Tag Archives: infrared travel photography

The April 2017 Show And Tell

It is virtually impossible to not be greatly affected by your surroundings and culture in your worldview. It’s also virtually impossible to understand other cultures without a frame of reference. It’s hard to obtain a frame of reference without actually going, but the next best thing is pictures and video. So consider this blog to be my best attempt to provide a frame of reference. I’ve been back from Ethiopia for about three weeks now. Frequently after a trip, I pause my pontificating for a bit and just post pictures. There are unfortunately a lot of pictures I can’t show. However, here are a number of pictures from places we went and the people we met on the street. More later. Enjoy.

Our frequent server of coffee and good food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A camel train going down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial shot of farms and villages East of Addis Ababa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman in the butcher shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man in thought on the street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A night scene in Dire Dawa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An immense tree in the ancient city of Harar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable sellers in Harar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids outside the hotel in Dire Dawa. Most, I believe, were professional beggars sent out by their parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mountains of eastern Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even the goats chew Qat here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The desert between Harar and Dire Dawa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Africa Everybody Has Seen And The Other Africa.

As I was thinking about all the posts I’ve done about Africa, photography, and missions. I’ve done posts on the people I’ve met and the broader concepts of all things related to Africa, but I’ve never published a post about the landscape of Africa. When people think of Africa, they usually think of herds of animals on the grasslands with the occasional Acacia tree breaking up the horizon. Sure, there’s that aspect of Africa, but there is so much more to it than that. There are jungles, scrublands, deserts, big cities, mountains, even glaciers. Today I decided to feature some of the landscapes I’ve seen on my travels in East Africa. These are all from South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya, so you can imaging all there is to see in the other fifty or so counties. I’ve specifically tried to exclude people from these shots to focus on the landscapes, but there are some. Let these give you a sense of place, and please enjoy them. All can be clicked on for a larger view.

tea plantation on the slopes of Mt Kenya, Kenya
tea plantation on the slopes of Mt Kenya, Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

View of Juba, South Sudan from the top of Jebel Kujur
View of Juba, South Sudan from the top of Jebel Kujur

 

 

 

 

 

 

orange glow of sunrise over the Ethiopian highlands
orange glow of sunrise over the Ethiopian highlands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

giraffe grazing with the skyline of Nairobi, Kenya in background
giraffe grazing with the skyline of Nairobi, Kenya in background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kibera, the largest slum in Africa and the third largest in the world.
Kibera, the largest slum in Africa and the third largest in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dry landscape and mountains of eastern Ethiopia near Somalia
dry landscape and mountains of eastern Ethiopia near Somalia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

180 degree panorama of Nairobi Kenya taken from rooftop.
180 degree panorama of Nairobi Kenya taken from rooftop.

 

 

 

 

 

aerial view of village in south sudan
aerial view of village in south sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

village and livestock along the white nile in South Sudan
village and livestock along the white nile in South Sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunrise and acacia tree in Africa, (the cliche Africa shot)
Sunrise and acacia tree in Africa, (the cliche Africa shot)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lush waterfall in the cloud forest on Mount Kenya, Africa
lush waterfall in the cloud forest on Mount Kenya, Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

street scene in Juba, capital of South Sudan
street scene in Juba, capital of South Sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

village with grassfire in background, South Sudan
village with grassfire in background, South Sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wide panorama of mount Kenya at dawn. Mt Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa at over 17,000 feet.
wide panorama of mount Kenya at dawn. Mt Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa at over 17,000 feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

aerial view of Juba, South Sudan and the white nile river
aerial view of Juba, South Sudan and the white nile river

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hyenas at dawn in Kenya
Hyenas at dawn in Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

low aerial panorama of Juba, South Sudan
low aerial panorama of Juba, South Sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

patchwork of farms in Ethiopian highlands
patchwork of farms in Ethiopian highlands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bor, South Sudan at night with star trails
Bor, South Sudan at night with star trails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial panorama of the downtown area of Nairobi, Kenya
Aerial panorama of the downtown area of Nairobi, Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

Roundabout in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with light streaks from time exposure
Roundabout in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with light streaks from time exposure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juba, capital of South Sudan at night
Juba, capital of South Sudan at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wild impala in forest in Kenya
wild impala in forest in Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethiopian Orthodox church backlit by morning sun rays in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Orthodox church backlit by morning sun rays in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

aerial view of nile river and town in south sudan along the Juba-Bor road.
aerial view of nile river and town in south sudan along the Juba-Bor road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tank along the road between Torit and Juba, South Sudan
Tank along the road between Torit and Juba, South Sudan

 

 

 

 

The elephants at the Castle Forest Lodge in Kenya
The elephants at the Castle Forest Lodge in Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sudd, where the Nile spill outside its banks to form one of the worlds largest wetlands in South Sudan.
The Sudd, where the Nile spill outside its banks to form one of the worlds largest wetlands in South Sudan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixing Up My Equipment List

On my first four trips to Africa, I carried what in my mind would be the most pragmatic list of photography equipment I could think of. I had a Canon 5D Mk 2 camera body, an external flash, and three lenses, ranging in focal length from 24 to 270 millimeters, (including my extender). I had a 24-70 2.8 Canon L-series lens, a 70-200 f-4 Canon L series lens, and a cheap 50mm f 1.8 lens in case I had a low light situation. I was taking good equipment, so on paper it all made sense that using good glass and covering a wide variety of focal lengths, I should be able to get great pictures.

Practice was different though. As I would look through my pictures afterward, I found that I tended to like a lot of what I got with the 70-200, and hardly anything with the 24-70 lens. I also found that I hardly ever used the 50mm, and out of thousands of pictures I took, I only used the flash perhaps 20 times.

This year I changed things up. Since I rarely liked what I got with the 24-70, and it was my heaviest lens, I gave up the flexibility of a zoom, and left it home. I still carried my 70-200, but for my other lens choices, I changed over to fast prime lenses. For those who don’t know what a fast prime lens is, it’s a non-zoom lens with a very wide maximum aperture. In other words, it lets in a lot of light. The other effect of this is that if shot wide open, these lenses have a very shallow depth of field, so only a sliver of the picture is in focus. This is what I was looking for. We see in stereo, and since each of our eyes sees from a slightly different angle, we’re able to separate the subject from the background.  In photography we don’t have that option. We see from only one angle, (through the lens) so we separate our subject from the background through the use of selective focus. Using fast prime lenses gave me more latitude with which to do this than with zoom lenses. I’m a snob about sharp pictures, and prime lenses also tend to be much sharper than zooms.

The two prime lenses I chose were Canon’s 135 mm f2 lens for longer, portrait shots, and Sigma’s new 35 mm f1.4 lens, for wider environmental shots. Both lenses are incredible, but the latter has been particularly so. There’s a slight amount of distortion between close and far due to the wideness of it, but it also allows me to blur out the background, a rarity in lenses this wide. The effect is almost three dimensional, as if the subject has been cut out and placed on the background. I found that even though I brought my 70-200 along with me, and this had more flexibility in a given situation, I spent most of the time using the two primes, even though it was harder to compose the shot. The result was that I got a lot of shots from my most recent trip to Ethiopia that I am extremely happy with. The only time I missed the 24-70 was when I was trying to get a large group shot, and my 35 mm just wasn’t wide enough. Other than that, I never once missed it. Following, I have several examples of the use of the 135mm and the 35mm lenses. Notice the difference in the character of the two lenses. All can be clicked on for a larger view.

My subject, shot with the 135mm lens at f-2 aperture.
My subject, shot with the 135mm lens at f-2 aperture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The same subject shot with the 35 mm lens at f1.6 aperture. Notice how the subject appears to be pasted onto the background.
The same subject shot with the 35 mm lens at f1.6 aperture. Notice how the subject appears to be pasted onto the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A closer shot with the 35mm, wide open at f1.4. Notice the almost three dimensional look to it.
A closer shot with the 35mm, wide open at f1.4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another shot taken with the 135 mm lens at wide open at f-2.
Another shot taken with the 135 mm lens at wide open at f-2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One last environmental portrait taken with the Sigma 35 mm.
One last environmental portrait taken with the Sigma 35 mm.

Not Seeing Yourself For a Very Long Time

Part of what I enjoyed so much about Ethiopia was that it was safe enough to leave the house where I was staying, and just get out to explore or go for a run. After getting my bearings I never really felt like security was an issue. This allowed me to get out into the village and the countryside on occasion when I wasn’t otherwise engaged.

One late evening, I saw that the light was going to be beautiful, so I headed out into the countryside with the other photographer. We hadn’t yet attracted the entourage of children that normally and inevitably gathered around us, ruining any chances to be inconspicuous. As we reached the crest of a hill, there was a beautiful old woman forming a basket from rolled grass, so we stopped to look at what she was doing, and of course, take her picture.

ethiopia-4363
The old woman we met.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As in many cases, after I take someone’s picture, I will show it to them on the back of my camera, but this time I got a reaction I’ve never had before. As she looked at her face on the screen, she began to touch her face. It was clear that she didn’t know what she looked like, and it had been a very long time, if ever, that she had seen her face. I am certain she was unaware of how old she really was. She was beautiful to me, but I’m not certain what her thoughts were about that.  I seriously hoped I hadn’t ruined her day.

I’ve been thinking about this encounter for the last week and a half since I met her. The story in itself was enough to tell about, but it made me think of the book of James, where it says, “You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. 23 Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. 24 They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. 25 But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.”

Until that day, I’d never met anyone who didn’t know what they look like. I hear people say all the time, just follow your heart, do what feels right. I think that’s terrible advice. Following your heart and doing what feels right is probably what gets people into trouble more than anything else. The book of Proverbs says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” The path to God has to come from God Himself and from his word, both of which are outside of ourselves. The analogy of the mirror took on a deeper meaning to me when I met this woman. She may have had an idea (possibly wrong) of what she looked like, and it was only when she saw what she looked like from an external source that the truth became apparent to her. It is the same with us spiritually. We  have an idea of who we think we are, and we’re exceptionally good at lying to ourselves about how great we are. It’s only after we see the reflection of ourselves in the word of God that it becomes apparent what we actually look like. It’s seeing ourselves from the outside that gives us honesty in our appearance. The standard always remains the same, not like our own view of ourselves which is based on comparison to others, and somehow manages to change based on our subjective idea of how good or bad we are. The fact is, we are all bad, but we’re also forgiven. As I wrote in a previous blog, the difference will be when we find where the chains of doom are kept. Will it be an unfamiliar place, or will we be so comfortable that we find that we had taken off our shoes to stay a while?

When we look in that mirror, let us look intently, and not forget what we’ve seen. Look at it often. If we walk away for a long time, we may find in coming back many years later, that the face we now see is vastly older and more haggard from the one we saw last time.

 

My Favorite Pictures, And The Law Of Diminishing Returns

I’ve now been back from Ethiopia for five days, and I’ve had a chance to go through a good number of the 4600 pictures I took while I was there. This was my second trip to Africa in two and a half months. Each time I get back from Africa, I have a number of photos that I like initially. Whether they stay favorites is still yet to be seen. Like music, I find that I grow tired of some pictures quickly, while others I had not initially liked grow on me as their complexities and nuances mature until they become some of my favorites. The thing about traveling so much is that each time, it’s harder to get that “wow” factor, at least in my own mind. Though a photo may be new and exciting to someone else, I find it harder to impress myself.  I think I could categorize this under the law of diminishing returns, though not in the economic sense, of course. Ethiopia was excellent though for a number of reasons. It was a new country for me, and I had excellent access to real people in their everyday lives, with their struggles and joys. It’s truly an experience to be fully immersed in the culture and experience life WITH them, rather than just making observations OF them. I’m also going to make a quick plug for the Petros Network, whom I was with. If you’d like to help with the work they’re doing, their website is http://www.petrosnetwork.org. So with that, here are some of my initial favorites. I will have more later, since I currently have too many favorites. (It’s a good problem to have.) All pictures can be clicked on for a bit larger look. Enjoy.

An Ethiopian pastor deep in prayer.
An Ethiopian pastor deep in prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the widows we visited in her home.
One of the widows we visited in her home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team praying for a mother and her baby with pneumonia.
The team praying for a mother and her baby with pneumonia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hand of a widow in prayer.
The hand of a widow in prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children in the village of Gojo.
Children in the village of Gojo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life in the village of Gojo.
Life in the village of Gojo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the widows in her home.
One of the widows in her home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A woman carries banana leaves early in the morning outside Gojo.
A woman carries banana leaves early in the morning outside Gojo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking over the field before nightfall.
Looking over the field before nightfall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The faces of the crowd waiting for help.
The faces of the crowd waiting for help.

Where The Chains Of Doom Are Kept, I Find My Shoes.

One of the most profound music lyrics I’ve heard is from, oddly enough, a song called “American Cheese”. One of the lines is, “And I know that, where the chains of doom are kept, I find my shoes.”  I know there are those out there who believe that people are inherently good, and they’re welcome to their opinion. I’ve never taken to the Star Trek version of humanity, that we’ll just keep getting better on our own. I’ve seen too much with my own eyes to believe such fluff. I’m more of the opinion that “Lord of the Flies” had it much more accurately.

If I want to know the potential of what evil is possible in the world, all I really need to do is look in the mirror. I can tell myself, as many do, that I’m not such a bad person. But I know perfectly well that the potential is there. All I need to do is take my focus off of God and place it somewhere else, whether it’s myself, or money, or power (the latter leading back to self anyway.) But that’s the great thing about following Christ. He takes his own perfections, (yes, plural) and in an incredible act of grace and mercy, decides to let me with all of my imperfections, be His representative. I can look in that mirror, look at my face with all the potential for evil, and see the face of Christ instead. All I have to do is make sure my focus is not on me, but on Him. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “And we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us;”

As I get ready to go to Ethiopia, the spiritual warfare has already started. God chooses to let cracked, broken pots hold the fullness of His glory. The devil tries to drive wedges into these cracks and make them larger; cracks caused by all our imperfections, whether it be pride, or a lack of faith, or a lack of trust, or fear. I speak of myself with some of these. But the perfection that is Christ is made more full because the larger the cracks, the more opportunity for God’s grace to abound. In the same way, the worse things are, the more opportunity for God to do miracles. In all this, the defeat of the enemy will be all the more bitter because he will be defeated by such imperfection made perfect through Christ. So I must maintain my focus on Christ. When I go to the place where the chains of doom are kept, I don’t want to find my shoes there, and by God’s grace I won’t.

Where the chains of doom are kept (or the South Dakota badlands in infrared.
Where the chains of doom are kept (or the South Dakota badlands in infrared.

Ethiopia and the Petros Network

I find myself both excited but with my head spinning a bit. I have two trips to Africa planned for the next two and a half months. Kenya I’ve mentioned a bit, but I’m also joining the Petros Network this October and November in Ethiopia. I should be back from Kenya just long enough to get over the jet lag before I head across the ocean to Ethiopia. I’m excited for both these trips for a number of reasons. I’m excited to be moving into new territory, excited to see what plans God has to move in these places. I have to be honest, I’m also excited to be going to places that are not a war zone. I’m excited to be using the skills that God has given me for capturing the heart of the people I visit through photography. I’m excited to meet new people and new cultures, and see entirely new things.

There’s a lot of exciting (I know, I keep using that word) things going on with the Petros Network, and I’m very happy to be part of it. So I’m writing this blog to feature their story. As such, I’ve grabbed their story from their website, so when I talk about it with people, they’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, and hopefully can spread their vision.

The Petros Network Story

HOME  /  ABOUT US  /  THE PETROS NETWORK STORY

PN How It Started The Petros Network Story

How God’s Kingdom works — small beginnings, unlikely sources, invisible activity, irresistible growth that is Petros Network’s story. – Pastor Ray Noah, Founder of Petros Network

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO SPONSOR A CHURCH PLANT IN ETHIOPIA, SOUTH SUDAN, OR UGANDA

Small beginnings…

In 1991, Dr. Charles Blair, the pastor of Calvary Temple in Denver, Colorado, launched leadership training in partnership with the Evangelical Church Fellowship of Ethiopia to raise up and equip young pastors. By 1996, Dr. Blair had trained 300 missionaries church planters.  Two of those young pastors were Alayu Kebede and Bekele Godeta, who later became key leaders in the Petros Network’s church planting movement. This group of missionaries planted 300 churches in unreached villages, and by 2002 they had multiplied to 800 churches.

In 2002, Dr. Blair was 84-years-old when he received a request from a Christian president of one of Ethiopia’s nine federal regions. This leader asked Charles if he would sponsor in his region 1000 church plants within the next two years while the doors were open under his presidency. In that region were 3000 villages, and the president envisioned that 1000 churches planted could quickly reproduce at least two additional churches and his region could be won for Jesus. Although Charles was growing older and lacked adequate resources to plant that large number of churches, he couldn’t shake the president’s request. So he agreed to plant those 1000 churches!

On the return flight to the US, Dr. Blair was suddenly overcome with doubt. How in the world could an old man with no money plant 1000 churches. So he began to write a letter to the president rescinding his agreement, explaining all the reasons why he couldn’t help and all the things he didn’t possess to do the job. However, somewhere in the air between Ethiopia and Denver, God spoke and said, “Charles, don’t tell me what you don’t have—just use what you have.” Charles said, “Lord, all I’ve got at this point in my life are friends.” And the Lord said, “Then tell your friends—and watch what I do.”

Charles Blair and Ray Noah The Petros Network StoryAfter Charles arrived home, one of the “friends” he first contacted was a former associate, Pastor Ray Noah, who was then pastoring a church in California. Charles told him about the vision. Pastor Ray honestly thought this was the case of an “old man dreaming dreams, “ but he couldn’t help but be impressed that this “old man” was still in the game, dreaming dreams and swinging for the fences.

As Charles asked him what he thought of this idea, Pastor Ray responded, “Absolutely this is a great idea. You should go for it!” And with that Charles responded, “If it is such a great idea, will you help me?”

Pastor Ray had just unwittingly taken hold of the baton he didn’t know was being passed, and together began to strategize how to plant 1000 churches in unreached villages in a remote region of Ethiopia without any money. Staying true to God’s voice, they called 100 of their “friends” to hear about this vision.

After hearing the plan, 99 of the 100 said “yes” to the call. From there, they sent word to 2300 donors and the necessary finances began to come in. In two years, starting from scratch, nearly $2 million was raised and 1000 churches were planted. Between 2003 and 2007, that number grew to 1642 churches and thousands of new converts who had never heard the name of Jesus were brought into those churches. An Ethiopian government census stated that in 2003 there were 5.4% Christians in the region, but that percentage had grown to 13.5% by 2007. A veritable revival had been set loose!

By the end of 2007, Pastor Charles was 87 and his health was growing poor. Because of his illness, he was no longer able to share the vision and raise funds for continued church planting in Ethiopia. However, in that same year Pastor Ray Noah stepped in to continue that vision and took over the financial burden of the Ethiopian offices and ministry. In 2008 he accepted a pastorate at Portland Christian Center. The church whole-heartedly embraced the church planting vision, and even though Pastor Blair passed away, a new group of believers in Portland, Oregon were named as stewards of the vision.

Pastor Bekele Godeta and Gojo, Ethiopia

Pastor Bekele Godeta planted his first church in a small village with no believers when he was 22 years old. The town was ruled by a powerful witch doctor, who was hostile toward this growing young church. He gathered an army of 400 to fight against the 25 new believers. Sadly, 9 new believers died in the conflict, 300 cattle belonging to the new believers were stolen, and all-out persecution began.

Bekele Godeta Ray Noah The Petros Network StoryThe government sent soldiers to fight the 400-strong opposition. In the 3-day war that followed, many more people died. The witch doctor, wanting to kill the leader of this upstart congregation, assumed that he must be a very big man—both in size and influence, for who else could command such influence and authority to have the government fight for him. He never suspected the 22-year-old dressed very casually right under his nose. Pastor Bekele’s supporters kept his identity hidden, knowing the witch doctor was trying to find and kill him. Ultimately, the government quelled the uprising, and the 300 cattle were returned. As punishment, the witch doctor was forced to feed 100 government soldiers for 3 months. All the while, the small church was growing, adding new converts day by day.

A year later, the church members were walking by the witch doctor’s home. They were singing as they walked, but stopped to inquire as to the commotion surrounding his home. “What happened?” they asked. “The witch doctor just died!” was the response. That was the beginning of an even bigger revival, through which 48 more churches have now been planted from that one church! The witch doctor was never replaced.

In 1996, Pastor Bekele, at 26 years of age, moved to an unreached village called Gojo. Before bringing the first 6 converts to Christ, Pastor Bekele faced harsh persecution, even being stoned at one point. However, the number of believers were multiplying in Gojo and other churches were forming. Likewise, the persecution had all but disappeared. In 2009 Pastor Bekele, full of faith, contacted Alayu Kebede, Petros Network’s Ethiopian Call Director and asked him to send an email to Pastor Ray saying, “Will you help me plant 250 churches in the Oromia region.” When Pastor Ray received the email he knew this was a calling from God.

God has a plan…

Within that very week, Pastor Ray was having coffee with a member of his church and began telling him about Pastor Bekele’s request. Unknown to Pastor Ray, the gentleman had some means and called him later that day, “I will support planting 125 churches if you can come up with funding for another 125 churches.” That man was George Wilson ofWater for the World. God had placed a vision in the heart of an Ethiopian pastor, who wrote a US Pastor, who shared a burden with a another brother along with several US/Canadian churches, and Petros Network’s church planting movement was poised for growth.

When Pastor Ray moved his family to take over the pastorate of Portland Christian Center in 2008, he did so under the agreement that the church would join in supporting the Ethiopian Church planting vision of Petros Network. And they did it with enthusiasm! Portland Christian Center has personally sponsored well over 400 of the 1000 church plants in Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan.
Petros Network Church Planter The Petros Network StorySince 2010, Petros Network has planted more than 850 churches in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia. Church planters report over 1.2 million Ethiopians have heard the gospel for the first time, and over 140,000 Ethiopians have responded to the message to follow Christ and joined the local church. Redemptive Lift efforts have followed the church plants. Through Petros Network, and the local indigenous church, a training center, a guest house, two primary schools (Ethiopia and Uganda), 373 physical church buildings have been built, and an additional 303 are in progress. Water has been advanced in the city of Gojo, a model farm is being developed, 50 acres of land is being harvested, medical and dental clinics have been launched by church partners, five widow’s homes have been built, and The TESFA Project was initiated to provide micro-grants, meaningful work, training, and support for widows and orphans. Truly, Petros Network has demonstrated the local church, when at its best, is the hope of the world.

In the spring of 2013, Petros Network formed a key partnership with Pastor Kirk Yamaguchi and the Canyon View Vineyard Church to advance into South Sudan.  The results have been miraculous, similar to what’s been happening in Ethiopia over the past decade, showing the power in expanding the Kingdom of God through Jesus’ example of Word and Deed. In addition to South Sudan, Petros Network has also moved into Uganda and Kenya and is investigating other unreached people groups.

What has been the strategy for growth?  The same strategy God gave to Dr. Charles Blair — go tell your friends and see what I (God) will do! Today we are grateful for the unity of the church and strategic partners unifying across denominational lines in the US, Canada, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda for Kingdom Impact.

Soli Deo Gloria! For the Glory of God Alone!

Africa in Infrared

As the wedding season slows a bit here in the south (it gets really hot here), I find I’m able to catch up on the things I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time. I no longer feel like I’ve got all the unedited files snapping at my heels like a herd of badly color corrected schnauzers.

 

On one of my previous trips to Africa, before I left, I had my old 30d slr camera converted to shoot 720 nm infrared light by Digital Silver Imaging. They take the old filter that’s opaque to infrared light off your sensor and replace it with one that allows certain wavelengths of infrared light to pass through. This allows for some really unique photography. I’ll say right off the bat that people seem to either hate it or love it, but it is a totally different way of seeing things. Objects reflect infrared light differently than visible, light, so the processing of the photographs is really an art form unto itself.

Infrared photography taken in Torit, South Sudan
Infrared photography taken in Torit, South Sudan

 

So why would I carry the extra weight of an additional camera body when I have tight weight restrictions and  literally need to be able to carry everything on my back?  Because as far as I know, nobody’s done it before, at least not in South Sudan. All photos were taken either in South Sudan or in Kenya. I wanted to get a new perspective, and by doing so, perhaps catch peoples attention who have never paid any notice to what’s going on in that part of the world. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, there is a tremendous physical and spiritual need in South Sudan. Having said that though, I’m not sure I’d carry the extra weight again.

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A family shelters from the heat of the day in Torit, South Sudan. Infrared photo.

I am currently getting ready to go on a missions trip to Ethiopia. I’ve been asked to take pictures for the Petros Network, which is doing extensive work there with church planting, medical missions, and widow and orphan missions. I am excited and honored to be able to help them. Their website is http://petrosnetwork.org

I will of course be blogging and posting photos of the Ethiopia trip when that happens. In the meantime though, between now and the end of October when I leave, I need to raise about $2000 more  to cover my expenses. I have put my infrared photos up for sale as a fundraiser.  The gallery can be viewed by using the following link. There are a variety of sizes available, and custom sizes can be ordered by contacting me though the online gallery.  Please visit http://www.enjoyphotos.com, and fill in the following information:

Username: Infrared Africa Prints
Password: 43975

Enjoy my photography, and if you’d like to own some of it, you’ll be helping a good cause.

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Huts and one lone sheep, Bor South Sudan. Infrared photo.

Praying That The Truck Stalls.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16b

Prayer has been on mind mind today, in particular in regards to some of the situations I’ve been in when traveling in South Sudan. One particular instance comes to mind. I was traveling in the back of a Toyota Land Cruiser with two other missionaries and several natives, going from the town of Bor to a village about three hours north called Liliir. The seasonal rains had run long that year, and there were huge sections of road that were virtually impassible. When I say virtually impassible, what I mean is that some vehicles made it, and some did not. We passed many vehicles that were stuck deeper than the wheels in mud, and were being unloaded to take the weight off so hopefully they could be moved. I remember one that had its rear axle sitting behind it, and was clearly not going to be going anywhere. I have a picture I took of one of those vehicles as we passed.

Toyota being unloaded to try to get it out of the mud, South Sudan.
Toyota being unloaded to try to get it out of the mud, South Sudan.

 

So now, knowing the situation, you would think that our driver would take the utmost care to avoid those kinds of situations on the way back from the village that evening. You would think wrong. He apparently had a terminal case of denial, and as we came to this very spot where only six hours before we had seen the above vehicle stuck, he decided to go through that very same spot rather than go the route we knew was safe. The thing about traveling in South Sudan is that you really don’t want to be doing it at night, and getting stuck would have put us in that situation.  Just for reference, since I’m unable to get the travel warning we were under at the time, I’m just posting the current one from the Dept. of State. ”

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Republic of South Sudan.  After review of our security conditions, the U.S. Department of State lifted the ordered departure status for the U.S. Embassy in Juba on June 12, 2014.  However, as a result of continued instability and a poor security situation resulting from the civil conflict which erupted in the country in December 2013, the U.S. Embassy will continue operating at reduced staffing levels for the foreseeable future.  The U.S. Embassy is therefore only able to offer very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Republic of South Sudan.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on April 23, 2014.”

So you can see now why we wouldn’t want to be stuck out at night with no way to get back.  Despite our loud objections, our driver tried to put the vehicle into four wheel drive low, and descend into the muck. What he didn’t know, though, was that we had a team of people praying for us back home.

As our driver tried to put the vehicle into four wheel low, the engine stalled. He started it back up, tried to put it back into four wheel low, and stalled it again. This happened three or four times. Finally, he gave up, backed up the vehicle, and drove to the route we had come through that morning. As he got to the crossing, he dropped the vehicle into four wheel low gear with no trouble and no stalling, and crossed easily.

It’s situations like this that make you realize the difference between tourism and missions. It’s not the place you are going that makes the difference, it’s the spiritual currents that are running just below the surface. Is what you’re doing moving things in the spiritual realm? If they are, you are going to face opposition, and this is why those who are still at home in prayer are just as important if not more so than those who actually go. I will probably go into other situations where this was very apparent at a later time.  For now though, the subject of prayer is forefront on my mind as some of my friends are currently on their way to Kenya, some of them for the first time. Also, in the next three months, I’ll be going to Kenya as well, and then to Ethiopia. More on that later.

On the Road to Bulletproof.

In the past couple months, a lot has changed. One of the things is that I now get to watch from the outside the experiences of someone close to me as she prepares to go to Africa. The person I’m talking about is my wife.  We have decided to go to Kenya, (together this time). We will be going to visit a little girl we have been sponsoring for two years now, and for once I will be going to Kenya for the sake of going to Kenya, and not just on route to somewhere more remote.

I’m excited for my wife, even if she isn’t yet excited for herself. I’m excited because I know some of what’s in store for her. We went yesterday to get her first immunizations for going overseas; not a terribly pleasant process. It was at this point, after the second needle, that the gravity of what was going on struck her and it became an emotional and difficult experience. The needle wasn’t the problem, it was the anxiety that this was real, that she was going WAY out of her comfort zone and going somewhere totally unfamiliar.

What is it that makes memories? What is it that makes life exciting and worth living? Let’s for now just touch on the trying new things part of the answer to that question.  Why do so many of us have such fond and romantic memories of childhood?  It’s because as a child, everything is new, and consequently everything is exciting. Furthermore, we have only the memories going backward, without the anxiety of not knowing the future. Our memories have been expurgated of most or all of the bad things, because the bad things rarely ended up being as bad as we though they might be, but the good things usually ended up being at least as good as we expected.

Fast forward to adulthood, where most of us have gotten into a long pattern of doing the same thing day after day. Where we worry about the future, and even though in childhood our worst fears never came to fruition, we still worry about anything new. Consequently the excitement ends, and many of us never do anything new again. How boring a life does that make for us?  Not only boring, but ineffectual. We make decisions out of fear, or we avoid a decision out of fear. The fact is that almost all the time, a decision based on fear is the wrong decision. Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” Though I consider Nietzsche’s philosophy to be a mixed bag, I believe he was right in this. We forget this as adults. We avoid pain and difficulty and consequently we avoid growth.

So in this I am proud of my wife. I know how difficult this is for her because she is not an adventurous woman by any stretch of the imagination. We talked about going to a number of places as part of our twentieth anniversary, and out of all of them she chose the most difficult. And even as she gets her shots so she can get on the road to becoming bulletproof, and she can’t yet look back and see that it was worth it, she has chosen growth over fear.

Getting her first immunizations to go to Africa. Today was Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever, and Polio. Fun!!
Getting her first immunizations to go to Africa. Today was Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever, and Polio. Fun!!