December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

November 29, 2009

What In The World Is An Anabaptist?

So I was perusing about many of my favorite websites and blogs the other day and came across a great little article on the Young Anabaptist Radicals website about the traditions history and beliefs. It's kind of an interactive article actually as it asks for input from other Anabaptist's. I wouldn't have thought much of it, except that earlier that same day I had a long discussion with some friends about the Anabaptist Tradition who had never heard a thing about it. To their eyes it was just some relished folk tale of mid 16th century reformation fall out with the Amish & Mennonite communities (bonnets and all) as a modern result. So with that in mind I thought perhaps it's time we shed a little light on the subject, not simply because I profess the tradition as my own, but more importantly because I actually think there is a strong misunderstanding of who the Anabaptist's were and are and the fact that history seems to have dismissed us all together. The article is in no way comprehensive, but it's a good place to start. If you are interested in the radical reformation or the Anabaptist tradition the link to the article is bellow.

{Dirk Williams - Anabaptist Martyr & Saint}


"No story of an Anabaptist martyr has captured the imagination more than the tale of Dirk Willems.
Dirk was caught, tried and convicted as an Anabaptist in those later years of harsh Spanish rule under the Duke of Alva in The Netherlands. He escaped from a residential palace turned into a prison by letting himself out of a window with a rope made of knotted rags, dropping onto the ice that covered the castle moat.

Seeing him escape, a palace guard pursued him as he fled. Dirk crossed the thin ice of a pond, the “Hondegat,” safely. His own weight had been reduced by short prison rations, but the heavier pursuer broke through.

Hearing the guard’s cries for help, Dirk turned back and rescued him. The less-than-grateful guard then seized Dirk and led him back to captivity. This time the authorities threw him into a more secure prison, a small, heavily barred room at the top of a very tall church tower, above the bell, where he was probably locked into the wooden leg stocks that remain in place today. Soon he was led out to be burned to death.

Some inhabitants of present-day Asperen, none of them Mennonite, regard Dirk as a folk hero. A Christian, so compassionate that he risked recapture in order to save the life of his drowning pursuer, stimulates respect and memory."

Chances are if you read my blog it's because we already share some similar sentimentality about the world and if that be the case there is a good chance you already read and hold to a lot of Anabaptist thought perhaps without even knowing it. But this is a history we should never forget as it reminds us that throughout all of Christian History, no mater how off the straight and narrow the church has run, there has always been a ragtag group of outcasts forming communities of love and hospitality declaring Jesus Christ as Lord of ALL. We are not alone and we never have been!!!

November 2, 2009

A Visual Update

Just click on the pages bellow to view them larger.
I hope the pictures can give you all a little glimpse of our lives at the moment.

October 11, 2009

The Dirty Quiet Jesus

As the sun rises and a brilliant display of reds, pinks, and dark blues pierce the darkness, we are welcomed into another day. South Africa is awakening to the sounds of ocean swells and exotic birds singing songs of liberation, it’s a change our little community can smell in the air morning by morning. Thus as the massive sun engulfs the horizon we sense another baptism, another chance for love to give birth to hope and yet another fresh start for us all...

It’s hard to believe how fast that huge African sun moves up and down the horizon lines. We have been in South Africa nearly a whole month already and each day has shed more light on what the coming year will hold for us. We have spent much of the past month building into our own community - working on vision, strategy, prayer, fasting, healthy rhythms of missional life and the logistical shaping of the next year spent in the margins of society. God has been moving and speaking clearly and it’s been beautiful to witness his heart for the poor and needy.

We have also run headfirst into our witness and work here in Cape Town. Great connections have been built and are continuing to grow among a number of organizations and communities in the area. Having a long term Voice for the Voiceless office here in Cape Town has also really helped, seeing as much of the relational building blocks are already established. We mentioned in the last update that much of our effort these months will be focused on a township close by called Capricorn. We have spent much of the past month walking the trash filled streets, playing with street kids, starting bible study groups, praying for people and building relationships. Last Monday we also started what will be a weekly prayer vigil in the middle of Capricorn. It was a beautiful night of sharing, singing, and praying for the end of racism, poverty and HIV.

That night Diane meet a woman named Margaret who wandered by as we were singing. She joined our fellowship, sang and cried with us, and shared her story with Diane. Margaret is so alone. Her entire family has either left the area or passed away. Loneliness surrounds her life. When she stopped by our humble gathering she was on her way to find a place to sleep, along side the thousands of other homeless individuals in Capricorn making the migration, but she felt the need to stay and linger for a moment - the need to pray and love and share and live. Her presence directed our meager effort back to it’s purpose, for in Margaret we all met a Jesus few of us ever dare to meet. A suffering, loving, humble, quiet Jesus who sleeps in the dirt and welcomes us all to the Kingdom of God. As Diane held Margaret’s hands that night and prayed with her, the tears on both of their faces pointed the way to a common humanity. A common connection to the love of Christ witnessed in this little moment. Let us all pray for more and more moments like this...


We invite you all to join us in prayer for Capricorn every Monday morning. The six hour time difference should bring us to prayer at roughly the same time. Your prayers for the Voiceless of South Africa really make a difference. We invite you to pray on behalf of the thousands homeless individuals facing the chilling ocean winds every night. We invite you to pray for the end of racial segregation that breeds hatred and violence. Specifically, pray for the thousands of Zimbabwean refugees in Capricorn who face constant racial discrimination and live in daily fear of violent attacks by white and black South Africans alike. We invite you to pray for the end of drug abuse, domestic violence, and the rising HIV rate. We invite you to pray for the thousands of children who wander these streets parentless - easy prey for the Traffickers and Pimps. We invite you to pray for the brothels and exploitation of women and children to come to an end. We shall be meeting every Monday to pray as a witness to God’s love for this community. Let us make it a global cry. Come and join your voice in prayer for the Voiceless of Capricorn.

September 23, 2009

Life Together

"We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet not so small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ."

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together

August 29, 2009

The End of the Beginning

So it´s very hard for us to put into words these last two months.
Where we have been...what we have we are doing...where we
are heading. It´s amazing how fast time moves. Yet one thing we can
indeed say is that our God, who
persistently loves us, has walked with
us, hand in hand, this whole way...His perfect hope has been in us and
His presence all around.
What a beautiful God we serve...

We are learning that leading a team of 20 some people around the world
(both practically as well as spiritually) is no simple thing. It takes
a consistent capacity to give and give and give. We need more love to
overflow. Sometimes we make mistakes, but grace seems to always be
with us to lead us back to
a path of hope. And it´s such a blessing to
serve together as a couple. The more we push forward in this life of
missions the more we can see what a privilege it is to live life this
way. We may not have a proper wedding bed or a home, in fact we may
have actually lived in
21 different ¨rooms¨ - in 10 countries - in
14 months of marriage...but we know the will of our Father and
feel His peace. Home is in His hands.

Our little community of
¨hopeful vagabonds¨ has learned a lot during
our time in Panama. It´s been a crazy couple months of faith lived in
love for those cast to the edges of this concrete (and sometimes
actual) jungle. We are learning what it will take to actually be a
community of faith and hope. A people set apart for the sake of the
Gospel. A community setting out to transform other communities with

We have been involved in a lot over these short two months. I´ll list
a recap, not because I typically prefer listing much of anything, but
simply because when I think about the depth God has moved here it
blows me away...

- Together we have -

- Lived together ( 39 of us!) in a tiny Church in Gamboa, Panama.
- Walked the streets of Panama City sharing love with the poor, the
needy, the prostitute.
- Visited clinics to pray for prostitutes and minister to their broken hearts.
- Trekked to the far reaches of this country to share the love of
Christ in tiny mountain villages of the remote Ngobe people.
(By the way we made a mini documentary about our time with the Ngobe.
Its currently up on Facebook, so if we are friends on FB check my page
to view it)
- We started a Church, Cultural Heritage Center, Primary School and
YWAM base on 15 acres of land on the top of a mountain in a remote
mountain village.
- Joined a medical team and saw over 2,000 people in just three days receive treatment and prayer.
- Made lots and lots of friends.
- Baked brownies to demonstrate the simple love of Christ for the
Smithsonian Scientists who also call this part of Panama ¨home¨.
- We slept in Orphanages; played, bathed, and fell in love with a
zillion kids and felt provoked to respond.
- We made a 128 page book about Orphans Rights Issues in Panama for
Hearts Cry Ministry! It was printed TODAY! Matt & Misty from Hearts
Cry now have a meeting set up to share the book with the Government
and further their proposed changes to the Orphan-Adoption System...

I know it just sounds like a bunch of random moments...maybe because
in reality they really were.
But every moment is full of PEOPLE.
Indigenous communities afflicted with HIV getting treatment and being
empowered to hold onto their languages. Kids getting hugs and laughing
for a few hours as a lost glimmer of hope sparkles in their once
again. Women downcast by poverty who resort to selling themselves to
feed their kids listened to, prayed for and given shoulders to lean on.
How can we share these experiences of love with you all? You are all a
part of this journey! Your prayers and financial support carry us. We
can´t say thank you enough...perhaps thats why every update we ever

We really mean it.

Tomorrow morning we fly back to the US Mainland for a few weeks of
sharing and family time. We will be in Michigan from Aug 27th - Sep
4th & New Jersey from Sep 6th - 10th. Many of the days are filled with
meetings and speaking engagements, but if you would love to get
together for lunch or just some fellowship while we are around we
would love to. Our main purpose in coming back to the states for these
few weeks is to try and raise the remaining support we need for the
coming year. We currently need another $1,200 of monthly support in
order to continue this work. We shall head on to South Africa
September 11th regardless of where we are financially towards this

This is only the end of the beginning. The next year will hold much of
the same as our community continues on in
hope and love. South Africa,
Egypt, Sudan, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Germany, India, Asia (and
many more in between) here we come with open arms. Christ be

- Pray for this book we are leaving behind with Hearts Cry. Pray that
it can bring some heart back to the issue of Orphans in Panama.
- Pray for all the people we have come in contact with while in
Panama. Pray they would come to know Christ and hold fast top His
redeeming love.
- Pray for our financial need. That the right individuals, families,
congregations and communities would partner with us.

July 25, 2009

The Ngobe, Orphans & The Continuing Saga of the Stolen Backpack Adventure

So it seems I have finally found a free 20 minutes to send out a well needed update to you all. First of all I want to say a huge thank you from Diane & I for your response to the announcement that our pack was stolen late last month. There has been such an amazing outcry of love and words and giving. It's really been overwhelming. Once again we feel so overjoyed to know the loving bond in Christ Jesus with you all. I also just wanted to share that just this week we were able to purchase a replacement laptop for the one that was taken from us WE DID IT!

I wanted to ask you all to join us in dedicating this new machine for the work of the gospel. So many of you have a claim in the work that it will accompany. So join us in prayer to commission it's use for the sake of justice and good-news to the poor, broken, hopeless and forgotten. Thank you all so much.

- Onward -

So what a crazy adventure we had last week. On July 9th our team headed 6 hours north to the land of the Ngobe. I really don't know where to begin, because my mind still can't really grasp all that happened. So let me just give you a play by play in hopes that some of our excitement will translate. The Ngobe are both the largest and most impoverished indigenous people in Panama. Almost 150,000 people totally marginalized, mostly forgotten by the rest of the population and left to fend for themselves for almost 400 years. They have become an entirely self sufficient agriculturalist society, living off the land and trying to survive.

On a hot wednesday afternoon our team drove six hours by bus, half hour by taxi, and two hours straight up the crazy mountain trails by 4X4 until we reached the village of San Felix. San Felix is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been. It looks far more like Nepal than Panama, as mountains peek through the cloud line bellow and the temperature drops 20 degrees. We spent the first night in a small catholic church praying for purpose and the hopes to see God move. The following day we split up into smaller groups of 2 or 3 and wandered the valleys and mountains (cameras in hand) meeting people and listening to stories.

I met a beautiful woman that day named Maria who was a mother of 7 and very alone. Three of her kids were terribly sick (one so sick that he had to be taken to a christian feeding center 3 hours down the mountain) laying in their little hammocks hanging from her humble home made of sticks and metal roofing. We began to talk (Translating from English to Spanish to Ngobe) and soon my heart broke for her. Almost a year ago her husband left to go find work, but never returned. Since then she has been struggling to find food to feed her amazingly cute kids and has become so lonely. She holds onto hope that one day her husband will return, but  hat hope is quickly fading. I had no idea what to say to her, no idea what to do for that matter. So I asked if I could pray for her...she agreed and we bowed our heads. I prayed for love to come and fill her and for the God who created the mountains to move in her life. I prayed for healing of her sick children and for their joy to fill their home... 

After a while I could think of nothing else to say and so we all just cried together. Afterward we talked about hope, love and Jesus and asked if we could take her family's picture because she was so beautifully made in the image of God. Maria blushed and said absolutely, but that we should go and come back in an hour so she could get her and the children cleaned up. So we did and that afternoon was one to remember as joy and thoughts of worth and dignity crept back into memories that had long forgotten what it feels like to be loved.

{Maria & a few of her little ones}

All of our groups decided to invite everyone we met to a community gathering back at the little catholic church that evening. So as the night rolled in we waited around praying that anyone would show up...then the rain came. The clouds dumped so much water on us I began to fear the church's collapse! The evening went on and we began to think we would be alone...but slowly off in the distance flickers of light appeared...then they came. Walking for miles through the pouring rain, with children tied to their heads and at their sides they came. Almost 20 people came that night including the regions mayor! We spent hours sharing storied together and singing songs.  We even sang "How Great Thou Art" in seven languages (including Ngobe). The mayor told us about their struggles as a people. He told us about how they are loosing their language because the government's mandatory spanish schools forbid their children to speak Ngobe in class. We heard about domestic abuse, the loss of culture and wide spread poverty. We shared our hopes in Jesus and said we would help however we could. It was a blessed night.

That evening we also met a Man who would change our plans for the rest of our time in the Buggle (Reservation). His name was Pastor Rafael. Rafael is a Ngobe believer who had started a church a number of years ago a few miles down the mountain. He has since become a Paul to the Ngobe, wandering the mountains and sharing the gospel no matter the cost. A few months ago He and his wife, along with their three week old baby, walked to a village called Tugri and slept outside in the mud for three days until the village would let him in. He told us about this village and how it was becoming the Capitol of the Ngobe. The Mayor of San Felix also chimed in and said if we wanted to go there he knew the Village Elder well and could call him.  So we felt God was doing something and the next morning decided to head to Turgi with our new friend Pastor Rafael. 

Little did we know that Turgi is a six hour hick from San Felix. We walked and walked and walked, up and up and up. By the end I think most of us nearly passed out (a few may have along the way). But alas just over one last mountain pass there is was, Turgi. We were the first foreigners ever to visit Turgi. I can't explain how that feels, to know so few eyes have ever seen such a place. When we arrived we were welcomed. The Mayor had sent a man on a horse the night before to let the Village Elder know we were coming and they had already found us a place to stay. We bunked up in a humble 10 foot by 10 foot hut (16 of us mind you) just before he rains came.  I can't go play by play of our three days in Turgi or else you shall read for hours. Plus I would hate to ruin all the stories here. But our three days were filled with amazing hope. We met together with families as well as the whole community a number of times. We sang songs together and talked about faith, creation, community, development, culture, grace and Jesus. The most amazing thing that I can't wrap my head around is that by the time we left the village had donated 15 acres of land to YWAM & Pastor Rafael to start a Church, YWAM Base, Ngobe Cultural Heritage Center and Ngobe Speaking Primary School! So Rafael and his whole family along with a few people from the Panama City YWAM base will be moving to the mountains of Turgi to begin a new adventure.  I believe this is called "Fruit that lasts."

So amazing to watch God orchestrate our time and energy.

After we left Tugri we walked back to San Felix and drove two hours to another village called Cameron. There we met up with a medical missions team from Connecticut. We spent four days loving people, trying to organize the chaos, holding screaming babies who were getting injections, working in the pharmacy, praying for people, getting beat in stick-ball by kids half our age and occasionally taking some pictures. We saw
2,000 people in three days with a medical team of 10 people (two Surgeons, a Dentist, a Pharmacist, and a handful of Nurses). It felt more like a refugee camp than a Ngobe village, but regardless I think we all felt a persistent presence of peace in Cameron as we reached out to hurting communities.

We were all rather tired in the end (rightly so I believe). We arrived back in Panama City on the 17th with just one day to spare before we held a conference called One Voice. The day was really something else. Music, dancing, photography, painting, culinary arts of all kinds dedicated entirely to the cause of bringing a Voice to the Voiceless. A number of organizations and churches representatives were present along with most of the major press outlets in Panama. We had a gallery and many of us spoke throughout the day about voiceless issues from Human Trafficking to Refugees to the Orphans Crisis in Panama. I shared a good deal about Afghanistan and my hopes for reconciliation and enemy-love, praying for the Church to stand up for peace. We also launched the V
oice for the Voiceless: 30 Day of Prayer book in Spanish (if anyone is interested in having some in spanish let me know and I would be happy to bring some back to the states with us). That night our own Susi Childers (founder of PhotogenX) gave a key note address and call to action. I don't think any of us will ever know how much of an impact or hope was sparked that day. So join us in praying that the love of Christ will ripple across this country, compassionately calling others to work for the cause of justice & love.

The past week we pretty much just slept. Our remaining six weeks here will be spent working on an Orphans Rights project alongside Hearts Cry. Tomorrow we are actually going to live at an orphanage for a good part of the week. From what we have seen so far, the institution itself is so broken. If you are committed to praying for us, pray our effort will bring "Fruit that lasts." That in our short time we can aid Hearts Cry in such a way that the lives of
50,000 orphans can be changed. That they can find love and families in the future. That the government would recognize the problems and seek to regulate and revise a system that is causing so much hurt. Pray that love would be given freely and for our cameras to capture God's heart. Much more on this to come....

Thank you for reading this novel. I will try and be more regular with updates. But I suppose this is a beautiful problem to have...God moving and working so much that updates get longer. In fact lets pray these e-mails get longer and longer and longer until we have to find a new medium to share what God is doing. Thank you for your love and support. We can't wait to see a number of you in early September when we stop through the US Mainland on our way to South Africa. You are all in our thoughts and prayers...

Nobu Modeemiga ("God beless you" in Ngobe)

July 1, 2009

Join in the Jubilee (updated again)

WE DID IT!!! - Updated July 23rd!
(this is a secure giving account)

So here is the game. Diane & I currently live in Gambo, Panama on the floor of a church office along with the rest of our vagabond PhotogenX Team whom we are leading clear around God's Green Earth. Last Friday on the very first day into our journey, our laptop-backpack was stolen from us at the Panama City Airport. Beyond anything, our present circumstance has made us even more aware and determined to see life brought back into the darkness. Our hearts go out to the people of Panama who are so desperately marginalized by the advancing world around them that they steep to becoming criminals of survival. So in many ways our stolen laptop confirms the absolute NEED for journeys like our own and for missions of justice and reconciliation. It has given Diane & I a lot more fire for what we are doing!

So amazingly in just the past two days, with only a few quick e-mails we have been given $436 towards a replacement of our stolen laptop. In all reality it's basically impossible for us to work on our coming projects without one. So the outpour of love from many of you has been amazing. In just two short weeks we will be leading our team far far away into a distant indigenous village working along side a medical team. These people have been pushed decade after decade further and further from their original homeland and now live in the most desperate of conditions. Many of the children are malnourished and most families live side by side in tinny makeshift huts. Incredibly most Panamanians from the city probably don't even know these people exist! So we will be going with our cameras to tell their stories and give them a voice!

Once we return from this village (on July 17th) we will begin working on creating awareness tools, as well as starting on a number of other very practical projects. OUR GREATEST HOPE IS TO BUY A REPLACEMENT LAPTOP BY THE TIME WE RETURN TO PANAMA CITY. Bellow & Above I will keep a running tally of the donated amount and the remaining amount needed to buy a replacement (which is around $1,400 USD). We ask you to intercied for us. If you can give and feel lead to great! Perhaps also you might feel lead to simply share with your friends or church about what we are doing and our need, that would also be great. Perhaps your church or youth-group of bridge club would care to take up a donation or have bake sale, this is also great. Get the word out, as we are far away in the jungle and now need you in turn to give us a voice!

WE DID IT!!! - Updated July 23rd!

We love you so much and again and again are reminded of how incredible it is to belong to the Community of God.

(love reconciles all)

June 30, 2009

And When It Rains It Pours

So couple quick updates from the humid heat of Panama. Today Panama
saw it´s worst thunderstorm and flooding in almost five years! Pray
for many of the villages which live on the edges of the flood plain
river banks. There are many many peoples homes being destroyed! We got
word today from a small indigenous village about an hour up the river
from where we are staying. They had a number of trees fall on their
little huts and about 40% of their homes are destroyed. Most of these
villages store up food as they make few trips into the city to much of
their supplies and lively hood have been destroyed by the rising
waters. We had a number of things planned for tomorrow, but have opted
to simply go and help this community rebuild their homes as best we
can. So pray for us tomorrow as we boat up the river to give aid to
this hurting community...

Also, Diane & I are very much in need because of our stolen
backpack/laptop. In all we had about $3,500 worth of gear stolen from
us. A laptop really is a needed tool in the work for justice that we
do. It´s basically impossible to be in the field and shooting pictures
without the means to edit and create the publications and awareness
material we have come to provide here...

We love you all, keep us in your prayers...

Trying to stay dry,
Steve & Diane

The Schallert´s Stolen Backpack Adventure

Hello Brothers & Sisters. We pray this finds you well and full of the abundant grace of our God. Diane & I have just arrived in Panama City and can´t tell you how excited we are to see what God has in store for us! There are so many amazing opportunities arising and we have only been here 24 hours!! Right now we have a project being developed working along side the US Embassy, who are beginning a campaign against Human Trafficking in Panama. With organizational prostitution being legal in Panama it makes this issue even harder to engage and more hidden, but the statistics of just how many woman and children are being trafficked in Panama are unbelievable. Some of that has to do with another major issue we are getting involved with during our time. We have strong contacts here working with an organization called Hearts Cry that are trying to find homes for the 50,000 neglected orphans in Panama. The system here is so unbelievably broken it would take hours to explain. But these children are basically abandoned and often worse off in the system that on the streets. Abuse is so prevalent and these orphans are one of the simplest target for Human Traffickers. So the two issues really relate to one another, yet we see so much potential for our team to really make a lasting impact over the coming months, leaving something behind that these organizations can build from and use. And last night, just as we arrived, we saw just how much the great darkness wants to stop our work for justice.

Last night as we rolled out of customs and into the greeting area of the airport, one of our backpacks was stolen. Diane had set it on the floor for one second to get my glasses out of it, stood up and said hello to our Panama Contact (David Tracy) and then as quick as that it was missing. We searched around, asked airport security, later called airport security again, but it was never recovered. It was probably stolen right from under our feet. Today we filed a police report (a very interesting cultural experience), but it is probably lost for good. The backpack itself along with all the following was taken:

Our 17" Macbook Pro (with charger, cords, and CS3 software)
Steve´s Cell Phone
Steve´s 60GB i-pod
Diane´s 350GB WD External Hard drive (Thank God we have a backup of our work)
2 pair of Sunglasses
3 Books I was very much enjoying
Diane´s Bible
and the saddest loss is our quote books that Diane & I have kept since we first started dating...

So we REALLY need your prayers. Again, we believe this to be yet another confirmation of just how much the Kingdom can shine here. Just how much the love of Christ is needed in Panama and across the earth. We bring a voice that the darkness wishes to silence, yet we WILL NOT BE SILENCED. Please pray for us at this time.

Also it is very hard for us to really accomplish our task without some basic equipment. Most everything we can live without, but it is terribly difficult to do our work for justice without a laptop...that is really the biggest loss and now one of our most immediate needs as we begin working on project in Panama. If any of you pray and feel lead to help us in our need, I have listed a link bellow to a smaller suitable replacement laptop that would help us tremendously...the replacement laptop will cost us around $1,300...beyond anything however, we are still very much looking for monthly financial supporters to walk with us over the coming year as we head into the world proclaiming good-news to the poor and freedom to the oppressed on every great is our God!!

Link to computer -
13inch Macbook Pro

Because He Lives,
Steve and Diane Schallert


June 23, 2009

And So We Begin...again...

It's really crazy, but I haven't really had a second to process what Diane & I are about to go do. We have been so incredibly busy preparing, organizing, advocating, networking, fundraising and more than anything PRAYING about what we are going to do, and hope God will do through us, and all that we believe can change, and what can give life to those who are marginalized, and yet it's always seemed such a long way off. But today it hit me!!! This Thursday {as in two days from now} the two of us and our team will get on airplanes...and we won't stop for over a year. The world will be out stage and hope will be our script. So pray for us! I have more hope for this world than ever before and feel more prepared than ever to capture the beauty and worth of people all around the world. Again I plead pray for us! Pray for our photography, as it is our tool for cultural and personal transformation. For art in it's very God-granted nature has the possibility to create something out of nothing, to build beauty out of the broken. We hope to give worth and listen...quick story:

"Last summer Diane & I really caught this truth in Afghanistan. There was a specific moment during our time in Mazar-e-Sharif that I truly realized the potential that photography has to literally restore a light that has gone out. It was a particularly hot afternoon, the sun was up and a dust storm had just blown through. On these ridiculously sizzling days it's not uncommon to see more stray dogs wandering the streets than people. But I was out laughing with street kinds and taking pictures when I met a young kid in his late teens named Ahmed. Ahmed was orphaned by war at age ten. His entire family had been killed in a bombing years ago and he has basically wandered the country alone ever since. As Ahmed told me his story I began to cry...I felt hopeless and knew of nothing else but to ask if I could pray and take his picture. He agreed, I prayed for him (and he for me) and then we parted ways. A few days later I had printed the photo and thought it might please him to have it, I thought perhaps Ahmed had never had a photo of himself, so I went to find him. When I found him a few blocks from our house I handed him the picture and then - like nothing else had ever before - it hit me. Ahmed gazed at the picture of if to say for the first time "I ACTUALLY EXIST"!!! I am real, so I must have worth! I could literally see his entire self become empowered as he stared at himself. He was SOMEONE again! A light had turned on. It was one of the most eye opening moments in my life to see how photography can be a tool to actually breath life into someone..."

And this is what we are about to go do for the next year! Not just in Afghanistan, but all across the entire world starting in Panama, because there are Ahmed's in every single country & city on the planet. Diane & I profess a hope that you all know and hold within you as well. It is found in Christ alone and his message brings good-news to the poor, the broken and the voiceless. It's time we go proclaim it...It's time to yell it from the roof-tops...We have cameras...and I encourage you to ask yourselves...what do I have? Do you have a voice? A job? A field of study? You can bring good news to everyone around you, for in your vary lives exists a kingdom so utterly beautiful it WILL transform. Let it bubble up! The it over flow! Let us let our love shine together and one to another...ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE, ANOTHER WORLD AWAITS!!!

- Prayer Points -

- For all our last minute logistics here in Kona before we leave Thursday. {so much paperwork}
- For safe travel of our whole team to Panama City {We fly out @ 5:40pm Thursday}
- For a good transition into the practical {hands and feet} ministry in the field.
{we are moving from conceptual to practical now and will need grace}
- For a strong cultural sensitivity {as Paul says to become a Greek to a Greek}
- For safety as we head to the villages {in about 10 days from now!! We will have to trek far into the jungle to live and work in the indigenous community. They have been so marginalized by their fellow country men, so pray for times of empowerment and that the love of Christ would be birthed in their communities}
- For the conference on July 18th! {We will be launching the Spanish version of the "Voice for the Voiceless" prayer book, so pray it will spark a prayer movement in the Spanish speaking world on behalf of the marginalized in those lands. That this prayer may be the foundation to actually see issues like Human Trafficking end in Panama}
- For our projects and open doors. {We have been invited by the US Embassy in Panama to contribute all the media for their international Anti-Human Trafficking campaign! This is such a huge opportunity to make an impact on sexual slavery in the region!}
- For Unity!!!
- For our marriage, that we can grow in love and closeness. {That we can have some special moments together that empower our marriage and that we can continue to rely on God for our needs}

- Also please pray and consider our financial burden. WE ARE IN NEED. We need to mobilize $2,000 of continuing monthly support starting next month in order to lead this mission across the world. As of now we have about $250 of monthly support, so we are really looking for individuals as well as communities who want to partner with out work. We have so much faith in God's provision so we are stepping out in belief that God will provide. Please consider partnering with us. Every single dollar counts ever month. If you received our most recent missions package you have the information for our YWAM Missions Account, if you did not, we would be happy to fill you in on how to give. Our arms are wide open to you...

We love and appreciate you all so much. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and feel free to send the occasional message. It's always so encouraging to hear from YOU when we are in the jungle or the desert or the slum or the township. You are with us and we LOVE you!

Because He Lives,
Steve & Diane Schallert

May 4, 2009

Part 2 {Vision - "The Hope That We Profess"}

Proverbs 31: 8-9
Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

-A Quick History-

In 2005, our now dear friends and leaders, Paul & Susi Childers birthed a vision for a missions organization that would bring
light to the darkness, hope to the hopeless, and a VOICE for the VOICELESS using art & photography as a catalyst for making actual-measurable change. It was, and has become, a global vision for finding creative ways to address, expose, and redeem the world’s biggest injustice issues. This is PhotogenX.

PhotogenX has since its genesis functioned under the parenting of YWAM (Youth With A Mission), which is one of the largest and most widespread missions movements across the planet. While we are our own entity (with our own tax exempt 501c3 non-profit status) our partnership with YWAM is a vital part of our identity. YWAM has over 170 locations worldwide and is present in nearly every country on the face of the planet, which gives PhotogenX the networking capability and connections to enter and work in nearly every corner of the globe.

Over the past four years PhotogenX has been in a
pioneering stage. Cultivating a long-term vision and learning day by day how to better our impact for those in need, we have only just begun. This is actually one of the major reasons Diane & I feel so privileged to be serving here. Being still very much in its infancy, we {and you} have much to offer and much to contribute to what PhotogenX will become in its adulthood. Paul & Susi are incredible at building community and working out of relationship. They see the end of injustice and the Kingdom of God as the ultimate goal, which leaves any ownership of the mission as secondary. We feel right at home and can’t recommend Paul & Susi to you enough as amazing believers, leaders and followers of Jesus Christ.

-Speaking Up {who we’ve been & who we are}-

There are two primary focuses in the actual ministry of PhotogenX as a mission; they are the mobilization of intercessory Prayer and Christ-like Action on behalf of the Voiceless around the world. Both of these focuses relate deeply to how PhotogenX has begun to function as a community of God-fearing artists. In 2006 Paul & Susi published what would become the first PhotogenX publication, which is the “Voice for the Voiceless: 30 Days of Prayer” booklet. This prayer book has since helped rally nearly 100,000 individuals and communities to pray for “voiceless issues” across the globe. Since its first print it has been translated into six additional languages and as we speak Susi is in Germany launching the German edition in Berlin. For those of you who have read/prayed through it I just want to emphasize that this booklet serves as much as a mission statement as it does a practical tool for awareness and prayer. Prayer is only the start, but action must follow. And it’s to this end that Diane & I have come to our placement within PhotogenX.

The 30 issues in “Voice for the Voiceless” {Child Prostitution, HIV, Human Trafficking, Infanticide, Poverty, just to name a few} are issues we desire to engage and practically work towards eradicating. Over the past year we have seen God move in incredible ways through our community. Last year we launched a campaign & publication called
“Sex & Money: A Global Search for Human Worth” which is focused on the endless connections between money and the global sex trade. Currently there are 1.2 million children being trafficked globally EVERY YEAR, a fact which we believe breaks the heart of our Lord. So in response we have been campaigning across the western world to raise this issue to any and all who would hear and act. We have also begun to engage practically by building strong connections with other ministries from Delhi to Cape Town, Amsterdam to LA who care for those being rescued from this brutal industry. Prayer lays the foundation. Action brings redemption. Onward…

-Us & PhotogenX-

As I mentioned in the last post, we have officially joined PhotogenX as full-time staff. Our roles are very much related to the long-term goals of the ministry. Over the past four years this community has made tremendous strides in the area of prayer, which is and has been a needed foundation for engagement. Yet we believe that as a mission we are at a shifting point from continuing prayer into much more intentional action. This is specifically where Diane & I will be leading. Our roles within PhotogenX leadership are to practically move us as a community and ministry into more intentional engagement. We both hold a strong passion for the practical {hands & feet of Jesus} service of the marginalized and we both feel this is such a perfect place for us to use our strengths and creativity.


Our first real push in this direction will be
a one-year journey across the globe starting this June in Central America. This journey will be one of purposeful-intentional service and connection. It will be a year of living in the margins of society and on the frontlines of injustice. Our hope is to build connections and birth new opportunities to move our ministry into action. Diane & I will be leading a team of twenty-some photographers around the world making stops in Panama, Cuba, Southern Africa, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, East & Western Europe, India, Nepal, and a good deal of Asia. We’ll be documenting photographically as well as practically serving the “least of these” wherever we go in a hope of building bridges that can turn into long-term projects. Diane & I will also be using this journey to connect with a number of organizations and ministries that are already working to end these voiceless issues at a grass-roots level, seeing how PhotogenX can partner and aid their continued efforts in the future…

So we have a long road ahead of us, but I can’t even begin to explain how excited we are. We truly feel this is exactly where God has been leading us and where our gifting and experience is best suited for the purposes of love. We
LOVE you all as we LOVE the world, by the LOVE of our Father. We will need your continued embrace as we walk into and through this transition of the “full time missionary world.” And we also want to extend our arms as Paul & Susi have done for us. Please come and be a part of this. Come and be a part of us.

We’ll be in touch soon to explain how we can best partner together for the furthering of Christ’s Kingdom through our work with PhotogenX. I also invite and welcome your correspondence. Please call, e-mail and message us. We would LOVE hear some friendly familiar voices.

Hope & Peace,

Steve & Diane Schallert
s -
d – {for info on the Sex & Money Project} {for our work in South Africa} {for info on our campaign against infanticide in Brazil}

April 23, 2009

Part 1 {Community - "Laying Down Roots"}

Over the past couple of years Diane & I have been in a beautiful place of searching, contemplating, dreaming and believing. Together we have seen such huge change and progress in both of our lives, as well as the lives of those around us, that it's really kind of overwhelming to think about. In our short marriage, we have witnessed jointly the most astounding hope along side the most desperate despair. Both of these realities have opened our eyes to just how much the world needs the living Way of Jesus Christ. Soon enough Diane and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary. It blows me away when I realize it's been nearly a year already. How amazing our journey into missions has been. How amazing is our God who loves us...

Our work with
PhotogenX as a community and an organization has been "life-altering." Thats really the only way I can describe it. The joining of physical missions {aid work, evangelism, mercy ministry, community development, etc} with mass communication & awareness {photography, publication, advocacy} has become our burning passion. We start by sharing with and mobilizing the Church to pray for the voiceless around the world, yet then immediately collaborate to physically move in a direction of justice. This is our heart, and our vision for the establishment of the Kingdom of God across the globe. These are the gifts God has given us as artists to give a voice to the voiceless. This is the place God has brought us to share the LOVE of Christ with whomever we meet. It is also the reason PhotogenX exists as a project and the reason we have come along side it...

As I said before, the last year has really been more of a
"getting our feet wet" stage. We've tested the waters and seen some change, some hope, and a glimpse of the Kingdom. That being said, we have also come to the stark realization that we can only do so much good when we decide to leave doors open. So we can no longer continue to limit our responsibility out of some fear of commitment or the romanticizing of other organizations. Diane and I have learned that the longer we continue to float from project to project, never laying down roots, the longer real lasting change will be waiting. So after a lot of prayer, council, fellowship and an unbelievable open invitation from Paul & Susi Childers {PhotogenX Founders} to come and join their work...we have officially commited to joining PhotogenX as senior staff for the long-haul. Five, ten, twenty years who knows, but we have decided to marry Paul & Susi's vision for missions. We are making vows in a similar fashion to what Diane & I did a year ago, yet this time we simply make them to a vocation of love and to an organization of hope. We are walking into the full-time missions world full of excitement, confidence, belief and a few shaky nerves to balance us out...please pray for us!

This means a lot of things. First and foremost, we are now changing pace from simply being "involved" with missions to
"BEING" full-time missionaries as a profession. It's kind of a strange paradigm shift to go through in your brain. It's no longer about this or that specific project or trip, but about devoting our whole life, marriage, time, energy, and resources to the cause of PhotogenX and the sake of the cross. It also means we will not be returning home after our eight month commitment to PhotogenX but will immediately be moving into our rolls for the long-term goals of PhotogenX (there is a chance that we could in theory stop by the mainland for a few weeks in early September to share and be with you all). We will be spending at least the next two years leading a track of photographers straight around the world, building bridges for making actual - measurable change within many of the injustice issues we deal with as a mission. But thats for another time...I will send another e-mail shortly explaining the rolls Diane & I are stepping into, our vision as a mission and a couple, and how you can get involved with us in a long term nature as missionaries...

We love you all so much! Let me just state once again that any and all of the hope that is sparked through our work is a direct result of your involvement. We would not be here if it were not for you and your continued prayers, partnership, and financial "sowing" into us as a couple and our continuing ministry. Thank you for literally holding us up and walking with us over the past year...we pray we can walk together for a long time...

April 3, 2009

Drop Food - Not Bombs


March 7, 2009

Washing Osama's Feet

Brad Cole runs a ministry called
Heavenly Sanctuary which puts on Conferences around the country on the Character of God -- and they get it right. This year they hired an artist named Lars Justinen from the Justinen Creative Group to paint the above picture to use on posters advertising their conference. Under this picture they had captions like "Follow the Leader," "God IS Great," and most accurately, "Jesus - Still Too Radical?"

Heavenly Sanctuary had contracts with several malls in the Seattle area to hang these posters advertising their conference, but no sooner had the posters gone up than angry calls began flooding the malls. Many people -- but, it seems, mostly Christians -- were offended at the image of
Jesus washing Osama Bin Laden’s feet. There was such an outcry that each of the malls decided to go back on their contract and take the posters down. The Christian College that Heavenly Sanctuary was renting space from to host the Conference also canceled their contract. Brad had to scramble to find a secular venue (which, ironically, had no problems with the poster).

What does this say about how many American Christians envision Jesus? Obviously, the protesters believe that Jesus would not wash Osama Bin Laden’s feet. But Jesus died "not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world" (I Jn 2:2) -- and this obviously includes Osama. So if Jesus died for Osama, how are we to imagine him being unwilling to wash his feet?

What the protest reveals is that many Christians have tragically allowed their
patriotism to co-opt their faith. They have allowed their American citizenship to take priority over their Kingdom citizenship -- despite the New Testament's instruction for disciples to consider themselves "foreigners" and "exiles" wherever they happen to live (Heb. 11:13; I Pet 1:17, 2:11) and to consider their real citizenship "in heaven" (Phil 3:20). Many American Christians seem to want a Jesus who will defend their country and hate their national enemies as much as they do. Many want the Jesus of the Middle Ages whom Crusaders called on to help them slaughter -- not serve -- their Islamic enemies. Many seem to want to reduce Jesus to just another version of the tribal gods that have been called on for centuries to bless tribal battles. Most wars throughout history have been fought under the banner of some god or another.

the real Jesus isn't anything like this. Knowing all power had been given to him, John says, he wrapped a towel around his waist and washed the dirty, smelly feet of people he knew would deny and betray him in a couple hours (Jn 13:3-5). Knowing he could call legions of angels to vanquish his foes, the real Jesus rather chose to let them crucify him, because this is what they needed him to do (though they of course didn't know it). Then, with his last breath, the real Jesus prays to his Father to forgive his barbaric torturers -- and all of us (Lk 23:34).

This is the kind of power the omnipotent God of the universe uses against his enemies. And this is the kind of power we're to use against our "enemies." It's the power of Calvary-like love.

We're called to
imitate the Jesus who washes the feet of enemies, dies for them, and prays for their forgiveness. We are to "live in love, as Christ loved us and gave his life for us..." (Eph. 5:1-2). When we were enemies, Jesus nevertheless ascribed unsurpassable worth to us by paying an unsurpassable price for us. We who claim we are his disciples are called to do the same. We're to sacrificially ascribe unsurpassable worth TO ALL PEOPLE, including our enemies -- even Osama Bin Laden.

In light of God's servant love toward us, we must be willing to wash Osama's feet -- and pray for his forgiveness.

Jesus says to us:

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt..." (Lk 6:27-29)

And in case we missed the point, he comes back five verses later and says:

" your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. (How important is this? Read this next sentence carefully). Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Lk 6: 27-29; 35-36).

When we act like our kind Father, we
reflect the fact that we are his children.

In Christ, God's been kind to Osama.
May we who are his children do the same. May we be encouraged by the above picture rather than offended by it. May we pray, "Father, forgive Osama. He doesn't know what he's doing."

{Thank you to Greg Boyd for basically all of this post - check out to learn more about his books, writing, and life}

P.S. In case some of the faces on the poster are unfamiliar to you, they are (left to right) German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Tony Blair, England; Kofi A. Annan, UN; Osama bin Laden; George Bush; Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; and Jiang Zemin, former president of China.