Missionaries learn to find beauty wherever they are, whether in nature, or in architecture, or in the faces of the people with whom they interact. These images come to you from SEND workers who not only notice beauty, but have the skill to capture it with a camera. SEND’s annual photo contest for our missionaries and missionary partners gets more popular each year, with 300 entries in 2018! Today, we reveal our honorable mentions, and next week, we’ll show you the three winning images.

***

‘Morning Fire,’ by C.G. in Southeast Asia

C.G. serves as Area Director for Team Hope in Southeast Asia. He and his family arrived on the field 23 years ago.

This photo was taken on the peak behind our ministry’s farm where we train local, struggling farmers to work with natural erosion-control techniques through terracing and reforestation, organic and rotational farming, organic livestock (goats, chickens, fish), vermicasting and organic composting. As we train them how to sustainably feed their families and manage well their soil for long-term use, we share the truths of God through his word and encourage them to discover God through his text.

We bring families to our farm for training and mentoring and then visit them in their villages for follow-up guidance. We will stay up late and share our stories about life and family and struggles. In the morning, over coffee and breakfast, conversations continue as we tell stories of the prophets from the Old Testament and how they point to the Messiah. The best conversations are next to a morning fire.

 

‘Community Chess,’ by B.A. in East Asia 

The A family works among Muslim college students in East Asia. They’ve been on the field for four years.

Chinese chess is a favorite past time for elderly men where we live. It is common to see public parks and squares full of men playing together. This picture was taken in front of a Daoist temple while prayer walking a city in East Asia with a short-term team.

 

‘In the Valley,’ by Dave B. in Siberia, Russia 

Dave and his family have lived in Russia for 11 years. He serves as SEND Russia’s Area Director.

The photo was taken just outside of Kyzyl, which is the capital of the Tuva region. A teammate and I were on an exploratory trip, and we went up onto a mountain outside the city with a local pastor to pray over the region/city. This was one of the sights from up there. It is a tourist place celebrating the Tuvan culture, which used to be nomadic.

 

‘Sunrise through the Storm,’ by Derrick Zuk in Alaska 

Derrick grew up serving with his parents overseas, and now has stepped into missionary work of his own. He took this photo from Hedrick Overlook in Grand Teton National Park before he moved to Alaska.

This photo was captured on one of many sunrise photo adventures while on staff at Jackson Hole Bible College in Wyoming. I hadn’t been able to capture much of the fall colors in prior years, so this photo was one of my attempts to get out that time of year when the aspen trees were in full golden array. I was blessed with stormy clouds and a gorgeous sunrise.

 

‘Blessings Bubble Up,’ by April McDonald in Poland

April serves through teaching English in Poland, where she has lived since October 2016. This photo was taken in the Wrocław Rynek (City Center).

I took this photo on a day where I was simply taking a walk, admiring the sunshine and sights, and taking time to thank the Lord for the positives and blessings in my life. It’s always good to make it a practice to take time to focus on the blessings God has given and to thank him for them. It’s helpful to store up joy and thankfulness for the inevitable hard times. I was admiring the joy on the parents’ and children’s faces as they played with bubbles.  

 

‘Glowing Leaf,’ by Brennan Ekstrand in Japan

Brennan, a senior at Christian Academy in Japan, has lived in Japan his whole life. His parents both teach at the school.

My photography teacher showed us photos of “glowing leaves,” which we were supposed to recreate for that day’s assignment. I took this picture in the plaza at our school. 

 

‘Race Day,’ by Amelia Klemm in Taiwan

Amelia is a new missionary studying Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan as she prepares to serve as a church planter there. Her family lives in Hong Kong, and she took this photo during a visit there.

I took this photo of the Dragon Boat Festival in Aberdeen Harbour in Hong Kong from my bedroom window in my parents’ house. This is one of my favorite holidays. For three years in Hong Kong, I was a member of a dragon boat team and after months of practice and preparation, would get up before dawn to go meet my team for the big race. These early, quiet mornings before the day’s events held so much anticipation. This year, I traveled from Taiwan back to Hong Kong to watch my old team compete and was again struck by the beauty of this morning. It was magical. Though my own races were on a beach in another area of Hong Kong, waking up and seeing my own small Aberdeen Harbour prepared for the race day, with its colourful flags marking out the course for the dragon boats, filled my heart with joy and excitement. This picture, this moment, brought back all the memories of morning stillnesses with their quiet anticipation before the frenzy of the dragon boat races.  

 

‘On the Path,’ by K.Z. in Russia

The Z family has served with SEND since 2001. They currently are engaging a security-sensitive unreached people group. This photo was taken in Teton National Park while they were visiting their sons in Wyoming.

The photo is of our son who at the time was preparing to move to a small community in the Arctic Circle. He serves there now as a full-time missionary with Kingdom Air Corps. When I saw him walking across the frozen river along the snowy path, I thought, “Here is a humble servant taking steps to go to a cold, harsh, lonely place for the sake of others.”

 

‘Waiting in Prague,’ by Chris Nite, appointee to Spain

The Nite family is raising support to serve as church planters in Spain. Last year, they took at vision trip to areas where SEND works in Europe to help them discern God’s leading.

This is my favorite picture from our vision trip to Europe. It is taken on the platform waiting for the tram. It is so typical of the Prague experience. Lots of people waiting, alone, for a metro, isolated and focused on a phone. Prague needs the Lord and is lacking in biblical community.

 

‘Light Breaks Through,’ by Daniel Buehler in Canada

Daniel has been working with First Nations men in a village in the Northwest Territories of Canada for 11 years.

SEND North’s Canada team had a retreat at Marsh Lake in October. At a morning break, I saw the fog on the lake. This photo catches the special mood of this morning.

 

‘Going Up,’ by Dave Benzel in Ukraine 

Dave serves as SEND Ukraine Area Director. He and his wife, Sharon, have worked with SEND since 1992, in Far East Russia and now in Kyiv.

“Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, continues to grow. New buildings are being squeezed into every available space. This new residential development went up in a swampy area of town that is starting to be reclaimed. A huge mall is going up next to it. This is one of three identical buildings that were only recently occupied, and this photo shows maybe one fifth of one building — 25 floors high, maybe 30-40 apartments on each floor, thousands of people moving in. No space remains for a new church building in this area, so a different approach will be needed to reach this new community with the gospel. My motivation for taking this photo was two-fold: amazement at the number of people living in this tight space and an interest in the geometrical patterns of all the windows and the color scheme of the building, as colorful buildings are unusual here.”

 

‘Mount Fuji Plays Peekaboo,’ by Darwin Stoesz in Tokyo, Japan 

Darwin and his wife, Karen, started their career service in Japan in 2008. The photo was taken from the side of Lake Yamanaka which is at the base of Mount Fuji.

“Mount Fuji is one of the most photographed mountains in the world, but the key to a great picture of Mount Fuji is to wake up really early in the morning. It was taken just across the street from SEND’s retreat location, Yamanaka Chalet.” 

***

Come back Tuesday to see the winning photos! And if any of these pictures inspire you to know more about becoming a missionary yourself, sign up for On Mission, our free, monthly newsletter for people considering global service.  

***

Past photo contest winners 

2017’s winners and honorable mentions.

2016’s winners and honorable mentions.