Archive - April 2014

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A Tale of Two Photos
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[VIDEO] Rich Church, Poor Church
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Do Western Missionaries Damage Cultures?
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Storytelling and Respecting Subjects
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Monthly Prayer Journal: April 2014

A Tale of Two Photos

The photos we choose to share in missions photography should represent subjects as the treasures they are, made in God's image. Photographs by Robert Johnson / TEAM

Robert Johnson, TEAM’s Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief of Horizons magazine, shares about subjectivity and how we portray people in images. Her collection of doll parts filled a storage shed behind her house. Plastic arms, legs, heads, and bodies spilled from overstuffed bags onto the concrete floor. Maria Delfina Hernandez had built a small business with these doll parts salvaged from a dump in Guatemala City, cleaning them up, piecing them back together and selling them at low cost in the market. She’s been doing this for years. A gospel analogy using baby doll parts, Hernandez’s story is inspiring to me…

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[VIDEO] Rich Church, Poor Church


We recently released this short video by TEAM videographer Cary Brown, a profile of a couple in Peru who live in an impoverished neighborhood and commute to a much nicer part of their city to worship in a relatively wealthy church.

Cary’s excellent work (and this accompanying story) is a glimpse of a fairly rare phenomenon. In many — if not most — parts of the developing world, it’s highly uncommon for people to cross socio-economic divides to attend church. Poorer people tend to worship in “poor” churches, and wealthy people tend to worship in “rich” churches.

You could probably point to evidence that this is also the situation with the church in many North American communities. But the division is even more pronounced in the developing world.

From Mexico City to Mumbai, this is a significant challenge for missions. In many countries with a growing church, statistics for a nation as a whole might lead one to believe that the population of Christ-followers is large enough for missiologists to qualify the nation as “reached.” But segment those numbers by household income or neighborhood income, and entire “unreached” populations will emerge. The gaping income disparity between rich and poor in many of those countries is reflected in the church by equally severe stratification. The gospel may take root and flourish among slum-dwellers — or, less often, among the wealthy — but it rarely jumps to other rungs on the income ladder.

The desire and ability to minister across racial and socio-economic lines is an important sign of a church’s missional health. Missionaries like TEAM’s Craig Querfeld are working hard to get otherwise healthy churches to take the next step and develop a passion for reaching out beyond their own “kind.” This is crucial for successful church reproduction in the long-term.

Often it is easier to travel around the world to minister to people who are socio-economically like us than to befriend the “others” living next door. This goes for churches and believers in the developing world just as much as for those anywhere else.

Do Western Missionaries Damage Cultures?

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Where culture doesn't contradict spiritual truth, western missionaries must take care to leave it unchanged. Photo by Robert Johnson / TEAM

Today, TEAM missionary Brett Miller shares about how missionaries impact cultures in good and bad ways — and how to avoid the latter. Recently, I went pheasant hunting with some friends of my Dad who were kind enough to include me in their circle. It was a special day and, as one of them pointed out, likely my last day of pheasant hunting. There are no pheasants in Swaziland, where my wife and I are going to serve as missionaries. One of the men I was hunting with made a perceptive comment. He told me that missions had done serious…

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Storytelling and Respecting Subjects

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TEAM videographer Joel Hager builds relationships with children in a neighborhood near Arequipa, Peru, while working on a story about their community. Photo by Andy Olsen / TEAM

Everyone loves a good story. Except, sometimes, when it’s about them. Like most missions agencies, TEAM has a dedicated group of professionals who work to tell the stories of what God is doing around the world. Our storytelling team (in my opinion) has one of the best jobs around, getting to know our amazing workers on the field and inviting people half a world away to experience their work through words, images and videos. Our goal is to tell the most accurate, compelling and authentic stories we can. But that goal sometimes conflicts with the desires of our story subjects,…

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Monthly Prayer Journal: April 2014

Photo by Robert Johnson/TEAM

Thank you for joining us in praying for TEAM’s work around the world. Click here to download a .pdf of the April 2014 prayer journal. 1 UKRAINE Please pray for the people of Ukraine that during this time of unrest, many people will find their rest in Jesus. 2 PERU Kathi Small writes, “The Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills workshop will be held April 4-12 in Lima. Colombian friends Claudio Ardila and his wife, Elmis, will be handling the workshop. I would ask that you pray for them in their preparation as well as during the workshop. Please, also pray for Dámaris,…

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