By Kristina Penny
We started our new ministry endeavor kneeling in the pastor’s office. It wasn’t for special prayer or Bible study—it was a film shoot.
We’d arranged the office to look like a typical living room. Lee knelt in front of his Bible, reenacting his incredible testimony of turning from idol worship to a relationship with God.
I knelt behind the camera,
fine-tuning. I was thrilled to volunteer my professional skills for my local church, Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, United States.
The My Story project started when Joseph Khabbaz, Sligo’s youth and young adult pastor, shared his vision with me. I’ll admit that I was surprised that he understood the need to create quality films, and the investment it would take.
“I strongly believe it’s important for the creatives in our church to know they have a place here,” says Khabbaz. “YouTube is filled with beautifully crafted cinematography. Why can’t the church create stories of eternal significance at the same level of excellence?”
Lee Escobar told me that at first he was nervous about being on camera. He felt ashamed, or that people wouldn’t believe his story.
“But it looked legit and so real,” he said after the film
screened in a church service. “It was a blessing for others to realize God doesn’t forsake those who seek Him!”
“There are many stories that need to be told by those who don’t consider themselves storytellers,” explains
Richard Castillo, Sligo’s pastor for media and outreach. “The production, music, and editing compel the listener
to continue listening well past their attention span.”
“We live in a world where social media allows us to display our perfect ‘edited’ selves,” says Khabbaz. “Young adults see through the facade and desire authenticity. The videos we create tell the stories of young adults willing to be vulnerable to show the power of God at work in their lives.”
The My Story films are posted online, but I’ve also seen their impact in my local church as young adults create relationships with those featured in the videos and share a walk with God together.
“Whether you’re in the public sector or the church, the need to be compelling in your message doesn’t change,” says Castillo. “We’re selling the idea that a life lived with Christ is better than without. Quality matters.”
He adds that one can start with simple camera work, good lighting, and excellent interview questions. Our project started with just a few pieces of equipment. But after screening our videos at a local conference, we won funding to build upon our growing ministry.
Kristina Penny is video producer for Adventist Review Ministries.