Monday, December 26, 2011

Your Thoughts About Me

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 12/26/11

This photograph was taken in the midst of great sadness, yet portrays to me the wonderful knowledge of God's ever present help. We stopped at this little beach (east coast of Mauritius) on our way to the airport where we would put our new friend on a plane back to Germany. Our hearts were heavy with mixed emotions. The reality of the tears and pain caused by the death of her new husband on the 3rd day of their honeymoon, against the joy of being there for her while witnessing God's mysterious work, overwhelmed me.

As I took in this beautiful scenery, God spoke to me clearly through the words of Psalm 121. When I looked to the mountains, God whispered to my heart that He is not only my Helper - but our grieving, young friend's too.

Then my gaze shifted to the sand and Psalm 139 came to mind. His thoughts towards us are so precious and numerous. How can we even entertain the smallest idea of Him deserting us?

photographer: Cecile Sander, Mauritius

Monday, December 19, 2011

Beaded Necklaces and Dreamy Hair

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 12/19/11

The picture I submitted was from my husband and my last foray into another unknown. We recently took a trip up to South Sudan with one of our missionaries who works there. We were headed to a refugee camp called Kakuma. It is on the border of South Sudan and Kenya. Kakuma means NOWHERE! Need I say more? Fifteen kilometers of refugee homes and churches, NGOs and food distribution sites. But that's another story.

These women are from the Turkana tribe. They were on the way to the town near the refugee camp. These ladies know how to do jewelry! Piles and piles beaded necklaces laddering up their necks. And the no maintenance hair was dreamy! They just shave off the sides, braid the top and go! Inspiring!

photographer: Vera Steury, Kenya.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Now You're Just Showing Off!

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 12/12/11

I recently had the opportunity to serve with Women of the Harvest holding retreats in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. We welcomed missionaries from ten countries to a time of refreshment, counseling and pampering. These are the women one reads books or watches movies about, those I admire so greatly. They are a diverse, intelligent and inspiring sisterhood, pouring out their lives to bring the Good News to South America. Their stories were inspiring and heart-breaking in about equal measure.

The retreat speaker, Linda Swanson, taught on the topic of our identity in Christ. Whatever our other roles or titles-wife, mother, teacher, student-or what we are called by ourselves or others, we are first and foremost beloved by and beautiful in Christ - “God’s favorite daughter.”

Our amazing group of volunteers – as diverse and diversely talented as the attendees - spent a few days after the retreats visiting the spectacular series of waterfalls at the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. We stood in the spray and marveled- How Great Thou Art.” We took a boat ride to the foot of the falls and laughed and screamed and worshipped.

And wondered how anyone could look on such majesty and not believe in a Creator. The thunder of the water as it cascaded over and over; the energy of the air, the swallows that soar right through and into the torrent to their nests behind the falls. Then there would be a rainbow in the mist and I’d think, “OK, God, now you’re just showing off!”

I believe God creates beauty for His own pleasure and for ours. He intend for us to understand His nature by observing what He can form on the earth and in our hearts. We were reminded at the falls that He loves us so much that our world is full of joy and pain, laughter and tears and seemingly unlimited wonder.

photographer: Susan De Graaf, USA.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yellow Dress Girl

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 12/5/11

I always had my camera with me in Kenya, not only due to its value, but also because I didn’t want to miss a great picture. One quiet afternoon, I decided it would be my best chance to fit in my daily journaling. I sat on a rock close to my hut and started writing. A little girl, who lived in the orphanage where we were staying, had been playing a few yards away. I watched as she hopped off the rock and headed down to the soccer field. I had a quick thought that the color of the blue door behind her would contrast her yellow dress. I picked up my camera, took a picture of her as she walked in front of the door, and went back to journaling.

photographer: Kelsey Lane, USA. "I am a 16 year-old who has always loved living in Denver, Colorado. I am a cheerleader and a junior in high school at Front Range Christian School. Every year, my youth pastor offers the Kenya trip to whomever feels called to go. I asked God if I should go, thinking there wouldn’t be a reply, but there was. And it wasn’t a very specific answer; God said, 'Go to Kenya, I want to show you something.' I asked him again and again throughout the following weeks and each time I got the same response. So I told my youth pastor I wanted to go and started fundraising."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Like a Baby's Iron Grasp

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 11/28/11

When I was in Kenya, Pastor Francis, the man who started the orphanage where we stayed, told us about a woman, Rose, from his village. He told us her husband was murdered about two years ago during a civil war, leaving Rose with six kids and a mother-in-law to take care of, and a house that was literally falling apart before their very eyes.

We had the chance to help Rose demolish the house that burdened her. We were able to come together with others from surrounding homes to construct a new and safe home for her and her family. While the house was being brought down, one of the girls on my team was holding a neighbor’s baby. Another girl on our team saw the baby and couldn’t resist the temptation of playing with her. The baby reached out for my teammate’s finger and grabbed hold with the iron grip that babies have. I stared for a moment at how precious it looked. I reminded myself that it would look even better through the lens of my camera and snapped the photo.

Later that night lying in bed, I was looking through all the photos I had taken. I paused at this one. It was such a simple photo and a small part of my trip, but that did not suppress the excitement inside me. I looked forward to showing my friends and family back home.

photographer: Kelsey Lane, USA. "I am a 16 year-old who has always loved living in Denver, Colorado. I am a cheerleader and a junior in high school at Front Range Christian School. Every year, my youth pastor offers the Kenya trip to whomever feels called to go. I asked God if I should go, thinking there wouldn’t be a reply, but there was. And it wasn’t a very specific answer; God said, 'Go to Kenya, I want to show you something.' I asked Him again and again throughout the following weeks and each time I got the same response. So I told my youth pastor I wanted to go and started fundraising."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Picture-Postcard Perfect: Machu Picchu

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 11/21/11

I spent a week on the river with Amazon Medical Missions, traveling to small villages to set up clinics, distribute clothing and drill a well. We shared the Gospel, prayed with every family and washed their feet. I had a blast teaching little children to brush their teeth and doing fluoride treatments. The people were beautiful, and a pod of pink Amazon River dolphins spent a day playing alongside our boat.

I am blessed with a family that prays for me as faithfully every day as they do when I am on a mission and God’s grace was abundant as I spent a week touring Peru on my own. I fulfilled a lifelong dream and visited Machu Picchu, taking the train from Cuzco, then the bus to the top of the mountain. You are not allowed to board the bus without rain gear, as it rains every day, and many people see the ruins only through fog and mist.

I arrived at the top just as the sun broke through and the view was picture-postcard perfect: grass greener than green; grazing llamas; Andean condors and snow on the mountains in the distance. This remote Incan stronghold is one of history’s great mysteries and many find it mystic and spiritual. To me, it felt familiar, as though I’d been there before. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to see it, and the beautiful light that allowed me to enjoy and capture the moment.

photographer: Susan De Graaf, USA. Susan lives in a Norman Rockwell small town in Wisconsin and works in a busy Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Widowed when her daughter was tiny, she takes the most joy in having raised(and homeschooled) her to be a mighty woman of God in her own right. They spent a summer at an orphanage in Mexico, have done short term missions trips together and separately, and have had the privilege of visiting Christ in women's prisons. Susan loves to travel, read, walk and learn!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Look Forward to the Day

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 11/14/11

If you stand atop the Citadel, amid young boys flying kites and dodging the ancient pillars of Rabbath Ammon and Philadelphia, you can discern the clear divisions of modern Amman on the adjacent hills.

To the east, Palestinian and Iraqi refugees live in overcrowded, stacked apartments after fleeing from recent wars. To the west, sit high-rise buildings and affluent neighborhoods housing well-to-do Arab families, while still in another direction is a terraced hill inhabited by poverty stricken Jordanians.

Hospitable families in each neighborhood have opened their doors to me, welcoming me with kisses and food. They have shared their heartaches, their burdens, their losses... that often came at the hand of 'other' communities and 'other' Arab nationalities in the city. Each neighborhood, each people group, and each home carries a distinct burden.

Yet through their brokenness, Christ is revealing Himself to seekers in these neighborhoods: to the oppressed and angry as the Man of Peace, to the wounded as the Comforter and Repairer of Broken Walls, and to the empty as the Giver of Life.

I look forward to the day when the diversity of the city will no longer separate and divide, but become the radiance of Christ's Body.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creative and Colorful Creator

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 11/07/11

In June, my missionary family from "EurAsia" had a reunion. We all went to Germany for a time of refreshment, relaxation and rekindling of love for one another and those whom God has called us to serve. A time for sightseeing was also in the plan. Part of the team went to a bird park. It was a great adventure to be up close and personal with birds that otherwise would not be seen. There were birds from all around the world.

At the "parrot station," a parrot would walk up your arm and sit on your shoulder if you stretched your arm out to him. Some of the parrots were very crafty as they would either chew a shirt collar or purse strap. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the MKs be daring enough to allow a parrot to perch on them. Not all of the birds were photogenic so to catch some good shots made it all worthwhile.

I rejoice in the creativity of the Creator and the incredible color that He used in His creation. Parrots must really bring Him joy because their colors are so vibrant.

photographer: Jayne Russell, Ukraine. Jayne serves with SEND International in Ukraine and directs the Bachelor of Christian Education and Women's Ministry programs at Kremenchuk Regional Bible College.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Psalm 67: Ukranian Harvest

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 10/31/11

Each Fall in Ukraine, a harvest celebration takes place. It is called zhatva. A mountain of fruits and vegetables are the main attraction. Scripture is at the center of the display. This year, I was asked to help decorate. The morning of the decorating I read Psalm 67 and found it very appropriate for the day's activities. We rejoiced in God's bounty to us and providing us with food yet another year.

photographer: Jayne Russell, Ukraine. "I, too, rejoice at being in Ukraine. In November, I will celebrate 12 years on the field. I am glad to see the ultimate harvest as well."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Your Graying Years

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 10/24/11

It was the second weekend in to my ten-month stay in Russia, where I would be teaching English in a small city in western Russia. A very close Russian friend and I traveled to the "nearby" town of Voronezh - a four hour drive - to visit another friend of ours. It happened to be the 425th anniversary of the city, and we took the opportunity to see some of the sites, which most always includes the major cathedrals and churches, known throughout the world for unique architecture and symbolism.

Of course I viewed the inside, draped a scarf over my head, and stared up high into the golden filigree of the icons staring down at me, yet I caught myself wondering how many here actually know
Him. Does anyone know He truly loves, knows, seeks to uphold them?

And outside the gates I saw these two women, seemingly content in their Sunday afternoon routine, possibly selling seeds or trinkets for passersby near the grounds. It was the simplicity, after moments before experiencing the grandeur of the cathedral, that made me notice. They chose their position carefully - scarves covering their heads in a reverence that was surely routine, but also meaningful - deeply necessary. What did these women know about the God of those cupolas, the God of my life? Perhaps I would do well to learn from their faith, made stronger by lives of hardship and devastating change. And the Lord in this moment reminded me of His specific love for each one of his children - from the recent college graduate with eyes open wide to the weathered old women with eyes narrowly focused... oh, that we would be looking in the same direction.

photographer: Juliana Jordon, Russia. "I'm teaching English for the year in a small city in Western Russia."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Come to the Waters

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 10/17/11

I was visiting this village in Burkina Faso, Africa. I was amazed that most of the villages have wells built by many different organizations who sponsor those who need water for their health. I watched the villagers come from the field where they were working and being able to drink good water. Their health has improved so much because they are taking care of themselves.
photographer: Linda Ellis, Burkina Faso. "I am currently living in Burkina Faso to help the teachers who work with the students with hearing loss for one year or so."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bears our Burdens

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 10/10/11

While serving as a nurse in a Yanomami jungle village in Northern Brazil I would sometimes go walking to visit a sick baby, a discouraged mother or anyone who happened to be at home. I often had my camera in hand. I took this picture of Maikox because I liked the jungle frame around him. He was returning after gathering leaves and twine to be used in the thatch roof on a new house.

The more I looked at the picture later it reminded me of the less visible burdens we often carry. This particular man has heard many times about the God who offers to take his burden of sin, but sadly he chooses to continue being weighed down and destroyed by its weight. As believers we are so blessed to be able to walk freely, having handed our burdens to a strong God! Let's not grow weary in sharing and living that message! The Lord will work in people's hearts in His time.

photographer: Debbie Murphy, Brazil. “I am a nurse and I worked for 8 years in this Yanomami village in northern Brazil. I did medical work in the village as well as Bible teaching with the women.”

Monday, October 3, 2011

Knowledge of the Glory

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 10/3/11

While in Australia, we took a tour of The Great Ocean Road. This route, along the southern edge of the continent, is beautiful and inspiring while being wild and somewhat brutal. To the north, an enormous continent of extremes; to the south, fierce icy water; next stop, Antarctica. As we are from the northern part of the US, everything in Australia was foreign and mysterious - whole species of trees and animals found nowhere else on earth.

We were about as far from home as it's possible to be, yet we were not separated from the love of Christ. That ocean was created by our Father; His voice roared in the water, even the koalas call Him Lord. We were in awe of His power and proud to belong to the Creator of this wild beauty. We are aware of His presence with us wherever we go. When we worship with Christians there, or in Africa or South America, we are home.

photographer: Susan DeGraaf, US

Monday, September 26, 2011


STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 9/26/11

This picture was taken one day when I was out for a walk on la rambla (a walkway) along the coastal shore of Montevideo. This walkway is a refuge for me as I love feeling like I have escaped the busy city life and am out in nature enjoying the great outdoors. It's true, I'm a country girl living in a big city...and la rambla is my 'great outdoor' adventure!

I have been working in this city as part of a church planting team for almost two years. I regularly like to go for a run or walk along la rambla and be reminded of the beauty of God's creation. God's artistic work in the majestic skies above, the rolling seas, the sandy beaches, and the flowers of the fields declare God's glory in a city where the people pride themselves in being atheist and have not yet repented or turned to their Heavenly Creator and Savior. I am reminded daily that if the people will not sing praises to their Creator, the rocks will cry out. Creation is singing unto its Creator and declaring His glory!

O that the creation and handiwork of God displayed along the coast of Uruguay will draw Uruguayans to confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead! What a day it will be!!

photographer: Rebecca Zurbrick, Montevideo, Uruguay.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Formerly | Now

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 09/19/11

The day I took this picture I was walking around the homes near mine, visiting with any women who might be home. I took a picture of Mitiele, the little child in the photo, from a bit of a distance because I knew she would quickly crawl to her mother inside as I approached.

The Yanomami people in this village (and throughout Venezuela and Northern Brazil) live in fear of spirits and try please the spirits in order to avoid sickness and harm. The darkness and fear in their lives is almost palpable sometimes. In this village of Palimi-U, as translation of the Bible progresses and years of Bible teaching begins to take root, God's light is shining in the lives of the believers.

Mitiele's parents are believers and her father has become a strong leader in the church. He also helps with Bible translation work and has traveled to a neighboring village to teach and challenge the people there as well. It is a tremendous challenge for the Yanomami to walk as children of light within their culture, but by God's grace it is possible!

photographer: Debbie Murphy, Brazil. “I am a nurse and I worked for 8 years in this Yanomami village in northern Brazil. I did medical work in the village as well as Bible teaching with the women.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shining in Our Hearts

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 9/12/11

This photo was taken April 24, 2011 on Pondol (pun-dole) Beach, Negros Oriental Island in the Philippines. The body of Christ from the local mountains came down before sunrise and we worshipped the Lord together at 5 a.m., remembering the day Jesus rose again (Resurrection Sunday). Once the sun was out, Pastor shared some Scriptures about baptism and 15 were baptized that day - Hallelujah!

photographer: Theresa Frazier, Dumaguete, Philippines.

Monday, September 5, 2011

More Valuable

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 9/5/11

This bird picture was taken last November when I was borrowing the wonderful camera of one of our missionary colleagues. :) I usually sit by the window in our guest room to have my morning devotions and drink my coffee and this colorful saffron finch, along with sparrows, robins and other birds, would often come and perch on top of the concrete posts which make up the fence around our small front yard. When I saw how beautifully this photo turned out - thanks to the camera - I knew it would be perfect for one of the "fotocards" which I frequently make. I usually put Portuguese verses on them but I made this one especially for a friend of mine in Canada who is going through some serious physical problems. She used to sing "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" so I knew this was the perfect photo to make a card for her!

photographer: Rena Nunley, serving in south Brazil with Baptist Mid-Missions.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Making Darkness Light

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 8/29/11

My first night in the city as the call to prayer rang out, I was in awe. The etherial sunset behind the famous blue mosque, its Adhan echoing the others, and the smell of shwarma below enchanted me. I couldn't miss the chance to capture it on camera.

This roof became the place where I would sleep on hot summer nights, hang my laundry, grill Arab barbeque with my neighbors, make penny wishes with visiting college students, and worship with my roommate.

Over time as I began to feel the weight of Islam and the chains it held on my friends and neighbors, listening to the call to prayer on my roof became an act of faith... trusting that one day His Voice will be heard above any loud speaker and will call true worshippers to Himself. Not because of me, who neither began the work nor will finish it, but because of His faithfulness to a work that is ancient.

My roommate and I often stand on the roof overlooking the city, imagining our praises and prayers mingling with those ancients (Moses, Aaron, the 12 tribes, and many whom we have never heard) who worshipped and prayed on this very same sand just a few thousand years earlier. We picture God, who exists outside of time, receiving all of our praises as one as they rise up together from the desert of Jordan.

There are some days when I look out and all I can see of this current city is sprinkled with mosques. Yet when I remember those who have gone before us, my 'faith eyes' can almost see the completion of 'Ancient Work' when one day my Arab friends will join with us in the great multitude of worshippers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

little guy | Big Story

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 8/22/11

Can you imagine asking a child if he wants more bread or just candy, and he answers, “Just bread, please”? We minister to Quechua children in the valleys of Bolivia and in remote mountain villages. Every Christmas we travel to villages high in the Andes Mountains, above the tree line; we take gifts, food and the Good News to children living without even the basic needs, and without Jesus.

Little Paco met us coming into his village. He was wearing little sandals made of truck tires and no sweater for the cold weather. We put clothes on his back and food in his stomach. His eyes lit up when he saw the gifts and candy but what he wanted most was the bread; a real treat where there’s no firewood to bake bread. When he heard the story of Jesus he accepted the gift of salvation joyfully and without hesitation.

Paco is just a little guy but with a big story that points the way to heaven; trust the Father, believe in Jesus and enter the kingdom with childlike faith. Paco may only have bread when we visit but he will always have the Bread of Life.

photographer: Peggy Cunningham, Bolivia

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Power of the Son

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 8/15/11

Here in Lithuania, the winters are long. And the winters are dark. Very dark. We spend the fall enjoying every last minute of sunlight we can soak in as the days get shorter and shorter. In late December the sun won’t rise until after 9 am and it sets again by 4 pm. The winter weather is often gray and gloomy, making it a hard place to live in the winter. It can feel oppressive.

But sometime around late February, we start noticing a lengthening of days. A couple extra minutes of sunlight in the evening can feel like hours with the amount that we’ve missed it! And then the sun starts meeting me through my window during my early morning devotion time…and before I know it, I come downstairs for devotions with full sunlight streaming through my windows! Spring is a time of rejoicing: new growth, new life, new LIGHT!

This sunset photo was taken in late April around 8:30 pm. Every day gets longer and longer until July – when the sun won’t set until after midnight and starts to rise again by 3:00 am. Summer in the Baltics is a joyful time because of the sunlight! We try to soak up as much as we can and put it on reserve—llike a built-in solar panel—to save for the winter.

But sadly, it never lasts. Lithuania has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. It can be a sad, sad place to live—especially in the winter. But this is why my family and I are here— to share the hope we have in Christ with university students who grew up in post-Soviet countries like this one. And it’s because of this hope that we can praise His name—during the darkest winter or the sunniest summer!

photographer: Kim Stave, Lithuania.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Height of Worry

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 8/8/11

This picture was taken while I was attending a conference for United Christian Broadcasters in South Africa. At the conference, various radio broadcasters representing radio stations around the world--especially those in the Sub-Saharan portion of Africa--were discussing how to reach dying and crying humanity, the lost, with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My heart broke regarding the lack of access to basic physical food and spiritual food for these people groups.

Afterwards during a scheduled break, I see the graceful, long-necked giraffe off to the side near the group of trees. The giraffe is contently munching on some tasty green leaves. Oh how effortless it looks and how natural it is; the Lord has given the giraffe the provision of a long neck to easily access nourishing food. Oh, that I would trust and concentrate on His provision and not let the cares of the world rob me of His perfect plan and purpose for my life and the lives of all that He has created.

photographer: Dawn Stallings, Golden Rule Broadcasting

Monday, August 1, 2011

Learn. Seek. Defend.

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 08/01/11

One day I went with my friend to her village to a naming ceremony for the baby of a relative of hers. While there we went to visit my friend's mom. Her mom asked me to take this picture. It was dark in the house, but light was shining in from the door, making the perfect light for this picture.

photographer: Nancy DeValve, Niger. "My husband and I are cross-cultural workers in Niger."

What's NEW this Week @ WOTH:

*WOTH onlineMagazine: Have you read the July/August 2011 issue? Serving Him is wild and unpredictable : Read "Kidnapped" and "To Be Wanted: Sex and the Lure of a Text."

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Eyes Can See

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 07/25/11

I captured this picture of my son and a friend one afternoon as we picnicked at a scenic lookout over our mountain city. The giant cross is visible from nearly every neighborhood in the town below, backlit by the early sunrise, and reflecting the last rays of daylight as the sun sets over the mountains on the other side of the valley. Frequently as an afternoon rain shower ends, a double rainbow appears to spring up from the cross into the blue sky above. I can see this cross right now as I gaze out the window of my home office, and it stands as a daily reminder of what should be the top priority not only in our work as Scripture promoters among the Quechua people, but also in my personal life: to set the Lord always before me.

photographer: Rachel Yanac,Wycliffe Bible Translators, Peru

What's NEW this Week @ WOTH:

*Weekly Word e-Bible Study--New series on I Corinthians: Paul's Principles for Churches, by Pat Laube. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18). Power-up women and strengthen your walk with Him!

Weekly Word is free and delivered to your Inbox every Wednesday. Sign up by clicking here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Wide

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 7/18/11

It’s funny when you are in a foreign country where you don’t know the language. I do village nursing and physio in these small communities, sometimes going far up mountainous areas. I was on a walk trying to discover it on my own, without an interpreter, seeking to find out what this village was about. I had just met some kids who had just got out of school, as I was taking some pictures of beautiful scenery. The kids were following me on their scooters, being very adept and showing off some of their tricks by not going over some cliffs on the narrow roads! As we arrived at the village they were saying goodbye, but wanted me to take a picture of them first.

Usually everyone wants to do the “victory” sign in a photo and they actually automatically posed with this. I didn’t want this pose so I started showing them to do something different – like, for example, flying like an airplane. So I just caught them in the action! They loved to see their pic - so good of an opportunity to get to know them. And they were also getting to know me too! I hope I started a different trend too!

Just as a side note: that road was later closed to foreigners. It shows we have to take the opportunity when it is there.

photographer: Lynn T., RAC

Monday, July 11, 2011

Planted & Placed

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 7/11/11

Having served in rural Kenya, I am drawn to the work friends do in the more rural parts of Indonesia. While I was working at an international school in Jakarta, I visited dear friends who have been working among a people group in a less open-minded part of this country. Early one morning, my friend showed me the path where her morning walk would take her... It was early enough for the sun to cast long shadows on the rice paddies. Of the 8 million people in this area, only a couple hundred are believers.

photographer: Adele Booysen, Java, Indonesia

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hanging in the Balance

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 7/04/11

We work in rural northern Bangladesh with The Leprosy Mission International. On the day I took the photo, we were headed to a village to visit one of our community-based rehabilitation groups. The car had gone as far as possible and the rest of the journey was taken on foot. These groups of about 10-15 members meet monthly to save money, assist each other in caring for their leprosy-affected feet and hands, and address other needs they may have. Bridges over rice fields like this are quite common. Actually, this one is quite sturdy, having been built to accommodate rickshaws, not just foot traffic. The tenuousness of life here – where houses, bridges, and lives are daily hanging in the balance – is a constant reminder of God’s sustaining hand.

photographer: Sherilyn Bowers, Bangladesh.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Right or Left

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 6/27/11

This was taken at Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge near Vancouver, Canada when I was there visiting my brother in January 2010. He took the picture of me without me knowing – and I like the way it looks like I am walking into the unknown, and that there is only one way to walk... it reminded me of this verse in Isaiah.

photo submitted by: Belinda Chaplin, Bosnia. "I am a South African, working in Bosnia with YWAM. I am involved in English teaching and Humanitarian aid and work with the local Protestant Church. I have been here almost 10 years now."

It's the season of travel: furlough, vacation, re-locating. Read the article, "Easing Airport Stress: 7 Great Tips to Emotions from Taking Off" by Gwen Klontz, Bolivia, and experience a new [peaceful] way to glide through the airport as you head to your next destination.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Never Thirsty

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 6/20/11

We were headed up there to visit when we had to stop and assess the condition of the 'road' which was going through the river. These ladies were delighted to have fresh, clean water running over the rocks. It made it so much easier for them to scoop out instead of having to dig deep into the sand like they normally do during the dry season.

photographer: Vera Steury, Kenya. "My husband and I have been in Kenya now for 24 years. We work with the Maasai tribe in a remote area of Kenya. We do community-based health care (immunizations, HIV/AIDS counseling, clean water projects). I teach Sunday School, homeschool my own kids, and run a small guest house. My husband was born in Kenya as a missionary kid. All three of our children were also." You can visit Vera @

from the pages of the May/June '11 issue of the WOTH onlineMagazine:

"The Lasagna Fiasco: Tasting Humility One Bite at a Time" by Betsy C., Turkey.

One reader's response from the Message Board: "Thank you for the reminder about the impact pride has on how we respond to comments and actions of others! I needed that"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Patagonian Strength

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 6/13/11

This is a picture of the Torres del Paine in the national park of the same name in Patagonia, Chile. As I look on them I recognize that they have stood for thousands of years and while they are weathered they stand strong and firm. And the verse that comes to mind each time I view them is "The name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe." Proverbs 18:10 He has the strength that I need to get me through the trials and hardships. He is my strong tower.

photographer: Jacolyn Bursmeyer, Chile.

from the pages of the May/June '11 issue of the WOTH onlineMagazine:

"Loving Arabs Without Losing Myself"...staring into my closet I wondered, " What outfit would produce the least amount of comments?" by Robin W., Jordon.

One reader's response from the Message Board: "This is a wonderful spirit and change of heart attitude to proclaim. Many years ago I lived in a major Western European city, and the troubles I experienced as a young female among a sea of North African Muslim men were deeply disturbing. I must say it took me many years, even while living in the US again, before I overcame my feelings of anger and hatred toward these men. I asked God to help me feel compassion. It was not easy. Thank you for sharing your heart and desire to love those who mistreat you through no fault of your own"

Monday, June 6, 2011


STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 6/6/11

This picture was taken in the famous bullring in Sevilla, Spain. This area of Spain is the birthplace of bullfighting and visited by thousands every year. While we sat and enjoyed the view, a perfect piece of rainbow began to form even though there was no rain. Everyone sat quietly and marveled at it. It lasted a few minutes, and then it was gone.

photographer: Chantelle McIver, International Worker in Niger, Africa.

from the pages of the May/June '11 issue of the WOTH onlineMagazine:

"My Struggle to Walk in Peace"...false accusations were wrecking havoc on me. By Kimberly Johnson, South America.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mindful of Us

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 5/30/11

I took this shot out of a train window traveling through extreme western China on our way to Kashgar. The man in the photo looked so alone in the midst of such an expansive grassland. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that he is holding a sickle in his hand.

photographer: Nancy Todd, US. "My husband, Terry, and I are on staff with Barnabas International. We are privileged to do pastoral care of global servants living in Asia and Africa."Link

from the pages of the May/June '11 issue of the WOTH onlineMagazine:

"I'm Not Interested in Getting Married: The Joy of Serving as a Single...Really!" by Hahassah, Asia.

One reader's response from the Message Board: "Thank you for the clarity and insight which you brought to the topic of marriage and singleness in this article. I will be showing it to several friends."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hey Bro!

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 5/23/11

This picture captures two aspects of life here:

1) Ben's [my son] happiness at having a good friend. He'd felt rather friendless after some of the friends he'd had when we first moved here moved away to other mission assignments with their families. Ben had really been struggling last year in school and with deep sadness. This picture captures the essence of healing, a glad heart, and joy. For me, it was good to see my son smiling and happy. "A glad heart makes a cheerful face..." (Proverbs 15:13).

2) The second aspect this picture captures the essence of our life here in the Philippines—DIVERSE—filled with wonderful friends from many nationalities. We are blessed. This picture was taken on the track and field day at Faith Academy, an international Christian school for missionary kids he goes to here in Davao.

photographer: Beth Symanzik, Philippines. “We moved overseas over 4 years ago. This is our first time overseas. Our oldest daughter was 12 when we moved here. Now she is 16 and loves it here! Our family has been through many changes and stresses. We came over as a family of 5 and are now a family of 7; we’re in the process of adopting twin boys. We've had them since they were 9 weeks old. They are 3 years-old now. My husband works as a software developer in our mission organization. I have been guest house manager and hospitality coordinator. Currently I am being a full-time mom and also working on a masters degree in counseling.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grand Faith

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 5/16/11

Doña Concha loves her children and grandchildren. She has been a grandmother who gives affection as well as discipline. We see her here with one of her many grandchildren. Pedrito is a bright, inquisitive child always on the move, yet all that activity stops when it is time for a hug from his dear “Mama Conchita.” How reassuring are frequent hugs throughout the day. He will often intertwine his hands in her long silvery braid, as so many young children naturally do with the hair of their mothers and grandmothers.

photographer: Denise Aulie has called Mexico home for 34 years and looks back at a significant life of ministry in evangelism, discipleship and church planting with her husband, Ed, and their five children. Denise teaches, public speaks, writes and has an ongoing ministry of hospitality. Photography has an indispensable place in her heart as a means of interaction, outreach and giving to those she has the privilege of knowing. This beautiful tool has literally opened doors for conveying the Good News. She and her family are part of Last Frontiers -

Monday, May 9, 2011

He Cares...He Really Cares!

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 05/09/11

This beautiful little wild flower was growing up between the concrete blocks of our back patio where we hang the laundry. It was a huge reminder to me of God's sovereignty and infinite care. As Scripture reminds us..."and if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.”

He cares that I am still in the turmoil of cultural adjustment as we've only been living here for seven months. He cares that I still don't understand the language. He cares that I miss my friends. He cares for my kids as they attend a Spanish-speaking school even though they don't yet speak Spanish. He cares that I can't find Cheerios in the grocery store. He cares that we have left everything familiar behind to follow Him into the unfamiliar.

That single flower growing up in an unlikely place served as a reminder that God cares and He is walking this journey with me and my family as we seek to love and obey Him in Nicaragua (Central America).

photographer: Bethany Bracht, Managua, Nicaragua

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bread Alone

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 05/02/11

Psalm 104 splendidly describes God's greatness, generosity and amazing creation. Living in rural Europe, I can relate to this psalm...clouds, mountains, livestock, wine and bread. Once I was watching the Jesus film (in Italian) with the daughter of cross-cultural workers.

"Man shall not live by bread alone!" she translated.

"Oh?" I asked.

"You should have wine with it!" she quipped.

That's a European MK for you! I’d be happy to have just bread, if only I could find a good hearty one here in the U.S. After a year of home assignment, I can't wait to get back to Bauernbrot (farmers’ loaf) and chewy crusts!

I have friends who compare Europe to less developed locales and feel I live in “Disneyland.” Yes, Europe is clean and quaint, but it is still a needy field. says about Germany: "The Church is sometimes perceived as irrelevant and marginalized. There is increased open hostility to anything Christian, and the occult and a New Age worldview are on the rise, but evangelicals are slowly growing in numbers." That's why I feel privileged to serve at a Christian school, in Germany, ministering to children of cross-cultural workers to Europe, Africa and Asia.

Mari Ellen Reeser, Germany.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday is Laundry Day

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 04/25/11

The city of Valparaíso sits facing the Pacific coast, one of the chief ports of Chile. It is built on a series of hills and gullies. There are more than forty hills and to pass from one to the other, one has to go up to the top of hill or down to area at the waterfront. Houses built on the sides of the hills seem to defy gravity. The houses have no patios or garden areas where clothes might be hung so the string their clothes line out the window. Painting these houses is no easy task but the people want to make their city attractive. Many talk about the sights and the sounds and the smells of Valparaíso. Each is unique but unable to be captured by a photograph.

It was to this city in November of 1959 my wife, Evelyn, and I, along with our daughter Kathleen, arrived by boat. It was not to be our place of residence as we were embarking on our missionary work. However, we have returned often to visit churches in the area. We also have returned with visitors from abroad who never find enough time to take in all there is to see in the city, even scenes showing washing hanging from windows of colorful houses hugging the hillside. This picture was taken from a street on one side of the gully. Steps close by were available to walk down and across to the other side.

Photographer: David Jones, Chile. “Our home is inland in the city of San Felipe which lies in the foothills of the Andean mountains where the main highway connecting Chile to Argentina runs. We have nothing but praise to God for His keeping care for more than fifty-one years of missionary work. Each city presents a need that only Christ can satisfy and we seek God’s help to fulfill that need with the preaching of the gospel.”

Monday, April 18, 2011

Flowers Appear

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 04/18/11

On Sunday afternoons, I take my camera for a walk. It is part of my "resting." Resting for me comes in what brings joy to my heart. Photography is a hobby. Flowers are my favorite things to photograph. There are many wonderful gardens to photograph here. My "spiritual metaphor" is flowers and weeds. God uses nature to help me to see his full plan for my life. Flowers are things that I intentionally put in my life and cultivate to help me grow. Weeds are things that are in my life and often not by choice. Those weeds help me to grow as well and in different ways. One day the Master Gardener will cultivate the harvest in my life and separate the weeds from the flowers.

Jayne Russell, Ukraine. “I have been in Ukraine for eleven and half years with SEND International. For the past six and half years, I have taught at Kremenchuk Regional Bible College in Kremenchuk, Ukraine (4 hours south of Kiev). I teach and direct the Christian Education and Women's Ministry programs at the college. I designed the Women's Ministry program while in graduate school. We are finishing the first group this year as a two year program, Next year, we will enroll students for a Bachelor level (4 years) program in Women's Ministry and Educational Ministries. Students take the courses on a 'modular' basis so applying what they learn is always fresh.
I love what I do....though grading papers is the hardest part. As a single woman, I am thrilled to be able to serve God in this capacity. In my "spare" time, I do a craft class for the kids at church on Saturday mornings and sewing class in the afternoons. Twice per month, I host a cooking/baking class for young moms. They love the fellowship and new recipes. There is time for good discussion while whatever is cooking/baking, then we eat!”

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Burden is Light

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 04/11/11

After almost 10 years in Africa, I’m so used to men and women carrying huge loads on their heads. Once in a while, though, an exceptional load catches my eye and almost immediately the verse came to my mind. Especially women carry heavy ‘loads’ here, in all kinds of ways. It’s my prayer that their burdens could be lighter and they would find peace for their souls. I shot this picture on a family vacation at the coast of Ghana.

Photographer: Ineke Van Dingenen, Burkina Faso. “I’m a mother of 4 girls and my husband is a doctor. We’re missionaries with Tearfund Belgium to Burkina Faso, West Africa. Our mission is to make good quality medicine available to all, including the poorest. I must say we are really stuck to our computer these days to follow on internet what happens in neighboring country Ivory Coast. We had quite a week last week here too with curfew, soldiers shooting in the air all night etc… there’s a lot going on nowadays, isn’t it? It’s good to know God has everything in his hands!”

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cheery Cherries

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 04/04/11

It was the height of autumn when I arrived in this city 6 months ago, and I was dazzled by the colorful abundance of fruit and berries growing everywhere. This photo was taken in a local park I walked through every day on my way to the mission base. It's a cerisier sauvage (wild cherry tree), a favorite with the local birds but - sadly - not for human consumption. Doesn't it look amazing - all that fruit... and no leaves!

photographer: Kathy Day, France. "I'm a single Australian WOTH, working in France with a media Mission team to produce radio, TV and Internet material for church planting across North Africa and the Middle East."

What's NEW This Week @ WOTH:

*WOTH Book Club: Starts TODAY...hop over to the blog and see what our Blog Host, Linda Swanson, is saying about our latest read, The Help.

*WOTH Retreats: Registration is now OPEN for our two remaining 2011 Retreats.

The Furlough Retreat @ Glen Eyrie, CO on July 11-14

The Fall Retreat @ Foz do Iguacu, Brazil on October 16-19 & 20-23

Monday, March 28, 2011

Giggling Girls

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 3/28/11

I was on a walk taking photographs in a village near my house one late afternoon when these four girls met me on their way home from school. They smiled and we exchanged greetings, pausing for a moment, and then they kept walking. Soon I heard them giggling and coming back towards me. They appointed the oldest girl to speak for them, and she said they wanted to shake my hand. (They don't often encounter foreigners, especially that they can talk to ;) They all giggled as I shook their hands and asked them a few questions about school that day. As they turned and ran down the road, I snapped this photo. I only wished it captured the sound of their laughter!

photographer: Gretchen Zens, Poipet, Cambodia.

What's NEW this Week @ WOTH:

*New Book Club starts next Monday: The Book--The Help. Click through for more details and book discounts!

*New Blog goes live next Tuesday: "Yellow Dress: and other things we do for Love", hosted by a young, single woman serving in the Middle East. Promises to tap into a whole new point of view for women serving cross-culturally.


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