2011 in Review

I wanted to share with you a review of what GemStone was able to accomplish this past year thanks to the generous giving and praying of our supporters, and the incredible grace of our Lord.  A lot has happened this year, and I’m sure I’ve missed somethings, but this should give you some idea of what we’ve done.

Hari’s Story

In October, a colleague and I headed off to Bulgaria for ten days to shoot our first “God Story” video.  A short documentary about how God is at work — in this particular case about how he is working in the life of one Bulgarian man to see many people come to Christ.  It’s a huge ambitious project which is still ongoing.  However, in an effort to maximize our resources, we’ve already been able to complete several smaller related projects using the materials from this shoot.

While we worked on the documentary, another one of our colleagues put together this compilation of footage for a meeting of Greater Europe Mission’s board.  It does a nice job of capturing the flavor of Hari’s ministry.

Hari in Bulgaria (2 minutes and 8 seconds)

We also posted an article about Hari and the trip to GEM’s website.

Finally, while we were there, Hari asked us to produce some training videos on how to use the Evangecube in Bulgarian — since it’s proving to be a tremendously effective tool in rural eastern Bulgaria.  So we produced these five videos, all in Bulgarian, each with a slightly different focus.  I was also able to use this project as a training project for our Graphic Design intern who wanted to learn a little bit about video production.

Be warned, all of these videos are in Bulgarian.  🙂

Long Version  || Short Version || Muslim Version 1 || Muslim Version 2 || Instructional Version

Reach the World

Probably my favorite part of this year was working on this video.  The goal was to demonstrate the vast differences in culture and belief that exist in Europe and the tremendous potential that exists here to reach people from all over the world for Christ.

Reach the World  (2 minutes and 15 seconds)

We had an intern working with us on the project and he put together a great glimpse of some of the work that went into this.

Behind the scenes

Creation to Christ

Creation to Christ or C2C is a 15 minute Gospel presentation where you share the entire story of the Bible with someone so that they can see how Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of all that God intended from the beginning of time.  This fall, our graphics team put together a fantastic series of beautiful visual aids to accompany the presentation either as part of a booklet, or on your smart phone.  They also set up a web site where you can get the visuals installed on your phone for free.  You can see one of the visuals on the right, or go to the site and see them all.  If you’re interested in reading the Creation to Christ story, there’s a PDF file you can download here.

“First Steps in the Faith” Discipleship Book

Our graphic design department also put together this wonderful discipleship booklet for use by new believers in Portugal.  My Hope is a televised Billy Graham crusade that aired this past December.  Believers were challenged to invite friends and family into their homes to watch the television program together.  At the end of the program, they shared brief testimonies and invited people to accept the Gospel.  The “First Steps in the Faith” book was put together in conjunction with My Hope  to provide a study in Portuguese for those who accepted the Gospel following the program.





Zaporozhye Bible College and Seminary

We did a massive project this year for the Zaporozhye Bible College and Seminary.  Our graphics department designed a new logo, some lovely printed materials and a new web site for the school, while a colleague and I flew to Ukraine and produced a promotional video in Russian.

You can see the video here in Russian.  (3 minutes and 23 seconds)

We also put together an English Version, but be warned, this was really made for a Russian speaking audience, and it does not translate very well.  Particularly the music and voice work carry a very different message to westerners.  English Version

Here is one of the new ZBCS brochures:

And a sample image from their new web site:

London 2012

GEM is working hard to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity that the 2012 Olympics represent to reach people for the Gospel.  So a GemStone team was dispatched to London to capture some of the exciting preparations going on there, and interview some key strategic partners.

London 2012 Promo Video (3 minutes and 5 seconds)

Supplementary Interviews:

Henry Deneen, GEM President || John Burns for “More Than Gold” || Andy Flannagan || Peter Farmer from “Simple Church”

Steve Smith Training

Steve Smith from the International Missions Board travels all over the world teaching an evangelism technique called Training for Trainers or T4T.  GEM worked together with Steve to have a T4T seminar in Basel, Switzerland, and GemStone was asked to capture all ten days of Steve’s training in a multicamera video shoot.

I worked the technical details, doing the planning and problem solving work to make the event possible, before stepping away to greet arriving family for Brittany’s high school graduation, and then the rest of the team stepped in to do the heavy lifting of capturing the conference.

What Would It Look Like?

A good chunk of my year was dedicated to animation work.  You can see some of that in this video that we put together as part of a three prong recruiting strategy for our headquarters.

What Would It Look Like?  (1 minute 21 seconds)

Support Tools

Our graphics department has put together a fantastic array of themed support raising materials for GEM missionaries.  Missionaries need only submit a photograph and a few paragraphs of text, and they receive back a professional brochure, book mark, prayer card, powerpoint background, blog banner, and email banner in a theme of their choosing, each carefully matched and beautifully designed.

Visual Story Network Summit in Edinburgh

In April, I traveled with a colleague to Edinburgh, Scotland, for the Visual Story Network Summit.  The Visual Story Network is a Christian organization started by the Jesus Film project, but now a separate entity, working on bringing all the Christian Media producers together from all over the world, and get us coordinating our efforts.  It was a great opportunity to meet other people doing similar work, and begin to form partnerships that will help us be more effective in the future.  I went both as a participant and to coordinate and run the audio video for the summit.  Many of our 2012 plans have their roots in things that happened at VSN.  🙂

Story Training with Tom

Tom Khazoyan, the producer of the feature film “The Enemy God,” graciously donated his time to lead a week long story-telling workshop for us in April (before he flew on to Edinburgh for VSN).  It was a great and intensive time as Tom helped us through the creation of our first short film script.

Any Given Day

The first of our ambitious animation projects for the year involved thousands of names floating in a bathtub.  It was a wild concept, and a lot of work, but has born a lot of fruit over the course of the year as many many people have watched it on the internet and been challenged to consider the short time that we have to reach the lost people around us.  It’s been exciting to see God using this video in places and ways we never imagined when we were putting it together.

Any Given Day (1 minute 14 seconds)


At the beginning of this year, we put the final polish on the How2Video.org web site and launched it, first to friends, then to the mission.  Later thanks to promotions by the Visual Story Network and Missions Catalyst now thousands of missionaries have visited the site and gotten the word that this tool exists to help them produce their own videos and share how God is at work in their lives and ministries.  If you want to make a video of your own, I encourage you to check out the site.  The training is simple and down to earth.

Perhaps the greatest upside for us in GemStone Media has been the great freedom it has given us to really pursue God’s calling.  Now when someone comes to us with a project that is good but a distraction from God’s best plan for us, we can say, “We can’t produce that for you right now, but we’ve got a great online training program so that you can produce it yourself.”



How2Video – Get Your Story Straight

It was a very long process getting this video done.  My role in GEM’s annual conference, as well as numerous other projects kept pushing it further and further back, not to mention the scope of the material being pretty challenging to begin with.  However, over the past several months, how2video.org has become the permanent home on the web for the series (even if the site is still just a place holder), I’ve gotten to work with some great new people, had a blast working with some friends, and the first and probably the most difficult instructional video is done.  🙂  Let me know what you think.

HOW_TO:VIDEO – Intro – for review

This is the first segment from the video series I’ve been working on.  The concept is to produce a series a videos, directed at missionaries, to help them correspond with their supporters via video.  The hope is that this will more deeply engage the North American audience in missions, as well as helping missionaries more effectively communicate the exciting stories from their fields.  The video may still change a little bit, but this should be pretty close to what the final video will look like.

(updated with video link for RSS folks)

Shooting myself…


Last week I started shooting our new web video series aimed at helping missionaries with their video correspondence. Because we’re thinking about missionaries and their budgets, we’re making a lot of difficult equipment choices. For example, we are shooting on my $200 handy-cam instead of on our professional high definition cameras.


I left our Arri light kit on the shelf, and lit the set with a lumber yard light, and two desk lamps. It’s been a long time since I’ve done work in this budget class, and it’s an interesting reminder of how much time you spend trying to make the wrong equipment do a job well. I’ve seen this again and again as we’ve done construction on our offices, the right tool can make a job so much simpler. Of course, having the wrong tool with skills and know how beats the right tool in unskilled hands. I’ve been the latter a lot as I’ve been doing construction, so it’s nice to be making a video, even with some challenges.

(photos courtesy of W.M.)