BlogThoughts from the office

Going Forward Together

We made it! We have just completed the final week for the SFM lecture phase. Very soon, we head off for outreach, and all the adventures with God which await us in Manila and Indonesia. We fully expect to see God do great stuff through us as we create a missions documentary for the believers in Manila, and later a short drama that addresses the power of the name of Jesus. Not to mention a bunch of prayer and evangelism along the way.

But right now we are still reflecting on our last week of lectures. We had the amazing Beth Senn teaching us about Unity—where it started, why it matters, and how to do it. There’s been heaps of revelation about the Trinity, and God’s high value of relationship, and his heart and plan for people. 


Beth literally vibrates with the creativity of God and her passion for him, and she has brought so much colour and understanding to the age-old problem of how to do this godly “together” thing. Her background in working for a major special effects company in Melbourne and all the dynamics of being a production coordinator there has definitely shed light on the importance of a focus on unity and how it can be attained.

We trust that God will do an ever-deepening work in us in that area, during outreach! Onward!

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SFM 2017 - Learning to Tell God's Stories

So here we are three-quarters through lecture phase of the SFM and fresh off the back of two incredible weeks learning the art of documentary film making. 

In Week Eight we had visiting guest speaker Ken with us from the Wollongong YWAM base on the east coast of Australia. Ken not only shared with us the essential elements of creating a good documentary, but he brought an incredible testimony of the faithfulness of God that he has seen as he has submitted his life and his plans to Jesus.

That submission has resulted in the powerful and anointed ministry of Create International Emerge, Ken’s ministry which consistently produces powerful films which communicate the real-life stories of regular people spreading the Gospel and seeing radical fruit as a result. It was amazing having Ken with us, sharing his stories and inspiring us deeply as a result.

Then last week in Week Nine, we put that inspiration and information into practice to create an actual mini-documentary here on the base, focused around our Performing Arts ministry, First Fruit Productions. All those tips on planning, interviews, camera angles, b-roll, and storytelling were put into practice by our team of enthusiastic students in an all-or-nothing rollercoaster of documentary production.

They worked so hard, and the results are awesome! We’ll be sharing the film soon—it’s definitely a gem that we will be using here on base, and in the wider community. Go girls!

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SFM 2017 - Putting Movement into the Images

What a brilliant time we’re having on the School of Frontier Media! This week we have guest speaker Jason De Ford with us from Create International in Thailand, speaking on all the elements of cinematography that turn average “videos” into actual films.

Jason is a brilliant movie maker in his own right, and his passion for beautiful images is infectious. He loves the principles of good filmmaking and how they help communicate a story. He also loves all the mechanics of capturing that perfect shot, which means our students have been hands on with our jib and slider and oh, the endlessly changing lenses.

To put this into practice we’ve been out and about in one of Perth’s more exquisite parks, as well as using some of the excellent talent on base (many brilliant actors around here)m to bring to life some truly dramatic moments. It’s been a blast! Not to mention the powerful times we’ve been having with God, setting our hearts more firmly on the unreached peoples and seeing him move in our personal lives.

We’re halfway through the lecture phase of the school now, and looking forward to all that the second half may bring!

 

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SFM 2017 - Truly Equipped to Go

This week on the SFM we were privileged to have the Equip2Go seminar with Calvin and Carol Conkey, the founders of Create International.



It was awesome! Not only were the students encouraged through testimonies of how God is moving and reaching people in the Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu worlds, but they learnt how to share the Gospel with people from these groups. They saw that God has left many elements in people’s traditional cultures—stories, rituals, and even architecture--which point back to the creator God who sets his people free for a life of joyful abundance and a future in heaven with him.

There are so many opportunities for communicating the good news in a way that it can be truly understood and received! And there is so much technology and so many media resources out there that can be used touch the lives of thousands of people.

What an amazing age to be in, and an amazing creative God to partner with!

 

 

 

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SFM 2017 - Seeing the World Through God's Eyes!

We’re about a month into the 2017 SFM, and the time has flown! This first month has been packed with amazing stuff. Our students have learned, for example, to submit their creativity to God and to listen to his voice to shape the expression of their artistic gifts.

Recently, we had a week of photography. The SFM students learned the essentials of taking good pictures, and then stepped out into the streets of Perth and Fremantle to put their skills to the test. After having walked through the challenge of submitting their creativity to God in the previous week, our brave team had to confront the fear of man and let God lead them to complete strangers, to learn their stories and take their pictures.

But they quickly discovered that having a camera in hand is a great way to meet new people. It allows the photographer to affirm their subject’s God-given identities by showing them what they look like through the camera lens. And from there, it’s an easy step to telling people about God’s love for them!

After that, we hit Media Strategy, which is all about discovering how God wants to use media to help draw people to himself (so exciting!) We also examine how we can have the biggest impact on our chosen audience. Basically, there is no point doing big stuff if it isn’t going to do what we want it to do—which is to change lives! 


We love how God is raising up a generation that not only has the heart but also the skills to bring his hope to the planet. Thank you Jesus!

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SFM 2017 - Exciting Beginnings!

The School of Frontier Media for 2017 has begun! This year we have four students, from four very different nations. This might normally make for some misunderstandings, but these guys are so incredibly open and kind to each other, it’s making for an amazing school so far!

Our first week consisted of the usual orientation schedule, as well as ‘get-to-know-you’ and ‘get-to- know-the-base’ activities. These, combined with the gorgeous Perth sunshine, meant a whole heap of fun. We also had some great teaching on the nature and character of God, particularly his creativity, and how we his children reflect that quality since we are made in his likeness.

Week Two is shaping up to be just as good as Week One—we’re studying Graphic Design, which means teaching from some amazing leaders about the creative process and the rules of design, and then a whole lot of work putting that process and those ideas into action. It’s been a challenging time learning to be led by God, but the fruit has been some wonderful designs and personal breakthrough.

God is at work! He has been moving in the area of humility and trust, and stirring up the passion in each student for his calling on their lives and especially for media. Their desire for him and his work in their lives is infectious. More, God, more!

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The Gond of India

It was in April that Create International produced a film for the Gond, a cultural group of around 12 million who for the most part live in rural areas of central India and are very poor. In the midst of a Hindu majority, there are a small group of committed followers of Jesus who worship God and long for His highest for their people. We had the privilege to work alongside some of these believers to produce a movie that they can use to share the gospel. It’s called Freedom from Torment, and has just recently been completed and delivered to our partners.

The project was filmed with help from students on the School of Frontier Media. It tells the story of a poor man whose son is tormented by demonic attacks. Overwhelmed, he sends his son away and drowns his sorrows in alcohol.

The story was inspired by real-life experiences of Gond believers

As grief and depression threaten to consume him, he comes to see that he has made a terrible error, and embarks on a journey to bring his son home. As he does, his family comes to know the power of a God who loves, heals and restores.

The story was inspired by real-life experiences of Gond believers. The heart of the movie is that people would hear the gospel in a way that utilizes their own language, customs and people. We wanted to make a movie which would invite the Gond into a community of believers who love each other and worship Jesus in a culturally familiar way.

Now that it is finished, the movie will be distributed amongst the Gond, and to anyone with a vision to reach out to this people group. We have strong hopes that God will use the movie to touch the many hearts of many, and to call the Gond into a relationship of healing and salvation with their creator.

To view Freedom from Torment, visit our distribution website, www.indigitube.tv. You can also watch the movie's trailer and a behind-the-scenes film of our outreach on our Projects page.

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Returning to Nepal

Not so long ago, Create International traveled to Nepal, revisiting an area that we had been to before.  It was wonderful to return after two years: recognizing landmarks, seeing familiar faces and catching up with old friends.  Two years prior, we had been there creating an evangelistic film for an unreached people called the Limbu. We were all excited to return and have a chance to show the movie to the audience we had prepared it for.

The Limbu are a group of mostly poorer, rural Hindus, concentrated in the hills of eastern Nepal. Despite the brokenness amongst their communities that has been caused by drinking and anger, they are a beautiful people who we experienced as friendly, hospitable, and full of joy.

Our Create International team worked alongside a media-focused Discipleship Training School from YWAM Perth, and spent two weeks doing Bible distribution, prayer ministry, open-air evangelism and film screenings.  It was a thrill to see people's responses to the movie!  We were able to show it in a number of villages, which in some cases meant sharing the love of Jesus in that area for the first time. It was exciting to see people’s interest captured by the story they were seeing on the screen, interrupting whatever other activities they could have been doing to watch the gospel unfold before them in a compelling dramatic form.

He identified with the main character in the movie, wanting to be like him not only in the challenges he faced, but in the way his life was changed by the gospel.

We spoke to one young man after he had seen the movie in the very village that we had filmed it in. He said that he identified with the main character in the movie, wanting to be like him not only in the struggles and challenges he faced, but also in the way his life was changed by the gospel.

It was a blessing for us to be able to see the fruit of our earlier work. It was also an encouragement to keep pressing on to produce more resources and to communicate God’s love more effectively with the unreached.

Overall, it was a powerful time in which many people heard the gospel, several people were healed, and over 2500 Bible were distributed. There was a great hunger for God’s word amongst the Limbu and their neighboring peoples, and lots of excitement as people were touched by with the power of God for healing and salvation.

Please continue to pray for the Limbu, and in the meantime enjoy a short video that one of our team members made on the trip.  it highlights an exciting testimony of the way that God brought healing to one man that we met.

 

 

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God's Beauty Displayed

Each year the SFM travels to a different country to make a film—wherever and however God leads. This year, I was part of a team that filmed in Central India.

We go on outreach to bring change, and we end by being changed ourselves. This is the paradox and the beauty of what God does through missions.

Certainly it was the case when I met this beautiful girl, Ra, during our shoot in India. Like the rest of our Indian helpers, she seemed very reticent and shy, and for the first week or so I was mostly impressed by her graceful quietness.

We had been rigorously trained in ‘cultural appropriateness,’ so we didn’t push her to be forward with us. In truth I wasn’t sure if she would ever come out of her shell, though we were filming in her village for weeks.

She is unable to confess the truth to her Hindu parents, and so she lives a sort of secret life, and a dangerous one.

Then, slowly, she began to gain a little more confidence, and take us up on our offers to try the camera, and actually have conversations. It turned out that she knew a lot of English, and so out came her story in bits and pieces. We learned that she was the sole believer in her family, and that only her brother and sister knew of her faith. She is unable to confess the truth to her Hindu parents, and so she lives a sort of secret life, and a dangerous one.

On our last day with her, there was a time of thanks and appreciation, and the pastor asked if anyone would like to stand and give a testimony. Personally I would have found such a situation intimidating, speaking in front of so many people. But Ra jumped up with her beautiful white smile, and talked about how we had blessed her.

I was so moved—not only that she had been blessed, but by her boldness and faith. I realised that this is a girl who truly knows and is walking with the Lord. He has done a miraculous work in her heart, the way he is doing with so many people across the whole nation of India.

She is an example of the beauty and wonderful power of God.

 

Angela is a recent graduate of the School of Frontier Media

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A Lesson in God’s Faithfulness

This is a story from Josh, a past student from the School of Frontier Media:

On my School of Frontier Media I had the chance to make an evangelistic film in India. When we began, we didn’t have the actors that we needed to shoot the film. We were quickly running out of time, and we realised we just needed to pray and ask God in order to figure out how we were meant to shoot this project. After praying, we felt like we were just supposed to continue to do whatever was possible. This meant shooting the scenes that we could, even if we didn’t have everything else worked out, and to just keep moving forward from there. We began to do this, filming the scenes that we were able to. And as we did that, God gave us what we needed. We picked up actors along the way, always at the perfect time, and somehow arrived at the end with a completed project.

This was massive for me and has influenced my whole approach to film making.

During this time of shooting in India I learned to understand an audience in order to create a film specifically tailored for them, their unique culture and their unique ways of communicating. To do this we had translators and cultural advisors working alongside us to educate us about the culture, including their language, their dress, and their ways of relating. This was massive for me and has influenced my whole approach to film making.

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Outreach in Indonesia

There are 1.1 million Jambi Malay people living in Indonesia. The majority of them are unreached, having never heard the gospel before. This April, Create Perth and the School of Frontier Media traveled to Indonesia to create media resources for the evangelisation of the

Jambi Malay people. It was our desire to create a film that would help to reveal to these men, women and children the true character of God his Fatherhood, mercy and compassion.

Our first few weeks in Indonesia were spent building relationships, learning about the culture and collecting photographs and stories along the way. These photographs and stories will be collated and developed into a mobilisation website, sharing the strengths and the needs of the Jambi Malay people through their stories.

One family that we met shared a story with us of a large flood where the river swelled, flooding their home for a number of weeks. During this time they had nowhere to go, so they remained in their house, living, sleeping and cooking inside in their small wooden boats, encountering cobras and alligators in their own home. It was great to take the time to hear the stories of the local people. Many people we met were honoured by our listening ears.

We also spent time focusing on our evangelistic film project. After meeting a local contact who is also a Muslim background believer, the doors were opened for us to make an evangelistic film and we quickly got to work. We spent six days shooting a short script that we had developed. There were challenges in finding locations to shoot and working with a cast who had never acted before, but God continually showed us his faithfulness and each challenge was overcome. Our local contacts are as excited about the completion of this film as we are. There are many potential opportunities in which this film could be used to share the gospel in the main city as well as the surrounding village areas.

We have just begun post production and editing on the Jambi Malay Evangelistic film, which will be available for distribution in Indonesia later this year.

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There are still 6500 unreached people groups

The need for new and diverse media tools to share the gospel with the unreached is immense and hasn’t changed.  Calvin and Carol Conkey, the International Directors of Create International, shared a paper at global missions conference that highlights this need and suggests some strategies for meeting it.
 
Put simply, there are around 6500 distinct people groups out in the world today that most would classify as “unreached” – basically where the local church lacks the means to reach out to the rest of the people without significant help from the international church.  Some of these people groups are large and some are small.  In some of these places, for a variety of reasons the local church barely exists at all, and in many the international church – myself included – has barely begun the work of reaching out to them.Because of the language and cultural differences that exist between people groups, we cannot expect the same presentation of the gospel to be equally effective in every situation.  This is an obvious idea when it comes to language barriers – clearly a Bible in French will not effectively communicate to an audience who only speaks Mandarin – but similar limitations arise due to cultural and social differences between peoples.

In our ministry of Create International, one of our aims is to produce presentations of the gospel that are tailored made for specific cultural groupings, and are effective at communicating the message to people in particular local contexts.  Over the years, Create teams past and present have produced over 50 presentations of different sorts (dramatic films, music videos, comics, art pieces) that have the potential to share the gospel with several dozen different people groups.

However, as I mentioned there are around 6500 total unreached people groups!  Many of them are over a million in population.  Of those over 210 are considered to be “least evangelised” – where over half the population have apparently not even had the opportunity to hear about Jesus.  So even if we just limit our target to those least evangelised mega peoples, there are still 150 people groups that we’ve never done a contextualised presentation of the gospel for – and in many cases, nobody has.  There is still so much that can be done, still so much opportunity for artists, film makers and media producers in and out of YWAM to put relevant media resources into the hands of the long and short-term workers who are faithfully trusting God for breakthrough amongst all the nations of the earth.
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Film Making in Nepal

This April, Create Perth travelled to Janakpur – the home of Nepal’s largest Hindu temple – to produce resources for the Maithili. Many Hindu pilgrims travel each year to this site for spiritual blessing.

It was our desire to create a film that would help to reveal to these men, women and children the true blessings that our Creator wants to bring to all of us – blessings of relationship, peace, and hope for eternity.

There, we heard many amazing stories of how Christ had transformed their lives, even in the face of great trouble and persecution.

We worked with brothers and sisters in the local body of Christ to produce this movie. There, we heard many amazing stories of how Christ had transformed their lives, even in the face of great trouble and persecution. We learnt that nearly every Christian in this area had suffered after choosing to follow Jesus, with many being kicked out of their families. But we also heard stories of God’s grace and provision in the midst of persecution, stories of how church had become home, stories of how whole families who had once been persecutors were now worshippers. Out of their experiences, our project partners developed an evangelistic story about a young man from a Maithili village who finds Jesus as he struggles to make his way in the city. It’s a story of grace, perseverance, and hope.

Over twelve days in April, we laboured together, working alongside a cast of both professional and amateur actors, to capture this story. There were many challenges and last minute adjustments. One day began with a phone call that there was a local workers’ strike and that the roads were closed so we wouldn’t have access to a vehicle, which meant that we couldn’t shoot. This led to much confusion when we informed our translator that the driver was already at the hotel waiting for us! This was just one of many examples of how God made a way to get the footage that we needed.

At the same time, we saw God working in the local community – largely Hindu – that we were shooting in. He was building anticipation in people’s hearts for this film that was being made in their own village and in their own language. It was an unexpected side benefit to filming in this village: the very audience we were wanting to share the message with were getting excited for that message to come.

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Capturing the Work of the Birth Attendant School

Below is a reflection of a project from Richard, one of our past Create International staff members.

Towards the end of 2009, an opportunity opened up for me to make a film highlighting the work of the Birth Attendant School during an outreach in India.  The Birth Attendant School is a training program of YWAM Perth which focuses on reaching out to women and children in developing nations who have little or limited access to health care, especially related to childbirth. The film focused on a portion of the outreach where the school was assisting a hospital that drew pregnant mothers from the poorest of the poor in a mixed Hindu and Muslim community.

A co-worker from Create International and I spent time together in prayer and decided to film the project as ‘a day in the life’ of one of the students on the school. We arrived in India in February, started shooting and before long, the story began coming together. We had regular times of prayer for the project and found these to be especially important in maintaining focus and unity and keeping our passion fresh. 

Putting together the first half of the film was particularly easy. It got harder as I started to edit together the hospital sequence. It was challenging knowing how to take all the material we had filmed and put it together in a way that captured the sensitivity and depth of what God was doing in the lives of these families.

Through the process of making this film, God has shown me much more about Himself and what we can do to bring life and hope to those who are living and dying without knowing Him. The people of India have so much to offer the kingdom of God. There is a great spiritual hunger there that is being filled with endless amounts of empty ritual and perversion of the truth. We have an endless opportunity to show all the peoples of India the truth about their loving Creator.

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A Memorable Trip to Turkey

The following is a reflection from Nathan, one of our past staff members, on his time with Create International Perth.
 
As I reflect back on my years in YWAM I have to say my School of Frontier Media trip to Turkey in 2007 was one of my most memorable experiences. There are many reasons for this: the good team dynamic we had made it so much fun and I got to learn a lot about documentary film making. But the special thing about that project was learning more about the goodness of God from a family of Iranian believers that were in the midst of seeking refuge in Turkey.

We knew months in advance that we were heading to Turkey to help create contextualised videos that would assist in sharing the good news with Iranians. So I was excited to start researching past and recent Persian history and culture to get a better sense of who these people were.As I started looking into it, it became clear that, especially in 2007, Iran was continuing to develop a very negative reputation with the western world from a political viewpoint. The frequent reports in all forms of media about Iran were painting a picture in my mind that was making me uncomfortable with the idea of getting close to them. Yet I knew there was obviously more to the Iranians than what the media said, and that the policies of a government don’t always fully reflect the heart of a people, so I delved deeper into research and began to see the gifts God put in them.

By the time our team arrived in Turkey I was really looking forward to meeting Iranians. During our first week there I was asked to be a key person in a Video People Profile that would have me relating directly and closely with a family from Iran. I was super excited.

The family shared their incredible story of how they all came to faith in Christ one after the other, leaving behind a life of nominal Islam. The family had fled Iran years earlier and faced various harsh conditions along the way. In the midst of their troubles they suffered the loss of one of their twin boys due to sickness. The reality is that it would have been easy for them to have decided following Jesus wasn’t worth it as their circumstances hadn’t seemed to improve much since deciding to follow him.  But in spite of painful times they couldn’t deny they had found a freedom and a peace in their hearts from Jesus that they’d never known before.

I felt humbled and grateful for being able to go to Turkey and meet these people and hear their stories first hand. I realised there’s a whole generation of Iranians just like this family with similar testimonies of finding Jesus and holding on to Him in the midst of pain and suffering because He is true and He is good. I started to see a larger and more accurate picture of Iranians – that though they may face much injustice at times, God is still working through these situations to show families and individuals the unconditional love of the Father. Persians are discovering this love all across Iran and across the world.

I believe its clear from history that the Persians as a people have a gift of unrelenting determination to struggle through and survive intense antagonism from both outside and within their nation. This generation, more than ever, is using this gift from God to hold on to Christ no matter what, once they’ve found Him because they know they’ve found something precious and true. What I heard and saw from that one family in Turkey convinced me that God is working in Iranians’ hearts and is going to bring new life to Iran from the inside out.

As our time in Turkey wrapped up and we headed back to Australia I remembered the family’s stories and knew in a deeper sense that in spite of the great pain and suffering people are enduring, God truly is there with us all in the midst of it and is able to bring healing and rest to anyone that’s asking for it.

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