Diane Garvin is Program Coordinator of the Billy Graham Center Scholarship Program.
Let Your Fingers Do the Walking…
Who would have thought that producing children’s videos of fingers that are dressed up like little people would gain recognition from Christian producers and television stations around the world? Well, that’s what has happened with Asociación Viña’s project, Deditos, meaning “little fingers.” Through Deditos, this small production company, based in Sololá, Guatemala, seeks to empower indigenous Sunday school teachers through these half-hour series.
With the first six titles released this year, Viña is well on its way to their goal of 15 episodes, each containing a video telling an Old Testament Bible story. In addition to the Spanish originals, these will be produced in the language of the Kaqchikel people (a Mayan people group) and will include five lessons for each video, expanding the story for real-life application and an audio explanation for teachers who are not comfortable with reading.
Deditos drew international attention when it won two awards at the International Christian Visual Media Crown Awards—a silver for The Children of Abraham and bronze for Noah and the Flood—in the category of “Best International Film.” As a result, the Deditos videos will be dubbed into three major languages of India—Telegu, Tamil and Hindi—and broadcast on local Indian television. In addition, producers in major and minor language groups of Europe and Latin America are planning to dub Deditos episodes when more Spanish ones are produced.
Deditos writer and editor Sarah Agee graduated from Wheaton College in 2008, receiving the George and Helen Bennett Scholarship for Missionary Service through the Billy Graham Center. The scholarship allowed Agee, a missionary kid who grew up in Mexico, to consider full-time service with Viña Deditos in Guatemala after graduation. “My deepest passion is to love, understand, and serve the church in Latin America, and I hope to continue doing this for the rest of my life,” Sarah says.
Deditos, “little fingers,” is spreading all over the world to bring children to Jesus and to help grow their faith through storytelling and visuals. Often, God uses small things, like a children’s Deditos video, to produce young faith in the life of a child to his praise and glory. Praise God for fingers such as these and the creative minds to bring them to life.
What creative projects do you know about which God is using for his good and his glory? We would love to hear about it! Let's continue the discussion on our facebook page >>
Posted October 27, 2012
Karen Swanson is Director of the Institute for Prison Ministries at the Billy Graham Center.
Spiritual Retreat with Saints
I recently had the privilege of spending a week with ten committed ministry leaders in Montana at a camp overlooking Flathead Lake. Three of the mornings we were blessed to be with Eugene Peterson (see below where Lon Allison poses with Eugene). Our conversation with Eugene was about his writings and about life. One concern he expressed was the spirituality of narcissism—the idea that some spirituality has become elitist.
I have wrestled with this idea.
I agree that spirituality can be narcissistic if spiritual practices are only for the purpose and enjoyment of the individual and stop there. Both Mulholland and Barton describe spiritual formation “for the sake of others.” If spiritual formation does not result in a deeper love for others, sharing the gospel, being more generous, fighting for justice, etc., then as Barton claims, “it is not Christian spiritual formation.” While there are programs and degrees in spiritual formation that incur a substantial financial cost, that does not mean they are elitist, but rather that they are creating a space for certain types of leaders to be together.
I did feel privileged to have the week in the place and with the people. I will be praying about how to offer spiritual formation opportunities for those marginalized by society.
Another area Eugene spoke on was the practice of a Sabbath, one of my favorite spiritual practices. For him and his family, the Sabbath was to “pray and play.” His kids knew they did not have to make their bed or do chores that day. My Sabbath includes enjoying worship, friends, naps, and playing. I rarely, not to be legalistic, read email. What a wonderful gift from God.
Another highlight of the retreat was spending time with the group of leaders who have been together for ten years. They made me feel a part of their community. I not only witnessed but experienced Proverbs 27:17: “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” (Of course I had to quote from the Message. J) I know my life is sharper and richer for the time spent with these individuals.
How have your times with other leaders benefitted you? What's the key to healthy Christian growth? We would love to hear about it! Let's continue the discussion on our facebook page >>
Posted October 16, 2012
Lon Allison is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center.
I’ve been thinking about the idea of heaven and whether it is effective to talk about it with people far from God. I’ve heard several saying it isn’t. Some Christian leaders make light of those who preach or share about heaven saying things like, “We need to stop talking about the next life and focus more on God’s promises for this one,” or “People don’t care about the afterlife anymore, they want to bring heaven to this life.”
I see their point, but I believe they’re wrong. First of all, it tends to be only affluent westerners who want the focus to be on this life. That’s telling in and of itself. As I get older, my longing for heaven only grows. Part of the reason is because as I age I carry a cumulative sense of the world’s sorrows. I’ve been around for 60 years now. “The weight of this sad time, we must obey…the oldest hath borne most” (Shakespeare, King Lear). He said that well.
I also deeply miss saints who are gone. A dear colleague and brother, Sterling Huston, died in early summer. Much of our work at the Billy Graham Center is due him and his 30 years of chairing our Liaison Committee. But even more, I’ve said goodbye to both my parents this year. My father died in December and mom, just a month ago. I don’t yet have words for the loss. The death of loved ones is a grave assault on the soul. My folks both know Jesus. They are with him. I want to be with them and with Jesus. Heaven seems nearer, my desire more acute.
There is nothing escapist about longing for heaven. It may be that there is nothing quite as real as hoping for that good place.
What are you learning about heaven as you get older? We would love to hear about it! Let's continue the discussion on our facebook page >>
Posted October 8, 2012
Lonna Dickerson is Director of the Insitute for Cross-cultural Training at the Billy Graham Center.
Reaching Out to Neighbors from other Cultures
A few weeks ago I was talking with a lady about cross-cultural ministry. Her first response was similar to one I’ve heard quite often: “I think I might like to get involved in some way, but I’m afraid that I would say or do the wrong thing. I guess I just don’t know how to relate to people who seem, well, different from everyone I’ve ever known.”
I told this lady that her concerns were very normal and then encouraged her to begin to get acquainted with some of her neighbors who have come from other countries. She might find that these new neighbors would like to make friends with Americans, but they are reticent to take the first step.
I also encouraged her to consider volunteering through her church, preferably beginning with activities that allow for gradual involvement and engaging at her own pace. And I suggested that she read a very practical little book, A Beginner’s Guide to Crossing Cultures: Making Friends in a Multicultural World, by Patty Lane (InterVarsity Press, 2002). This book was written for laypersons who want to build healthy cross-cultural relationships, but like so many of us, don’t know where to begin. With lots of real life stories, readers gain important insights and also confidence that they can develop meaningful friendships with those from other backgrounds and cultures. I told her that this little book does exactly what it claims to do. It “demonstrates God's heart for building bridges across cultures and shows how you can reach out to people of every nation, culture and ethnicity.”
About a month after my first conversation with this lady, I heard from her again. She emailed me that she found the book an easy read and a real eye-opener. It gave her the confidence she needed to reach out to her neighbors. She wanted me to be the first to know that she had baked cookies for the neighborhood children on her block, and this led to meeting one of the mothers who speaks only a little English. She doesn’t know if a friendship will develop, but this lady feels encouraged that God can use her to show Christian love and compassion for her neighbors from other cultures. May this be the case with all of us!
What resources have you used to build your confidence in cross-cultural relationship-building? We would love to hear about it! Let's continue the discussion on our facebook page >>
Posted October 1, 2012