I love these photos. I can look at them over and over, each time imagining what it might feel like to be in these images — the water on my toes, the morning sun coloring my world, the tense anticipation before my friends launch me upward. We culled through more than 300 images to choose these three winners of SEND’s annual photo contest. Click here to see the 12 beautiful honorable mentions.  

‘Explorers,’ 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 western side of our island, about two hours east of where we serve. Our team was spending our annual meeting in the mountains near this island, which is populated by many tribal and Muslim groups, and we decided to go explore together.

Our team is quite global and complex (nine mother tongues on our team with staff and interns), and yet we live and work together as a covenant community where we practice unity in diversity, finding our identity as children of God, and showing mercy and forgiveness with each other.

Spending time together as a field, exploring our local creation and communities, brings deeper trust with one another. We often hear from the communities where we live and work that they are amazed by how we are so diverse as a team, and yet, they see and sense a strong love for each other. This love is attractive, and we seek at every level to strengthen our love for each other.


‘Pre-flight check,’ by Martin Hornfischer in Alaska

Martin and Silke Hornfischer serve as church planters in Alaska. Their ministry includes working with youth, as there is a boarding school in their city that draws young people from all over the state. They’ve been on the field since 2010.

This photo was taken after the NYO Games in Anchorage. Previously known as the Native Youth Olympics, the NYO Games include 10 events based on games that past generations of Alaska Native people played as a way to test their hunting and survival skills, increase strength, and maintain endurance, agility and the balance of mind and body. The Eskimo stick pull, for instance, is based on a strengthening exercise that Native hunters would do to prepare themselves for pulling seals out of the water. Although events are based on traditional Alaska Native activities, the competition is open to all Alaska students from seventh to twelfth grade, regardless of ethnicity.

In order to provide a healthy activity after the NYO Games, a SEND North council member started an after party; it gets bigger and bigger every year. 

This picture shows a traditional blanket toss, common on the coast of Alaska among Eskimos. The blanket toss originally was used by Eskimos at the flat coast to get a better look over the ocean in order to see whales coming in that would be hunted for subsistence. When everyone pulls the walrus-hide blanket, the person in the middle will be catapulted up in the air roughly 12 to 15 feet. The grey-haired gentleman to the left guides this group effort, which does require some coordination! At the capture of the picture, he is giving instructions to the person in the middle.

There are so many things I can learn from Native culture! Our society is glued to a little screen, where everything is about me (iPhone, iPod, etc.). It was great to see the teamwork and the joy in this activity, and teens who follow a senior leader and what they all together can accomplish that one person could never have done on his own.


‘Morning commute,’ 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 Thailand, where they were attending a conference.

Early mornings are my favorite times for photos! I love chasing the incredible light and colors that God puts on display. I was waiting in this location as fishing boats were coming in and out of a small canal — Thai fishermen on their commute to work!


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