The Road to Germany: The Wrong Direction

For more information, go to stephanhughes.com

I thought my next trip out of the country would be a visit to Germany, not Sierra Leone in Africa.

I was asked by my university to make a documentary on a high school. I couldn’t say no. But I struggled with something. Not with the trip, not with missions, not with going to Africa instead of Europe. I struggled with my role.

What difference can a guy with a camera make? That question kept repeating.

so few people seem to realize how important art and media is in missions. A lot of people don’t really understand what I do, and as a result, I get discouraged. I am not working with orphans, preaching, digging wells, tending to the sick, etc. I am a guy with a camera. I take pictures and video.

And yet, we forget about the power of art and media, because our western society is so saturated with it.  I have trouble getting my work seen or heard. Even within the church, there are always voices louder than mine. People championing a cause with louder cries and fanfare. It makes me and my work seem so insignificant.

But media is the single most influential force in our world. Why wouldn’t we want to use it to spread the gospel?

It’s strange to think that there is a higher percentage of Christians in one small African nation than in the entirety of Europe, but it’s true. Europe has a spiritual poverty that is not being addressed. The greatest poverty is that of the spirit, not of material things. The Christian church is growing in Africa. But in Europe, it’s dying. But to us, Africa is the mission field, not Europe. Europe has a greater need for the gospel. But in order to reach them and raise awareness of this need, we need to use the most powerful tool at our disposal: art and storytelling.

This is what Africa taught me. I am not just a guy with a camera, but my role as a missionary is something so much more.

So what can a guy with a camera do? Quite a bit. I am the eyes and ears, I am the messenger, I am the storyteller, I am an artist. I am a missionary. My role as a filmmaker takes me to places others won’t go, to people who have been forgotten, and environments where the gospel is needed. It’s not just about taking pretty pictures or neat videos. It is about using media to make a difference, to introduce the Gospel in a way that people can connect with. That is just the beginning.

But it takes more than one person to accomplish this. On my own, I cannot change the world, but together we can make a difference.

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