Who I Am, Where I'm At, Why I Do What I Do And One Exciting Announcement!
I though to myself how I tell stories , what stories I tell and to tell them more than through photo & video. It challenged me to remember the power and importance of a story, even my story. I fight a lot with the insecurity of what I'm doing and why I do it. I know its where i'm suppose to be but there is always that part of me that wants everyone to like me (I'm a 9 on the enneagram, the peacemaker) and I've always ran the other way when it came to conflict. But this journey God has me puts me in places that cause conflict and I don't have the support from many people. i'm not a words guy and rather tell stories through photos and video but God seems to use the words I write to, if nothing else, remind me of he calling on my life and who he is and who I am. Hope what I wrote below can be an encouragement and a challenge for you.
A few weeks ago through a conversation I was reminded why I do what I do even though it's draining, financial unstable, and "unpopular". I was also reminded of the specific incidence when God broke my heart for the natives at Standing Rock and I was kneeling in a frost covered field in ND weeping, worshiping, and pleading realizing God's heart was also broken for them and that he was calling me into this journey in on now.
After sharing these thoughts with my friend, Gavin, he put it into the words below. That really describes where I'm at so beautifully.
Risk Taking Artist
"Practicality seeks to devour my passions
The projects I love the most are often the projects that pay the least
Wedding videos temporarily feed the appetite of practicality
A couple gas tanks and a month of rent
Another month for my passions to burn
Comfortable images are liked by all
Accounts displaying beauty and harmony are followed
Allowing the masses to live life on the sidelines,
A way of life protected by ignorance
I am not here for our comfort
I am here as one crying out on behalf of the forgotten,
the abused, marginalized, overlooked, and unknown
I seek the voice of all who have been voiceless
Rescuing us from obscurity and helplessness
Walking together into being known and loved
Seeking justice and mercy in this land
I seek the sight of all who have been blind
Rescuing us from our comfort and passivity
Walking with you into a life of meaning
Seeking justice and mercy in this land
I am a Relentless Warrior in the kingdom of God
The Kingdom is extended with every room I enter,
Every story I tell, and every eye that is opened
I will not relent. I will not desist.
Until the suffering and privileged
Know they are loved."
I've been asking people recently "what are you most excited for in life right now?" If I was to answer my own question it would be that I'm excited to see how God will provide in the unknown and the stories that He will lead me into to share and celebrate. I am currently 16 days from leaving for Puerto Rico to document the needs of the island and to do relief work. I am currently without a camera that works (broke several months ago and haven been borrowing one up until last week) and lacking $3000 new camera I need for this trip and to continue to do what I do with photojournalism and Documentary work. I know my God can and will provide and anxious to see how he does it. I've seen Him raise close to $40,000 for me while I was in College for several trips over seas, internships for non-profit, and discipleship/missional training. Its been a constant theme in my life of jumping into the unknown with Him continually calling me into deeper places of trust and faith. With the most recent time, back in July, where he told me to quit me job to push me into self-employment full time as a story teller. so many things "logically" didn't mark sense. I don't know the first thing about running a business, my bank account was at like $150 maybe less, and I had no projects lined up for sure BUT I went for it! It's been 8 months and many things haven't changed. My bank account is still low and still have no idea how to run a business or what the heck i'm doing in general and now I don't have a camera (which is kind of important for a photojournalist). . . But a lot has changed / happened. Ive discovered and continue to discover so much about myself: how i'm wired, what motives me and doesn't, fears, doubts, insecurities have come to light, Who I amend Who's I am. I'm learning a lot about story telling, commitment, sacrifices, letting go of self and pride, learning what to hold onto and what to let go and constantly being reminded of the need for story telling. It's hard BUT I wouldn't change what i'm doing for anything! People are to important to stop. These past 8 months have been incredible to see God provide out of no where for me to get paid for projects as well get to document events and share peoples stories. Getting to be in the middle of pain, fear and hurt and bring hope, love, and unity. To begin to humanize that which has been dehumanized and to be in and amongst places that have been avoided by people because of its messiness, danger, and opposing opinions. Because this is where we are to be as Christians the first line of defense, the first set of hands to comfort, and first voices to speak against hate and injustices. It's not a easy place to be. It's exhausting. It's overwhelming. You feel hopeless a lot of the time and you have to face the depravity of the human heart and sin head on. But why would I be anywhere else? Those are the places that need the radical love of Jesus. The places that if we, the church, don't go to others will swoop in and bring a surface level hope and the church will misrepresent who our Father is by not going. This is but a taste of what God is doing in and through me. Bigger and better things for such time as this so the world my know and experience who God really is!
A BIG AND EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!
So of today my work and my website is being updated. My old webpage called, Jon Stegenga Media, will be replaced by “Humanizing Through Story”. Because this isn’t about me its about all of Humanity. Fighting to give value to every single life. It’s bigger than one person, its a movement. A Storytelling Humanity Movement.
Thats a little update on my life and a little insight of my heart on why I do what I do. I have started a Patreon page ( https://www.patreon.com/jonstegengamedia) to share more information about this journal, where i'm headed, the projects I'm working on, a way for you to partner with me to help fuel this movement. What Out current needs
Street Medic & First Aid/ First Responders Training (want to be more then a camera guy. with me being in the middle of protest, social justice movements, at events in 3rd world countries, working with refugees, the homeless, and sick I want to offer a set of healing of hands that can also bring physical healing or safety)
Canon C 200
DJI Air (drone)
Trip Funds (working with Refugees, immigrants, dehumanized people groups)
We would love to see about $10,000-$15,000 come in. That wouldn't cover the cost of everything listed above but would get my work off the ground and running to a point where projects can start happening. With that here are a few projects in beginning to jump into or dreaming off
DACA: telling and celebrating the lives of 4-5 DACA recipients that are living here in Greenville, SC
Refugees: My heart of the past 5-6 months is to get to Bangladesh, Greece, or other country where is a huge refugee crisis to tell their stories and be there for them.
Amer: potentially have the chance to tell the story of Amer Othman, and his family. The man that recently was deported back to Jordan after living here in the states in Ohio for 40 years.
Standing Rock: going back to tell the stories of those that stood against the pipeline, whats happening now with its, hows the community/ reservation doing, now what?
Albinos: Going back to Tanzania to work with the Albinos. Doing missional work along side of telling their stories of living in fear of their lives just because their Skin pigment
Care2Foster: Documenting and Celebrating the families of Foster care. Through photos breaking down stereotypes & fears.
Homes: Documenting people in their houses. celebrating the every day things we do that seem "boring" but that make up most of our lives and to capture moments in our lives that were can look back and remember where we were, where we are going, and who we are.
Greenville: there are several local stories that also are unfolding to be told
The Border: working with Asylum Seekers and refugees crossing our southern border and help shed light on their needs and break down fears and steriotypes that are being fed to the public about them.
If you have read to this point please give this post a like and then comment with answering this question? "What are you most excited for in life right now?"
You have been prayed for!
Much love and blessings,
Risk Taking Artist