So, happy New Year. 2010. Exciting. I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of top ten lists on the radio and TV, so I’ve decided to make my own. It’s a list of the top eight stories (had to be a little different) I’ve had the opportunity to cover over the last year.
I have to be sensitive here, because some of the stories are tragic. They were very hard to shoot. This list isn’t about most fun, or which story was happiest. The list is more about my connection with the event: what I was able to learn, what I was proud and honored to be a part of. So, without further ado…
(1) Fort Hood.
We were already in Texas covering another story when we heard the news about the shooting. We packed up quickly and made a three hour drive to Kileen, TX. We hit the ground running. Another photographer and myself ended up shooting and editing three different stories that week. It was hard to be there, crowding with all the other media outlets, feeling a little like heartless journalists. But the things I saw were inspiring. People determined not to hate, not to give up fighting. Definitely something I felt honored to witness.
(2) Tropical Storms in Norfolk/Virginia Beach.
Two tropical storms met right over Virginia Beach, VA. and caused a lot of damage. Seeing as CBN studios is located in Virginia Beach, we were required to still show up for work and shoot. It was quite the adventure.
(3) Rifqa Bary.
I had to opportunity to track this story across the US as it developed. Rifqa Bary converted to Christianity and ran away to Florida in fear of her Muslim parents. Ironically I still haven’t met Rifqa (I did meet her friends, pastor, family, and lawyers) but yet I still became interested in this girl’s story. A lot of passionate people are involved too, seeing as this is a growing concern for children of Muslim immigrants.
(4) Revival Tabernacle. I found myself just outside of Detroit shooting a story about Revival Tabernacle, an inner-city church that helps out the poorer communities in Highland Park, Michigan. A couple we interviewed owned the very same home used by Clint Eastwood in the filming of Gran Torino (2008). On top of that it was just a solid, inspiring story. Here was a church, planting itself in one of the worst neighborhoods in Detroit, refusing to give up. It was even encouraging its church members to live in the same community by offering to cover the down payment on any home purchased near the church. A few weeks before we visited, Kevin Ramsby, the Executive Pastor of Revival Tabernacle, was attacked in his home and stabbed 30-some times. He was kind enough to invite us into his home for an interview. Still covered in bandages he carefully explained how he, after being attacked in the same neighborhood he was providing outreach to, wouldn’t be moving. Still more, he held no hate or contempt. Here was someone unafraid to bring the good news to people around him, regardless of the consequences.
(5) Urbana 2009.
My Christmas vacation was cut short by a news trip to cover Urbana 2009, a missions conference put on by InterVaristy Fellowship. A triennial conference, it’s one of the biggest Christian gatherings in the world. 15,000 students descended on St. Louis, MO. It was breathtaking to see that many Christians pack a stadium, all worshipping together, genuinely fiery for Jesus.
The marketing team for Sherwood Pictures flew us to Albany, GE to unveil plans for their newest movie set to start production in the next few months. It was fun to meet the two guys who tapped into the Christian demographic, and are successfully making Christian family films. See this Facebook link for new and updated info! http://www.facebook.com/courageousthemovie
(7) Gay Marriage in Maine.
I was embedded with “Protect Maine Equality,” the group that wanted to keep gay marriage legal in Maine. All night I watched, alongside several hundred other gay and lesbian supporters, the group slowly lose the vote to legalize gay marriage. Seeing as I was shooting for the Christian Broadcasting Network, it created some interesting conversations with those around me. I had a wide mix of feelings at the end of it. Overall, I learned a lot that night.
(8) A Valentine’s Day Story.
This story was just shot in Arizona not but a month ago. It’s currently in post-production, and is set to air during Valentine’s day. A man fell 30 feet and landed on his head while hiking with his fiance and her kids. Defying doctor’s predictions, his recovery was nothing short of miraculous. Now, a year later, he’s about to run a half-marathon. Very inspiring.