate the Heights.” “By Strength and Guile.” And my unofficial favorite, “When circumstance closes a door, breach the wall and walk in like a Boss.”

What media production day does not demand strategy, planning, and endurance? 

We are encouraged by fellow believers who tell us we are “elite” and on the “front lines.” We are treated like heroes in Missions conventions. These are good things, as they fortify us as we strive to accomplish the expectations and live up to the ideals of the title. But consider these two quotes for a little bit of levity: 

“There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys (and girls), it is all hell” ~ General William Tecumseh Sherman

"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." ~ General Napoleon Bonaparte

“Build me a son, Oh Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.” ~ General Douglas MacArthur

I have found that saying “Yes” to God’s call to serve in missions has led me to some strange proving grounds. Crawling under barbed-wire in the mud with live rounds above you? I could find a missionary metaphor for that, and other things, like running up hills till you want to throw up breakfast and eating bugs for lunch. See how it fits? However, what has shocked me is how God reaches way, way back into our lives and salvages the skills we would choose to forget, skills we learned living in a broken world in a broken system. 

What is that terrible skill you have? I learned at a young age to walk quietly and steadily through emotionally overloaded environments, maybe not seeing God in the situation, but knowing He had my back. I also learned perseverance while carrying a full pack through a religious swamp of conditional love, and refusing to give up because the God who slogged with me never left.

Let us not despise the days of our youth, but see God’s hand in our strivings, salvaging our earlier testings and conditioning our spirits for the days when we have to breach the walls for the Kingdom of God and set the captives free.

I leave you with one more quote for all of you media-minded sorts:

“Karate is a form of martial arts in which people who have had years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world.” ~ Dave Barry

School's Out, School's In

School's Out, School's In

June here in Spain means that kids are getting out of school and enjoying the hot weather.  Our team, too, is just getting warmed up. Two weeks ago, our team hosted a workshop dealing with mobile media.  Over twenty missionaries and church workers spent the day with us.  We were surprised and humbled at the response of those who wanted to come learn. Here are three reasons why I think they showed up.

First, our friends care a lot about spreading the Gospel. They are hoping to talk to people they haven’t before. They are looking for tools and ways to communicate with people in ways they haven’t before. 

Another reason our colleagues came is that they believe mobile technology to be viable and powerful.  Everywhere in the world, people can be found with a mobile device.  Even in places where only solar power can charge their phone, humans are looking to connect with each other. Our friends know that everyone with whom they want to share the Gospel is carrying a mobile device of some kind.

They also know we can learn from each other. Sometimes I feel that we fail to share what we know because we don’t know every detail or don’t consider ourselves experts.  Getting a group together as we did helps us to know what questions are being asked to inform what things we need to brush up on. The students in our workshops don’t expect to us to be know-it-alls, but they know that together we can solve some challenges.

Our team is already talking about what workshop to do next.  We are also looking at re-creating curriculum in Spanish very soon.  School might be out, but we’re all still learning.