Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Picture's Worth (Part One)

This week 6:8 Ministries hosted the Celebration Sub30 team and I had the privilege of being able to help lead them with Amanda, Brian, and Dan. Although it was a quick four day venture, God accomplished great things in and through this group. Their trip consisted mostly of children’s ministry, where in we would go to different communities and play with the kids there. While this doesn’t seem like a “typical” way to share the Gospel, it means so much to the local youth. Most of them grow up in homes where either one or both parents are addicted to drugs and alcohol. They have absent fathers and mothers who sell themselves to put food on the table. Some even live with family who abuse them physically and sexually. Simply going to color, draw with sidewalk chalk, play soccer, blow bubbles, and jump rope speaks volumes. Offering love through hugs and holding hands is significant because in most cases they don’t have anyone to show them affection.

One day in particular we went to a neighborhood the ministry just recently started working in called New Millennium. It’s one of the most impoverished communities in Alajuelita and among the roughest. On the way there, one of the girls from the team asked me to hold a photo to take with us. It was of Jessica (who had previously been to Costa) and a little boy named Kevin, she hoped to deliver it to him if we happened to find him. While praying for a family in the area, two kids noticed the picture in my hands, immediately recognizing him and pointing it out. When I asked where he was or if he lived there, however, I was given no response and let it go.

Flash forward an hour, the team and staff are interacting with kids and I hear someone call a little boy Kevin. I waved him over to see if he was the one in the photo, pulling it from my purse. The moment he saw himself in it, he began grinning and laughing happily, then promptly snatched it out of my hands. While he quickly ran off and away my only thought was “ What have I done? I just made the biggest rookie mistake possible. I’m an idiot. The end.” As the group and I walked up to him, though, I realized this was the opposite of the truth. God turned a potential crisis into a moment of joy, for both Kevin and the team. We found him sitting on the sidewalk smiling at the picture in his hands and staring in amazement.

In Costa Rica, you rarely find individuals with photos of themselves. Most only receive them for special occasions such as first communion and other significant life events. So it’s completely possible that this was the first picture of himself he’d seen, let alone been given, at least at his current age. It was amazing to witness his reaction, to know how much of an impact something as simple as a photograph can have. It was a small piece of paper, a tiny sentiment, but the fact that it was his to keep meant more than even I understood.

As a photographer, this experience spoke to me and taught me a lesson I won’t soon forget. As a follower of Jesus, it convicted me to walk in the calling I’ve been given and use the talent God has placed in me for his glory.  I hope to use my art form in a way that brings hope and speaks truth, by observing the reality of what goes on here and capturing it for others to see. Kevin has inspired me to find more ways to use my passion for photography during my time here and to bless others through my camera, whatever that might look like.

Here's Kevin holding his photo. Before we left, he told us he planned to hang it on his bedroom wall.  How adorably sweet is that?

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